Solar hot water heaters are often used in households which are trying to be more energy efficient, and they can save homeowners a great deal of money which would normally have been spent on the energy bill. Using a solar hot water heater can provide most of the family's hot water needs during summer, and will even supply 40% in the less sunny winter months. The cost of solar hot water heaters and tanks is one of the biggest reasons why people avoid having solar heaters and the like installed: and despite government credits, there are still people who would prefer to make their own solar hot water storage tanks. Users of home-made solar hot water tanks should be aware that they will not qualify for some government tax relief.
Making Solar Hot Water Tanks
The purpose of a solar hot water tank is to act as a buffer, to allow the water from the household's water supply to be heated by solar energy provided by an outside solar collection system. Solar hot water tanks also serve to store the heated water for when it is needed, and can usually retain the heat for about 24 hours. It is important, therefore, that any hot water tank be made to meet these specifications.
The best method of making a solar hot water tank is to convert a new or nearly-new electric hot water storage tank. Electric tanks will probably make the best solar water storage tanks, as they are made to the right specifications, and also have ports and attachments which will be useful when making the solar hot water storage tank. Electric tanks in good condition can be bought for between 300 and 500 dollars, and will cost less than 10 dollars to convert.
You will also need an external heat exchanger device, tools suitable for use with metal items, and a series of pipes.
Converting the Tank
In order to convert the electric storage tank to a solar hot water tank, you will need to remove the heating elements which are supplied with the electric tank. The holes which would have connected these elements to the outside energy source can be used as ports for the solar hot water: the top hole can be used to supply the water, and the bottom port draws cold water from the bottom of the tank.
Connect copper pipping to the port using a 1mpt to 3/4 mpt reducing connection. Connect the heating supply to the heat exchanger, and then to and from the solar collector. Wrap insulation firmly around the piping, and make sure that the water supply is also correctly attached before using. Ensure that the heat exchanger is properly insulated and protected from flammable objects.
Once the heating and water supplies are connected, you should test your new solar hot water heater is functioning correctly, and also that all of the pipes, etc are fitted securely. Once these elements are settled, you should have a fully working solar hot water storage tank. Ensure that your home-made heating device is correctly maintained.