Make Your Own Solar Hot Water Panels for Camping Make Your Own Solar Hot Water Panels for Camping

What You'll Need
Old refrigerator coils
Scrap wood for frame
Rubber door mat or pond liner
Aluminum foil
Duct tape or caulk
Screws
Screwdriver
Saw
Glass pane
Extra hose
Two buckets
Cold water

If you want hot water to use for showering when you’re camping, building your own solar hot water panels can be useful. Solar hot water panels take cold water and use solar power to heat it up.

Step 1: Get Refrigerator Coils and Build Frame

The first step in making your solar hot water panels is to obtain the coils from an old fridge. You can usually find these at a landfill or a program that removes the coolant and Freon from the coils. You’ll want a set of coils that doesn’t have the Freon or else you’ll have to remove it yourself. Make sure both ends of the coils are able to be attached to extra hose, as this is where the water will pass through in the heating process. The next step is to take scrap wood and build a frame that will fit comfortably around the coils. Cut small notches in the frame so the hoses can attach to the coils and run out to the buckets. Use a screwdriver and screws to secure the frame.

Step 2: Backing and Front for Solar Hot Water Panels

You’ll need to find a glass panel that is big enough to rest on the frame. For the backing, you’ll want to use dark rubber, such as an old mat or pond liner. Make sure the backing is big enough to cover the entire back of the frame. Attach the backing to the frame using screws. Once the backing is on, lay a layer of aluminum foil inside the frame and on the backing in order to reflect any heat back onto the coils.

Step 3: Assemble Your Solar Hot Water Panels

Once the backing is attached, you can put the coils into the frame. Connect the coils to the backing using duct tape or wood and screws. Use extra hoses or tubing to connect to the coils and run out of the frame into two buckets, one at the top and bottom of the frame. Connect them with duct tape if necessary. Attach the glass panel to the top with duct tape and seal any cracks in the project with duct tape. You can use screws to hold the glass in place.

Step 4: Add Water

Prop up your solar hot water panels and fill a bucket with cold water. This bucket will sit at the top of the panel. Run one of the hoses out the bottom of the panel and place it in an empty bucket. This bucket will be the hot water bucket. Siphon some of the cold water into the hot water bucket by sucking on the hose in the hot water bucket. This will start the process and in a few hours you’ll have hot water.

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