Making Hot Water Solar Panels at Home Making Hot Water Solar Panels at Home

What You'll Need
3/4-inch Plywood
Circular Saw
Wood Screws
Tape Measure
Insulated Copper Pipe
Glazed Glass Panel
Small Metal Tank
Black Paint

Making your own hot water solar panels will help your save a lot of money each year in either oil, gas or electrical costs. Not only are you saving money each month from using solar energy to heat water, but you are also saving money by not having to purchase an expensive solar panel system and having it installed. Building hot water solar panels requires a lot of time, the right materials and attention to detail. However, it is well within the limits of a do-it-yourself homeowner.

Step 1: Build a Box for Panel

The box for the solar panel should be large enough to house the glazed glass panel, or panels. It should be at least 5 inches thick. Measure the panels and cut each side of the box out of plywood. On each of the side pieces you will need to cut out a groove for the glazed glass panel to be installed. A router is the perfect tool for this job. Use a straight bit and cut out a small groove along the edge of each of the sides. Glue each of the edges together with the wood glue and then then secure with wood screws.

Step 2: Drill Holes for Piping

On the edge of one side of the box you will drill in two holes. Make sure the holes are in the center of the edge and one on each side about an inch in from the corner. The holes should be slightly larger than the diameter of the pipes so that there they are easily installed.

Step 3: Install Pipes

Set two copper pipes inside the box and let the ends extend a few inches out from the holes in the box. Place caps on the ends of the sections that are inside the box. Solder the caps on so they do not leak. Measure the space between each of the copper pipes and cut several pieces to this length. Solder them perpendicularly between each of the pipes.

Step 4: Insulate Box

The box will need to be insulated to keep the heat contained within. Spray foam insulation along the edges and corners of the box. Follow this by setting a bead of caulking along all edges and corners also.

Step 5: Install Glass Pane

Set the glass pane in place and seal it with a bead of caulking and a small piece of wood. Nail the wood to the box with staples.

Step 6: Seal Box

With the glass pane on, finish the hot water solar panel by sealing the area where the copper pipes extrude from the box. Use some waterproof caulking and make sure there are no empty spaces.

Step 7: Mount Panel to Home

Using a piece of piping and a pipe clamp, mount the panel onto the house. Connect the panel to the pipe by securing it with the pipe clamp and bolts.

Step 8: Connect to Tank

Set a metal tank on the side of the home and tie it into the hot water pipes. The solar panel will have a cold water pipe traveling through it and the sun's rays heating it as it goes under the glass. Connect the pipe to the tank through a small hole in the top.

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