Home-made water heater

Discussion in 'Solar and Geothermal Water Heating Forum' started by molo, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. molo

    molo Member

    cold new york
    Hello everyone on the forum,

    I want to build a home-made solar hot-water system. Something simple.

    What I have:
    A Tin Roof (400sq.ft) That is sloped towards the south. It gets super hot in the summer!

    Can anyone tell me if I can somehow run hose on this and tie it into my domestic water system?

    I would love to hear some ideas for this, any input is very much appreciated.

  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    You need to get some books.

    First, garden hoses are not code accepted for connection to potable water. Second, they will burst under the heat and pressure. Third, you need pressure relief and drain valves on here to protect yourself. Fourth, you need a storage tank, because the sun is out during the day, and most of your hot water usage is in the dark.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    A coiled "hose", or anything else is a very poor heat collector. The mechanism has to be in a heat concentrator, usually a black sealed box, and the heating surface area has to be as large as possible compared to the amount of water in the pipe, which is why true solar collectors use many small tubes, and the tubes have black "fins" attached to them to increase the surface area further. Once you have accomplished that, then you need sensors to tell when the collector is hotter than the heater, otherwise the pump will send the hot water to the collector where it will radiate the heat away and cool the storage tank down. There are other control considerations also, but when you boil it down, to do the job properly you will probably spend more than if you had purchased a workable system.
  4. HandyAndy

    HandyAndy General Contractor, Farmer

    Haxtun, CO
    check out this site and magazine, in one of the last articles they had one on solar hot water,

    good magazine on renewable energy and the how to to do it.
    I think you can down load the current issue, plus they have some guides you can down load.
    there beginners guide to solar hot water,

    current article on sizing a solar hot water system,

    depending on how simple you want to go, get a clean 55 gallon steel drum, preferable one that has been plastic coated for corrosion resistance, paint the out side black, build a mount or stand to put it on, and fill with water in the morning and at night you will have hot water, and let gravity feed it, (by turning the drum up side down you can use the existing bung holes to attach to, you will to put a hole in the "bottom" of the drum that is now on top to fill it). you will need a good platform to set the drum on as water weighs nearly 8 pounds per gallon.

    need more hot water put two drums in,

    No they don't work well in the winter.

    Many of this type of solar hot water heater was used as a shower houses, in the military, and on farms, and camp grounds, before running water and electricity. and propane services.
    A shower house with one still sits on my father in laws farm. Made with 4 posts and some lumber for sides with a pallet type floor, and a deck for the drum to set on, the shower head has a valve on it, coming directly out of the drum.
    (my guess is this type of heater would not go over very well with inspectors).:rolleyes:

    do some Google searches on solar hot water there is a lot of information on some simple system,
    http://www.google.com/search?source...GGIH:en&q=drum hot solar water heater shower

    http://www.google.com/search?num=50...q= hot solar water heater shower&btnG=Search
  5. Water systems are a pain

    I did a solar complex in Colorado back
    in the 80s,, they used a solar panel with the water type system.....

    it was callled a drain down system that wasted lots
    of water and when it failed it could Freeze up

    it was a glorified nightmare ......

    very nice panels, they would actually boil the water and if the pump failed things got ugly...

    a stupid idea all in all.. their were too many ways it could fail .....

    i dont know where you live, or wether you have heating
    needs to think about in the winter....

    but if your area freezes up , forget about it.....

    if you live in tuscon and have no fear of freezing,
    you could simply buy a couple of 3/4 60 foot copper coils
    and run them on that roof befoer it goes into the
    heater and it would preheat the water pretty well,
    (nail it down so the mexicans dont steal the copper)

    or for that matter why not just place a storage tank on
    that hot roof and really preheat the water before it
    gets to the heater???/

    it all goes back to a decent paay back for all the trouble you are going through to do this.....

    Now, if you are in an area where you need to heat your home
    I would suggest looking into makeing some large solar panels that would let air pass through them to heat the home ...they are not hard to make

    that would be a much wiser thing to invest your time
    some sort of passive air exchanger heating the house
    either by gravity through the panels or with a small thermostatically controlled fan that would come on and push the hot air out of the panels into your home....

    and it would pay for itself in one season on your heating bill.

    i have been considering doing that
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2007
  6. molo

    molo Member

    cold new york
    Yeah Mark,

    I want to do it cheap and simple. A couple of tanks on the roof, some hose coiled on the roof, that's what I'm thinking.
    You all know how hot that water is that sat in the hose on a summer day. I'm thinking a coupld thousand feet of that on the roof might do the trick. I'll fill it up during the day, and manually turn a valve at night to drain it down into my water tank.

    Something simple like that...


  7. a hundred problems

    i can see a long list of problems, but i don't have the energy to write them all out. This is potable water that you have to keep hygienic, it's a closed system so you have to handle air and water exchanging together, the heat you get will be just right for diseases to grow in, it won't generate as much heat as you get in a little garden hose (because of thermal mass), etc.

  8. Bogus "green" theory thinking. The latest craze. First it was myspace, then youtube, now this nutty escapade. Buy a coiled flourescent light for $6 so you have to light 5 of them to replace the brightness of what you had before with a regular light bulb.
  9. Pewterpower

    Pewterpower New Member

    RUGGED, your avatar is producing the largest carbon footprint on the entire website, maybe even the world!!
  10. Hey, no one told me the cat would have gas if it ate a diet solely of tuna.
  11. molo

    molo Member

    cold new york
    Easy does it, This is more about saving money than being "green". Most everyone likes to save money. I realize it's a part of a potable water system and that's why I need to be careful. But there allready is a tank that keeps the water hot, does bacteria build up in the conventional tanks? There has to be a way to make this happen.

  12. serious ideas

    molo, you might get a serious discussion about how to
    1.) capture / manage energy available from the sun's heat and light that hits the roof; or
    2.) capture this same sun energy using plumbing placed near windows, inside a building.

    You hoped for ideas / input on how to "somehow run hose" on a hot tin roof.

    A roof freezes in winter, so you could not link this heat-capture thing to your domestic water system year-round. A roof pipe or hose would be disconnected eight months per year where you live (cold climate). Keeping any on-off system clean and hygienic is a challenge; bacteria are everywhere, and bacteria can grow in a roof pipe with air in it eight months of the year -- because of the sun's energy, condensation and daytime temperature swings in the pipe.

    Some bacteria kill you. Why do HW heaters always have to be so hot that they are scalding hazards? Because of diseases that get eliminated when temperature is maintained above a certain temperature, too high for comfort. So, HW heaters have to be a health hazard (only by scalding you) so that they do not become an even worse health hazard (by giving you diseases). Scalding temperature causes burns that also can be fatal.

    molo, i realize you are a real person and not just some internet padding filler artiste, so you do deserve to get some ideas. I can't imagine tying a roof hose into a domestic water system.

    I'd suggest using a roof hose to get warm water to extend the growing season for your landscaping and vegetables in March April May and in August September October. It'd keep the attic and roof a little bit cooler. It'd require a lot of maintenance, and it'd interfere with snow and rain runoff.

    Indoors you can tee off your entry water supply pipe prior to feeding your HW heater, and send that pipe into an area that gets a lot of sun, and then send it to the HW heater. This gives you a cooler wall or floor (or bench) on hot spring and summer days, and it always takes less energy to heat the Hot Water heater. That is a year-round cost savings, not a 100-day cost savings.

  13. molo

    molo Member

    cold new york
    still trying

    Yes, there is a concern about tieing into the domestic hot water system. I will only be able to benefit from this system for a few months of the year, that's why I want to keep it cheap. Do you think it would be a problem to tie directly into the shower/tub, and keep the system isolated from the rest of the homes water system?

  14. whare do you live in the USA????


    and If it were really worth all the trouble you would see
    Solar Panels all over the country....and you dont..

    you wont get a pay back on this and if you were to
    put garden hoses on your roof.it would have a bad smell
    and taste when it finally made it to your faucet..

    if you live somewhere that you could get passive heat
    to heat your home...from an air type soalr panel

    then it might be would be worth your time to actually BUILD some
    soalr panels that you would sit on the south faceing side of your home
    and would gather HEAT in both the summer and winter......

    Here is a cheap idea for you.....

    I know of some old man that actually made solar panels
    out of alluminum beer cans...
    he built a wood frame......
    then he put a reflective sheet of 4x8 insulation as a backing

    then he cut the tops and bottoms out of alluminum beer cans
    painted them black. ...and lined them up in a row from top to bottom
    then he makd a mainfild on the bottom and one on the top....

    then he covered and selaed off the box with tempered glass.

    faceing the panel on the south side of his home....

    the air came in the bottom mainfold piped in from his lower floor and flowed
    through the panel and came out
    the top "hot as hell" and was pumped into his living room....

    he did that CHEAP and is about along
    the same lines ad your garden hose theory.......

    and you would have fun drinking the beer....to get the cans.
    thats an added bonus.

    good luck have fun...
    Last edited: May 14, 2007
  15. HandyAndy

    HandyAndy General Contractor, Farmer

    Haxtun, CO
    do a search on Mother Earth news, Alternative Energy
    look in to the older ones I think would be closer to what your looking for.

    then you have to decide the suitability of safety and practicability of the various systems
    If you get the older 1970 era books many of them had the simple home built type plans in them. that would be similar to what your looking for, **** may be a good place to look for some of the older books,

    jsut doing a Google search of, solar hot water. or, solar hot water DIY or, home made solar hot water, or variations of it. you will find systems from the professional to the bazaar.
  16. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Central Florida
    During the multiple hurricanes we had here a while back, we lost power for a week or so, and my wife decided she was tired of cold showers after a couple of days. I hooked two 120' black garden hoses together, plumbed them in series with the hot-water side of the water heater, and draped them over the roof. Viola! hot showers. VERY hot showers. Water smelled a bit like garden hose, but desperate people do desperate things.
  17. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    The solar thing would work well then with a tempering valve. You could run the tank very hot, and then dial down the mix for use.

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
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