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DIY Solar Water Heater

Solar water heaters are one way to naturally warm water for household needs.

This useful project can be installed do-it-yourself style with a bit of knowledge and some construction supplies. Designs can be basic or elaborate, depending on available budgets and materials.

Thermosyphon technology occurs when water warms up, causing it to swell and rise. Containers like glass and plastic bottles can be incorporated with piping, panels and a tank to make a home solar water heater.

The panels and water tanks have to be placed in a certain position for optimal efficiency and heat concentration.

The water in the collection container is warmer during the day and cooler at night. Water that is cooler gets pushed down and causes the water to flow. By applying a bit of physics you can keep water warmer longer by putting the lower part of the water storage tank over the panel and gravity will avert the movement.

This technology has been around since at least the 1890’s, and the first rooftop thermosyphon system recorded in the U.S. was in the 1920’s. However, the popularity of natural gas took over the market and solar means were seemingly forgotten about. A reoccurrence appeared in the 1970’s when tax breaks existed for home solar water systems. After this surge the market again took a different route, and consumers followed.

However, there are resourceful people that continually come up with new ideas and reinvent age old ones to increase sustainable living methods.

For example, using an infrastructure of pipes and beer bottles one inventive farmer in China, Ma Yanjun, designed a solar water heater for his home. Though simple in design, the outcome is genius as water flows through the bottles and is warmed by the sun. His solar structure naturally produces enough warm water for everyone in the household to have a daily shower, and all without an electric water heater.

Jose Alano, a crafty mechanic and recycler who saved his bottles from Brazil’s junkyards, also created a rooftop solar water heater constructed from plastic water bottles. This affordable and accessible solar strategy is being utilized by thousands in his area due to his patented design which he has offered for not-for-profit use. He suggests recycling and replacing the bottles every 5 years since plastic turns cloudy and this impacts their capacity to capture heat.

For a material list and a video demonstration of Alano’s creation, view Connect Green. For a grounded solar water heater instructional, check out Build It Solar’s example.

Turning to basic solutions when available can be the smartest option. Applying thermosyphon technology in a home design is an eco-friendly and clever way to warm water.

Image Source: Connect Green

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