Follow by Email

StatCounter

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Solar hot water heaters




Let's look at three levels of solar hot water heater.

First we have the Yuppie level. Hire a reputable firm to install the latest in solar hot water heaters. It's a wonder of copper, glass, pumps, computer chips, and other cutting edge technology. It most likely has sophisticated freeze protection: automatic drain back or a working fluid with heat transfer. It probably has thermal mass storage for cloudy days. You really don't need to know the details. What you need a big fat bank account as these systems start in the $10,000 - $30,000 range and goes up from there. May you live long enough to see a return on your money.

Next we drop way down to where I live, the Downwardly Mobile. We look at solar water heating because other ways of heating water are too expensive. Our designs are based on old hippie-tech from the 70s. Salvaged water tanks, recycled glass and wood. Google or look on Youtube for batch solar water heaters and you'll get an idea what they look like. It could be as simple as a big coil of black plastic pipe left out in the sun. No two will be exactly alike. This is all do it yourself work. If we spend over $100 we feel wasteful.

Now let's go all the way down to Hobo level. This is where you end up when all your other plans have fallen into the crapper. Your budget is about $3. You find a one gallon jug with a screw on cap. You punch a bunch of holes in the cap. Then you paint the jug black. If you don't have paint maybe you wrap it in black tape. The jug sits in the sun full or water until hot. Sprinkle it over your head as needed.

Do not disparage the hobo water heater. Your finances might be a hobo level, but you don't have to smell like an urban camper. When it get right down to it, hot water is all about cleaning.

My hope is that by doing the “downwardly mobile” tech, I don't slip too far down and have to employ hobo tech.

-Sixbears

13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The water hose only works well some days and during daylight hours, timing would be a big thing. I remember an uncovered tank in the home where I grew up and a little enclosed coil on the side with a little gas burner that burned all the time. I suppose it was basically a time bomb, but it never exploded. Doing the same thing with wood should be fairly easy, and the heck with solar. Of course it wouldn't be practical for a small boat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, on the boat I use a camper solar shower.

      When I get back in the spring, my hot water heater will be a solar/wood hybrid system. I'll most likely post photos of that project.

      Delete
  3. Let's hear it for the Hobo Hot Water Heater...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does the job for the best price.

      Delete
  4. I bet lots of people don't eve think about hot/warm water when the SHTF. Some my be away from any heat source for a while. Good idea to spray paint some milk jugs now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being clean is part of staying healthy.

      Delete
  5. And add the coiled black garden hose as well if its just a sponge bath - saves the water too. :^)

    I wonder how much water can be gained from a 75 foot 3/4" hose ? Maybe a gallon ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's just high school math. Calculate the volume of a cylinder 75' tall with a 3/4 diameter. :)

      Delete
  6. What you need to do for your home is to invent flippable shingles that are white on one side and black on the other and automaticly flip when the temperature changes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Up here in the north all we really need are the dark ones. :)

      Delete
  7. They need to put "like" buttons on blog articles and comments so bashful fellows like me can voice an opinion without wasting so many words. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for this. I was thinking of replacing the standard water heater that I have because it is eating up electricity like no tomorrow and leaving a huge spike in the electric bill. This way, I can help the environment too.

    ReplyDelete