Last Thanksgiving, my sister came to Arizona to my new home for the first time visit. I was looking forward to showing off our homemade hot and treatment of Caroline to a refreshing solar shower. Now, about a day before it due to arrive, we had a sudden and early night freeze was. We woke up to discover, that the collector by a burst pipe was disabled. In practice, this meant no hot water.
Our week long Thanksgiving holiday now would be for the construction of a new and more efficient hot water system that would better withstand cold temperatures be dedicated to. Caroline worked with us throughout the week, but sad to say, that we not to end, before they went she still enjoyed the pleasure of a solar shower.
Our first step was to get a used water heaters. So Caroline and I emptied the back of the station wagon and went to Porfie of the thrift. Porfie had about 10 tanks to choose from. They were all out there and beat kind of look, but he swore that they all worked and that none of them had no leaks. We have about $20 on a smaller tank, it booted and took it home, to see whether it would work.
Preparing the Tank
Arrived at home, we moved from the outer casing and insulation and showed the metal tank. Further, all old fittings had to be removed. This task was actually pretty difficult because after years of rust infected many of the pipe thread, while suspended the elements. A further challenge met with an old tank was an accumulation of sediment in the tank down. Dried sediment and solidified in the bottom of the tank and was difficult to remove, if it successfully by roles and steering of the vessel back and forth. Then we filled the tank to rinse, and happy, it was densely free!
Once freed and cleaned was the tank thoroughly and then black paint spray-dried. We have on several layers of spray paint to give it a maximum coverage. The spray paint was necessary to protect the metal tank from moisture and increase the tank heat absorption. The corresponding fittings were then backed up and additional holes plugged. There are 2 hose fittings, a pressure relief valve and a drain plug.
Constructing and Insulating the Collector Box
After working on the tank, we built the collector box. Our measurements were calculated to accommodate the size of the glass, the size of our tank, and our desire for optimum solar exposure. Based on the sun's path we determined that the best angle for the glass to sit was 20˚. Once the frame was built, we affixed plywood paneling to the interior of the structure. Then all the interior seems were caulked and we primed and painted the wood.
Next were pieces cut recycled styrofoam and wedged into the frame structure serve as insulation. We have even an extra layer of cardboard on even further to increase the styrofoam for thermal insulation. We save styrofoam packing peanuts and bubble wrap recycled as isolation - we love materials, you do not have to buy! We have also learned that the isolation of the key to maintain is heat.
After insulating, we painted the exterior attached and it to the outside of the frame. Essentially, the collector is a field of plywood box within a larger plywood box with a layer of styrofoam as insulation in between.
Tank Supports and Glazing
Before the installation of the tank we cut 2x4s of the tank curve correspond to and that she fixed in the collector a. These institutions are designed to keep the tank and a considerable amount of weight to carry. We used a recycled glass sliding door of the collector glazing. Our glass, glazing is but prefer double glazed glass for its superior insulating properties.
Installing the Tank
After the box was built and mostly painted make we engages the finished tank.
Then water and return have been placed out of the House in the collector store. Cold water flows into the tank of water system the trailer. So is the water storage tank and heats the water. The hot water floats at the top and the coldest water remains at the bottom of the tank. A hose from the top of the tank carries the hottest water in the House. Later became an overflow hose was the TPR valve on gauge carry out of the collector.
We have the Interior with ReflectiX insulation direct maximum light in the direction of the tank, and more isolation of the box. Because ReflectiX is reflecting the Sun is set to the ground and hit the back of the container, which normally would be in the shade. We also have the lined upper edge of the box with foam tape, before you the glass in its place.
Available with all the parts and no longer, we have Caroline the collector to the test. Our first day of full sun exposure produces hot water and we were back in business. This very collector served charge us throughout the winter and is still in operation. At night we took to cover the collector with a sleeping bag, the heat loss to reduce hot even so water was rare in winter. With the majority of the tubes on the inside of the collector, we no longer had frozen or burst pipe. In the spring we stumbled upon new and other challenges. Our homemade hot water heater has almost to efficiently with longer and more intense sunlight. Water is at scalding temperatures at the height of the day, and the CPVC outlet have used hoses for water and heat and pressure burst! We have concluded that metal pipes will be necessary, as well as a scald protection system.
We are all satisfied with the performance of the collector. I think it costs a little more than the first, but it is much more efficient. I would recommend it as an excellent source of hot water, or as a complement to conventional heating systems.
That's not to say that experiments do not have hot water its challenges! Our homemade collector is under constant repair and revision.