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DIY Solar Water Heater (how you can save over $200 year)

If you are looking for an effective way of reducing your monthly energy bill you might be considering a DIY solar water heater. With no doubt, solar water heating is definitely one the most cost efficient and effective ways of lowering your bill.

Most homes use around $1,200 of energy per year which means that there is certainly a need to do something to lessen this financial burden. Roughly 18% of the energy you use is devoted to heating your water which means that installing a DIY solar water heater could save you more than $200!

There a number of various solar waters heaters available but the simplest of them would have to be the Batch style. For anyone who isn’t overly familiar with solar water heaters this is a very effective and simple project for the DIY enthusiast. They are also inexpensive and if you do it correctly you can build one for about $100.

Choosing the Right Place for your DIY solar Water Heater

The best place to keep your solar water heater is in your back yard since this will allow you to have easy access when you need to. If you are in the northern hemisphere you should angle it facing south since this will ensure that it gets the benefit of more sunlight. Naturally you need to place it where it will not be subject to much, if any, shade or obstructions. Another good tip for saving costs is to place it as near to your gas or electric water heater as you can because that will mean that you will use less plumbing. It will also make the project a lot simpler for you.

Constructing Your DIY Solar Water Heater

Building your solar water heater is pretty simple and straightforward. Just follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Get an old recycled hot water heater tank and strip the insulation until only the tank is left.

Step 2: Spray paint the outside of the tank black to help it better absorb heat.

Step 3: Build a wooden enclosure out of 2×4s and plywood, large enough to house the water tank while lying on its side. The top of the box should be angled, sloping down towards the front at an angle of around 45 degrees. You will also want to make sure you use pressure treated wood so that it will hold up longer.

Step 4: Seal all corners of the enclosure using silicone caulking to help retain the heat inside the enclosure.

Step 5: Line the entire inside of the enclosure with reflective foil faced insulation. This will help reflect all of the sunlight to the water tank while insulating the box to better retain heat.

Step 6: If the tank’s inlet holes are empty, install two 6 inch galvanized fittings.

Step 7: Drill holes in the side of the enclosure large enough to fit the inlet hole fitting.

Step 8: Insert the water tank into the enclosure with the inlet hole fittings exiting from the holes you just drilled. Seal the holes using silicone caulk.

Step 9: Run weather stripping along the top edge of the enclosure.

Step 10: Cut a piece of plexi-glass the size of the top of the enclosure and fit it to the top making a seal with the weather stripping.

Step 11: Use flashing to secure the plexi-glass to the enclosure.

Plumbing Your DIY Solar Water Heater

This Batch style solar water heating system functions in such a way as to pre-heat the water and then feeding it to your gas or electric water heater. You will not need to operate you main water heater unless you have to because the water entering it is already heated.

You will need a check valve to branch the water intake line at the water heater and then route it to your DIY solar water heater. It will then enter the water tank through the inlet hole where it is then warmed.  It exits through the other inlet hole as heated water. From this point the water line should be routed back to the water heater and this is where it enters either your gas or electric water heater as already heated.

The valves we mentioned at the start of this article are necessary  for installing the in-line with piping on either side of the DIY solar water heater so that the system will not only run correctly but also be protected. You will require the following valves:  an isolation valve, a check valve, and a drain valve. The latter needs to be installed at the point of entry and at an air vent, vacuum breaker, pressure relief valve, etc. so make sure you have a valve at the out-put.

Making a Batch style solar water heater really is not as difficult as you might initially have thought.  It is not only simple and cheap but it is also a great way to save your hard earned cash rather than spending it on high energy bills.  Become a DIY enthusiast and build your very own DIY solar water heater.

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