Friday, August 3, 2012

Solar Water Heating / Simple Solar H2O Heater

In researching and studying I decided it was time I tinkered with some simple solar water heating. I wanted it cheap and easy so gathered up some boxes, other materials, bought some containers of water, and a can of flat black paint for plastics. I kinda used the solar oven concept to help try and capture the sun to hold in the heat. Of course one gallon or 2 ½ gallons isn’t a lot of water but enough for some dishes or a quick wash off shower and a lot better than no hot water.

My testing was done July 28th 2012 in central Texas. I put them out full of about 80 degree tap water at 11 am with the ambient temp at 88. I checked them at 1 pm testing the water temp with a digital thermometer. The 1 gallon and the 2 ½ gallon were at 118 with air at 91. At 3 pm the 1 gallon was 137 and the 2 ½ was 122 air temp 99. At 5 pm the 1 gallon was still 137 and the 2 ½ gallon was 134 with air temp at 99. Throughout this time I rotated them to keep them in the peak sun and adjust the tilt a little.
The paint stuck a lot better to the clear stiffer 1 gallon jug than the 2 ½ gallon which is more like a plastic milk jug plastic. Having the containers black allows for the absorption of the heat.
I'll get back to Ya with the true test which would be in the winter with a lot cooler air temps. This is fairly simple with minimal cost. I also plan on  testing the 1 gallon in a collapsible reflector solar oven. If the hot water is put into a small cooler the water will stay warm for many hours.


Jim said...

That sounds like it will work. The question is, is it enough water?

The answer to your question about some music I had is,
"Desert Dreams by Arnold Mitchem"
I bought the CD in Big Bend

Off Grid R and D said...

Hi Jim,
It depends / enough water for what? :-)
It isn't an elaborate system like JWs but is easy to do. You could take an old cooler and paint the inside black and put several painted jugs in there. I sometimes shower at our Terlingua place just using the 3 gallon solar shower bladder. It beats firing up the H2O heater or heating water on the stove top for dishes or just a gallon or so.
Thanks for the music info. I am gonna buy it.

Quixote Kid said...

Curious to see what your results will be in the winter.

I'm also struggling to find a way to heat water in the winter in a way that I can leave set-up and not be susceptible to freezing.

Off Grid R and D said...

QK, Not a lot you can do in the winter for keeping the water hot at night except pack it in ice chests or keep in a well insulated solar oven box. I boiled over potatoes in my solar oven yesterday and it got me thinkin, so I am probably gonna try doing a box oven just for water heating. I’ll keep Ya posted.

Chris Miller said...

Good stuff. Definitely keep us posted. I am in the process of figuring out how we're going to heat our water in Terlingua. I am going to rough the house water lines so that I have a break in the hot line that is roughed to the outside in case I want to stick a solar water heater inline out there. I've thought about inline electric tankless heaters too but they look like they use a lot of power.

I've found that if you scuff up plastic really good with sandpaper, the spray paints stick a lot better. I recently did that with some clear rubbermaid tubs and it worked really well.

Chris Miller - One Family's Journey To Finding True Happiness

JP said...

Inline electric on demand H2O heaters do use a ton of power. Propane on demand H2O heaters is probably a little better for off grid better.
There are all type of solar H2O heaters. My experiment is for a simple way to have some supplemental hot water for free. Frann mentioned that H2O to Go in Study Butte has a 15 gallon black water container for $10. I am getting one even of I don’t use it for hot water. I have also seen where you make a cabinet or use and old cabinet bookcase with the front covered with a glass, plexiglass, or clear plastic. Use several 2 or 3 liter soda bottles to fill the cabinet. Paint the inside of the cabinet along with the back half of the bottles black. Fill em with water and put in the cabinet tilted facing the sun. Although you have to transport it to use the hot water you will have several gallons of hot water.

Courtney Deason said...

I mostly agree with you. Thinking about it logically it seems obvious that solar would be less effective during the winter months. I'm surprised anyone would assume otherwise. Now, I'm sympathetic to a lot of Green Party stances, but like most members of our political landscape they do on occasion allow ideology to get in the way of rational thought. I wonder if this might not be a case in point.

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