Friday, March 28, 2008

Build Your Own Solar Water Heater (PART I)

The Process

The suns beams are caught>Large panels reflect the energy into a chamber>The Grid or Tank inside this chamber absorbs the heat.>Home water lines are piped into the Grid or Tank & in return are heated to an extreme 150’ F.>The chambers then keep the water Hot for the remainder of the night until the following days sun heats it up again. Hot shower day or night.

Collect all of the parts.

Our local dump has a coolant removal program that has refrigerators and dehumidifiers that they remove old freon from. It was the perfect heat collector. The back of a fridge is basically a heat dispersal system, with a slight modification is can be used to collect large amounts of heat.

Make sure that the freon, or other coolant has been removed, and cut the grill off at the base, near the large coolant holder. There was an old couch that had been run over by one of the large dump plows, the inside wood was the perfect size for the frame.

I found a pane of glass and an old rubber door mat that made the perfect backing and front.

The glass was a real find, and may be the only part of the panel that may need to be purchased. Make sure your glass is big enough to fit over your collector and have enough room to attach it to the frame.

The door mat was HUGE, so cut it in half. There was a lot of nasty black goo, and a metal sheet in the middle. Remove the metal plate (or cut it in half as well) and leave the goo.

Once the backing was cut to size, it was time to start building the frame.

As you can see I sort of built the frame around the collector, leaving enough backing to hold it all together. The frame is held on by building a similar frame on the back and driving large wood screws through the front frame, the backing and into the back frame.

Add some foil to the backing. The reason for this is that counter to what you would think, you do not want the backing to warm up. You only want the collector to absorb heat (it was so nice of the fridge company to paint it black for us). The foil will take any sun that was not absorbed by the collector on the first pass and bounce it back over the collector for another try at absorption. The glass cover will keep all the heat inside the panel for further absorption.

Light can pass through glass, but heat cannot. Notice how duct tape was used on the inside to seal all cracks, you could use caulk but I didn’t have any so I used the cheapest option. It worked well, and held the foil in place.

Next we cut some notches for the entry and return ports to the collector. Note again the use of duct tape to seal cracks. Got some air pump hose from the local fish store and attached them to the end of the entry and return ports. The duct tape was applied to make sure it was a tight fit, it was later removed as it was not needed.

Next attach the collector to the backing, using the mounting brackets that came on the fridge and some duct tape. If you wanted you could use some screws and wood, but the tape and the natural tension of the construction enough to hold it in place.

Lastly attach the glass to the top. This serves to trap all the infrared radiation from the sun inside our panel where our collector will absorb it. Again light can pass through glass, but heat cannot.

As you can see simple duct tape is enough to hold it on. Use some sort of mounting bracket however as after a couple days in the sun the tape started to droop allowing the glass to slide off. A few screws would solve this, but just put new tape on.

(To be continued)

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