This DIY solar water heater is made from common hardware store materials and can be assembled for about $30.
Here's a hot water heater that is the brainchild of "Steve" from the great state of Hawaii. It's made from common materials like irrigation pipe, glass, stainless-steel hose clamps, and, of course, the sun.
Since his electricity is around 30 cents per kilowatt in the state, he figures the payback period for this DIY hot water system is about two weeks. Here's the quick version of how he made it and what he found during construction.
The tubing he bought is 5/8-inch irrigation pipe purchased at Lowe's; three 100-foot sections for about $10 each. The concrete you can see underneath is his cesspool (septic) tank cover. The glass came from a sliding door that the salesman at Lowe's gave him! Apparently the salesman had bought a new one for his home.
Even though the water comes out scalding hot, Steve feels that plastic sheeting could be used instead of glass (I'm suddenly curious as to the melting point of plastic sheeting). The water enters the coil system from the water pump, and returns to the house at any hot water line. The tubing holds approximately five gallons of water. The water comes out so hot that adjusting the temperature with cold water at the shower is no problem.
The thought of using a circulating pump and a tank to store the hot water is a possibility, but so far he has only used the coil itself as the holding tank.
Keep in mind that this system was made and is being used on a property that does not have municipal water. Two months into the project the pressure build-up caused the plastic connectors between the section of irrigation pipe to blow out. This is when the brass barbed hose kit with stainless-steel hose clamps were brought in. Cost: about $1.50.
There's no question that this system is designed for a warm weather environment, but with a little tweaking it can be used just about anywhere. Taking these specs and moving them around to make a water heater that can withstand cold temperatures wouldn't be all that difficult.
This design is a good starting point for anyone with the DIY bug, for sure.
All photos via The Sietch