And now the top 10 reasons why the solar hot water heater is the greatest project on earth for anyone considering DIY solar power conversion for their home.
10. Limited Scope. The project has a specific purpose, start, and finish which means it won’t overwhelm the beginner.
9. Educational. You will learn important solar concepts on this project that will serve you well in the future when you embark on more complicated projects to expand your solar energy system.
8. Inexpensive. You can usually build a solar hot water heater for around $ 100 – pretty darned good considering that a professionally installed solar water heater can cost well over $ 1000.
7. It’s easy! The parts are all simple to get and available from a number of local sources.
6. Reliability. People use solar water heaters in every part of the world, so the local climate is not an issue. The design technology has been around a lot of years and is very reliable.
5. No experience necessary. Assuming you have the average DIY’ers basic understanding of wiring and plumbing connections, you’ll be able to do this project with no trouble at all.
4. It’s Fast. Most people who try this project can complete it in a weekend. Start on Saturday morning and you can be taking a nice warm solar hot water shower on Sunday night.
3. No special tools are required. Are you a DIY enthusiast like me? Then you probably have the tools you need to complete this project. Nothing fancy here.
2.Hassle Free. The solar hot water heater requires very little ongoing maintenance and should even out-last traditional gas or electric water heaters.
And the number one reason the solar water heater is the best DIY solar project on the planet… Instant Gratification! Most people don’t realize it, but a full 1/3 of the average monthly home energy expense goes toward heating water. This is second only to HVAC (air conditioning and heating). If you usually spend $ 300 a month on power, you can expect to save about $ 100 of that; every single month going forward. Talk about an immediate impact. The project will pay for itself in a month or two.
Now for two items of caution
First, as with any solar component, you should have a backup source for long periods of cloudy weather. You will rarely need your backup because water in the tank will stay hot for quite a while. Still, its better to have it.
Finally, beware of misinformation on the internet about building solar water heaters. Don’t fall for the claims that it can be done for $ 5 because it cannot. If you are going to do this project, do it right and make sure you can produce enough hot water for your entire home whenever it is needed.
This animation shows one molecule of water completing the hydrologic cycle. Heat from the sun causes the molecule to evaporate from the ocean’s surface. Once it evaporates, it is transported high in the atmosphere and condenses to form clouds. Clouds can move great distances and eventually the water molecule will fall as rain or snow. Ultimately, the water molecule arrives back where it started…at the ocean.
credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center