Monday, May 18, 2009

Getting into Hot Water Part 2

As I explained in Part 1 of this series, my Hot Water heater exploded recently and my mortgage company is asking for my next two paychecks. As we are going into summer I don’t see the need for paying $30 a month to heat water when I am paying to cool my house at the same time.

In the end of September I will break down and buy a tankless hot water heater but in the meantime I am determined to build a solar hot water heater using only the materials I have laying around (Luckily I’m a bit of a pack rat) and the money I make off this blog.

When I am finished I hope to have something that looks like this:

Artist’s conception actual result may differ.

For the last 3 days I have been showering using the water heated with my Solar Hot Water heater Mark II.

It gives me 6 liters of warm water that I can use to clean myself off with fairly well, but it is not terribly convenient, as I have to go out and carry the bottles into the shower, use them, fill them back up and carry them out again.

To make something a little more convenient, I’m going to actually do some physical labor.

Pricing out what I need for a solar hot water heater, I’ve learned the tank (to hold the water after the sun has heated it is the most expensive part of a solar heating system. The plans I’ve seen say the easiest way to get one is to buy an electric hot water heated and don’t plug it in.

That defeats the purpose of what I am trying to do, so I have come up with a cheaper solution. The same water storage system I used in the Mark I and II. Two-liter soda bottles.

It turns out the tops to the Two-liter bottles screw perfectly into 3/4” plumbing connectors. These are fairly inexpensive and I hope to raise the $10 or so to pick up the connectors by this weekend.

Thanks to a government grant, aka: Food Stamps. I should be able to get enough two-liter bottles to hold over 4 gallons of water. By taking sailor showers I should be able to get by with that.

While I am waiting on the $10 to build the plumbing part I decided to build the container.

I had an old 10 foot 2” X 6” and a old storm window laying around and I thought they would be perfect for my experiment.

I cut the 2” X 6” into 2 55” pieces and 2 25” pieces (the dimensions of the storm window) I nailed them together to form a box and screwed the storm window on to it.

As a test I used an old door as a back, I plan on making the real back this weekend. This is just the first piece to my project but I think it looks pretty decent.

As always no kittens were harmed in making this solar heater.

I have heard that cats get very hungry watching humans work, so that could be considered harming the mother of the kittens. So I remedied that.
Quick Update 5/19/09: It was a sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s and I found a major problem with my Mark III solar heater. It gets the water too hot!

I came home at 5pm and grabbed three bottles to wash with. I unscrewed the top of the first one and noticed it produced small bubbles, I thought I just didn't clean out the soda well enough. As I started pouring it over my head to rinse my hair I found out it was scolding.

I dumped 1/3 of the bottle out and filled it with cold tap water and it was cool enough to wash my hair with.

I grabbed the second bottle to wash my body with and realized I hadn't cooled it off. I had to run the cold shower while pouring the scalding hot water over myself.

If you've ever used those old sinks that had the hot and cold at opposite sides you've got an idea of what I had to do.

Taking a shower that is both 50 degrees and 150 degrees is not pleasant.

This weekend when I tie the system into the main water I will have to keep in mind that the system can potentially boil water. (Using soda bottles to store the hot water is out of the question as they will explode.)

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