Make Homemade DIY Solar Heaters
Imagine if you had means to save on your heating energy bills? Well, imagine no more because you can
actually save on your monthly energy bills.
Home-made DIY solar heaters do just that. Your savings will vary,
depending on the design you choose and weather conditions.
Tools and materials
Most of the materials are available from hardware stores. You will need a water heater (storage tank), plywood -
for making a wooden box to hold the tank, plastic sheets, foam insulation, by-pass valves, sealant, paint, brush,
drill, caulking gun and caulk, copper flashing, lag bolts.
Guidelines for installation
The first thing you ought to think about is to locate a suitable place to place your solar collectors. Ideally,
collectors should be placed on the roof facing south, for maximum exposure to sunlight. However, you can locate any
other suitable place other than the roof.
What you should do next is to mount the collectors on the roof. This basically involves locating the trusses at
the roof location where you’re going to put the panel mounting clips, after which the clips are attached. Fix the
panels on to the clips and secure them tight. This installation is easier when done by about three people, such
that as one installs the collector on the roof, the other two fix the heater.
When the collectors are firmly placed, drill two holes through the roof shingles at the locations where the
piping for the collector feed and return lines will be placed. Use sealant to affix copper flashings at the holes -
this helps hold the pipe firmly, and to prevent any roof leakages.
After the roofing work is done, next is to fix the piping that will link the water heater to the collectors.
This involves running a soft copper pipe from the heater to the exit lines on the collectors. Ensure to insulate
the copper piping through the attic to minimize heat losses.
Next is to install the feed piping on the collectors; allow for proper draining of water from the collector.
Connect the return line for the collector, which includes a number of valves, as par most designs.
Just about this point, you should fix the storage tank - also called the water heater. Its function is twofold -
it is the storage tank for the heated water and it has its own heating system, used as backup in case the solar
power is too small to heat water to optimal temperatures.
Installing the water heater entails doing the plumbing work for the cold inlets, hot water outlets, and the
collector lines - feed and return. The electrical wirings of the heater are also fixed at this stage. Ensure to set
the thermostat too. As earlier mentioned, the electrical backup heating system is there for times when solar.
The most critical part of the solar water heating system is the differential controller, linked to two sensors
-one at the collector outlet, which is the hottest part, and the other at the coldest part. The sensors basically
read temperature differences for pump activation and de-activation.
Set up the sensors and the controllers appropriately. After that is done, fix the system pump, which basically
pumps water from the tank to the collectors. Insulate the pipes and check that your system works fine.