Thursday, November 6, 2008

Project, anyone? Home-made solar water heater?

A recent post in another forum mentioned that all the focus nowadays seems to be on solar photovoltaic panels--that's the "high-tech" and "sexy" issue that's getting all the attention.

But the benefits of other, less technology-oriented, solar energy collection are largely being ignored.

Anyone who has entered a car left on a parking lot all day (even a day when it's cloudy) can attest to the "collection of solar heat".

So, the next question is, "How do we USE this captured solar heat?"

That's something we could be working on.

Also, if you leave a black or dark-colored garden hose laying on the lawn all day, you can generally be sure that the water in the hose will be hot. Very hot.

So again, how do you use this heat?

These scenarios point to using an enclosed solar collector with piping/tubing within the enclosure. The piping comes from a water source, flows to the enclosed solar collector tubing, absorbs the heat collected and stored in the enclosure, then flows out to provide hot water for bathing or through a heat-exchanger (like a radiator) to provide room heat.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) contractors and construction professionals are already aware of using this type of heat collection and are using versions of it for under-floor thermal heating. The thermal mass of the floor around the embedded water-flow piping radiates the heat into the living space of the buidings. At the moment, most of this type of "space-heating" is provided by natural gas heaters heating the water going to the heat-exchanging floor-tubing. But this could also be accomplished by using parabolic solar collectors heating the water for storage in insulated tanks and then releasing the water through the floor-heat exchangers. It won't take long before these should be common.

In the meantime, there's nothing stopping folks like you and me from reading up on this alternate energy use and just doing something ourselves. This beats waiting around for the government or ready-made products to be available.

Just a thought.

1 comment:

  1. Check out the you tube video below. The guy has a whole bunch of videos showing people how to collect free energy in their own back yards. Its really amazing. He also has a website. I'm going to build the parabolic solar hot water heater he talks about below in this video for my house. It is simple, easy to make at home and the materials are very low cost.