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Awesome showers wanted

 
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Hi fellow people,

So my goal is an awesome shower.

I have,
rainwater collection at the top of a hill
two solar water heater panels
A 200litre hot water tank

Considerations
It's in a valley, sometimes four hours direct sun.
It heavily rains, water is an abundance
It's New Zealand, so quite nice in the summer, but tomatoes are hard to grow.
Mostly it's about an awesome shower.

Ideas
Use a combo of califont and solar, therefore hotter water to heat up less therefore higher flow?

Or just use a califobt? (Budget may not equal awesome shower flow)

Also have.. a running stream that I always wonder about trying to harness the energy of, but seems silly in terms of water heating

What's your opinion please plumbing minded permies?
 
master steward
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I don't quite understand what you are asking.  Do you want help with the plumbing aspect or do you want ideas for awesome showers?

Do you want an awesome indoor shower?


source



source


Or are you wanting an awesome outdoor shower?


source



source


Please define what you are wanting so our members can offer suggestions that might help you.
 
pollinator
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Kay Kaykayson wrote:Hi fellow people,

So my goal is an awesome shower.

I have,
rainwater collection at the top of a hill
two solar water heater panels
A 200litre hot water tank

Considerations
It's in a valley, sometimes four hours direct sun.
It heavily rains, water is an abundance
It's New Zealand, so quite nice in the summer, but tomatoes are hard to grow.
Mostly it's about an awesome shower.

Ideas
Use a combo of califont and solar, therefore hotter water to heat up less therefore higher flow?

Or just use a califobt? (Budget may not equal awesome shower flow)

Also have.. a running stream that I always wonder about trying to harness the energy of, but seems silly in terms of water heating

What's your opinion please plumbing minded permies?


What kind of hot water panels? Is frost an issue in your part of new Zealand?
 
Kay Kaykayson
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Thanks for your reply, Im looking for plumbing opinions not aesthetics. I want to achieve a decent water flow. Specifically whether preheating the water via solar will help or hinder.
 
master pollinator
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Those outside NZ may not be aware that a califont is an on demand water heater, either gas or electric powered. I could be wrong but I don't think the term is widely used elsewhere.
 
pollinator
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I have never heard of that heater by that name.
Its an instantaneous gas heater.
Back to the start

I want to achieve a decent water flow



What flow rate are you looking for? Litres per minute
 
master pollinator
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In my estimation, an "awesome shower" (or a Hollywood Shower as some naval types call it) is a combination of temperature and pressure. This, and an enclosure that holds the steam, is the definition of awesomeness. That, and the outrageous luxury of lingering in the stream of awesomeness, steaming out the pores and working out the knots in strained muscles.

Some may argue that this awesomeness has long been achieved by a simple wood-fired sauna, gentle flogging with birch branches, and a lake to jump into. I cannot speak to the efficacy of this ritual.
 
John C Daley
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An 'awesome shower' may include a nice drink and a rubdown afterwards.
I have heard oif them, but after searching for years I have never been able to get one!
 
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Hi Kay,
Welcome to Permies!
After working hard in the sun an awesome shower is the best! No reason why you can’t achieve this and solar heating will certainly reduce or eliminate your water heating requirements. It may turn out to be more complicated than you are thinking of though.
This thread about solar hot water may help: https://permies.com/t/57410/Solar-water-heater-plans-safe
I suspect that defining your requirements may also help. Can you define the flow that you need, and the total volume? Maybe by catching the ideal flow in a bucket and measuring the volume caught in a minute? Then the temperature you are aiming at. You may find a ‘proper’ system gets quite expensive unless you can get all the major components second hand, but you may be able to rig up a camping shower system (think black bag of water in the sun) which may be surprisingly effective as long as you can leave it for enough time to collect the heat.

I love Anne’s pictures, those showers are awesome!
 
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Kay Kaykayson wrote:Thanks for your reply, Im looking for plumbing opinions not aesthetics. I want to achieve a decent water flow. Specifically whether preheating the water via solar will help or hinder.



Hi Kay,
Welcome to Permies.  Looking forward to seeing more from south of the equator
Awesomeness is as you say plumbing not aesthetics.  Why not go for both?
To start at the beginning: water is not an issue for you so no problem there.  Consider the following:
Use off grid electricity
Use a solar water heater
Make sure that your solar hot water is not a pressurised system.
The higher the water source, the greater the pressure at the outlet.
Use your winter household heating to heat your winter hot water.

So Start with a header tank of about 500 L that is at least 6 - 8 M above the height of your highest water outlet.
Use a small pump run by solar to fill the tank as often as needed.  We (couple) full the tank 3 times per week. Pump switches on at 10 and is pressure controlled timer switches off at 12 MD.

Solar hot water (ours is a Solarhart with "Heart Guard" so it does not freeze in winter).  We have a 200 L tank which should be enough for 4 people.
The pressure valves have been removed and a shepherds crook 1 M higher than the header tank installed and the inlet and outlet are connected to a jacket in the fire flu. Any heat in the flu is lost to the house so it is an opportunity to capture heat that would other wise go up in smoke so to speak.  The water is heated in the flu and travels to the storage tank on the roof by thermosyphon.

All that remains is the view experienced while under the shower or sitting in the bath

We have both hot and cold water at no cost and the grey water gets used around the house to keep the area around the house green as part of our bush fire mitigation.



1002-Akkaydrah-48-Elouera-Rd.JPG
Our Hot water heater, Old Solar Panels and Shepherds Crook
Our Hot water heater, Old Solar Panels and Shepherds Crook
Hot-Water.png
[Thumbnail for Hot-Water.png]
Diagram of our Hot Water System
 
Paul Fookes
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Tried several times to fix the diagram to no avail. Where the hot water comes out of the top of the hot water jacket and goes back into the top of the Solar HW storage tank. :-) where the HW from the collector comes in and the HW goes to the house
Good luck Kay with your build.
 
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So many people wanting to help... so little information...

You defined awesome as plumbing help.
I'm assuming that's plumbing design, as opposed to details of fittings at this point.

Plumbing design issues will include flow rate and pressure, how long you want to be able to use the system without running out of water, where the water is heated (top of hill vs point of use), and where the water goes after the shower.

Things that will help us respond include:

Your rainwater collection is at the top of the hill. Do you have a tank there, or elsewhere?

What is the elevation drop from the rainwater collection  tank to the shower? (This will help determine the maximum pressure, without using pumps.)

Do you already have a shower head? Do you know the flow rate it's rated at? (You can have a low flow shower head, or a luxurious shower head. Few people think a low flow head is luxurious, though they're quite functional.

Where are your solar water heater panels located? It would be helpful to know both their elevation relative to the rainwater collection tank, and the shower. It would also be helpful to know the lateral distance, as running a water line 25 feet has different requirements than running it hundreds of feet.

Regarding your 200litre hot water tank, where is it located?

Also...

Your califont (point-of-use heater) is a great backup solution to ensure the solar water gets hot enough for the shower even when the sun is sparse. Paul may drop in and point out some of the concerns about solar water heating and legionaires. This isn't a showstopper, but an important design consideration.

I don't hear anything in your description of the system that requires harnessing the stream's energy. It seems that gravity feed is possible if you have sufficient vertical drop.
 
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“It seems that gravity feed is possible if you have sufficient vertical drop.”

Is there a formula to determine sufficient vertical drop?
 
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All these diagrams and suggestions for an "awesome shower" seem like overkill and not very permies oriented. When I want an awesome shower, especially after a good work day outside, I fill my shower bag early in the day, lay it out on a dark surface and let it heat up. Many times it will be so hot that I have to add a little cold water to temper it. I then hang up the shower bag and let the water run. This is an "awesome shower". Air drying in a cool breeze reinvigorates my soul and prepares me for a relaxing evening.
 
April Virginia
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Chuck Zinda wrote:All these diagrams and suggestions for an "awesome shower" seem like overkill and not very permies oriented.



We all have our “permies degree”. All the way from “I bathe in a creek” to fancy marble shower in a regular house on a regenerative permaculture farm. The devices we are communicating on to reach permies.com are clearly not permie oriented. Some permies don’t use any electronics. I love this community for helping people figure out how to build great things in a more sustainable permie way. Whatever that “great thing” is. I am finding this thread very helpful because I, too, want a great shower!
 
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I don't know much about plumbing, I just want to put in a plug for an outdoor shower, for summer. We've had one for years, in which a black five-gallon bucket hangs from a tripod of poles, with a sort of pulley arrangement so we can lower it to refill with cold water, then hoist it up. A hose leads out of it to a showerhead with a valve so you can turn it off while you're soaping up if you need to conserve water. This was low-tech and less than awesome but there's something pleasurable about showering in the breeze and sun, with chickens running around and birds calling. But--I live in WV where the only problem growing tomatoes is that the ample rain and ample heat bring on disease every year. Our clearing gets up to 11 hours of sun in the summer. It doesn't take that many hours to get pleasantly warm water, though--on a sunny day. If I get hot and sweaty enough (lawn mowing will do it, so I usually save that chore for last) lukewarm water feels pretty good.
 
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Jane Mulberry wrote:Those outside NZ may not be aware that a califont is an on demand water heater, either gas or electric powered. I could be wrong but I don't think the term is widely used elsewhere.



I live in Chile, water heaters with that name,  calefont,  are also used here.
Staff note (Paul Fookes) :

Luis, Welcome to Permies. Thank you for this great first post. Looking forward to seeing more.

 
Paul Fookes
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Chuck Zinda wrote:All these diagrams and suggestions for an "awesome shower" seem like overkill and not very permies oriented. When I want an awesome shower, especially after a good work day outside, I fill my shower bag early in the day, lay it out on a dark surface and let it heat up. Many times it will be so hot that I have to add a little cold water to temper it. I then hang up the shower bag and let the water run. This is an "awesome shower". Air drying in a cool breeze reinvigorates my soul and prepares me for a relaxing evening.



So what is "Permies orientated"? . Our neighbour has a granite lined bathroom that looks stunning.  His house is post and beam construction with logs he pulled out of a track he was clearing.  The clay puddled bricks were made 8 per day when he finished work and the windows were found in a reclaimed building supplies shop and he is living off grid.  The granite was found at a dump site he was clearing and the claw foot bath was in a load of rubbish he was taking to the tip. Reclaimed, recycled or trash turned to treasure.

Sepp Holzer said (and to paraphrase) that he was not so blind to technology that he would not use plant to create his landscapes.  So is being a permie living in a crude shelter on the bare  minimum or living in a palace that you build yourself or a house that needs serious love.  Being a permie is about creating a lifestyle where life is compatible with the patch of earth upon which you live and over time you can work with nature to make it better for future generations.

We started off with a canvas shower bucket which has brass fittings and is still OK 40+ years on. It is not plastic and the water was heated on the wood fire in the shed we lived in while building the house.  We now have two gravity fed showers per the diagram above and the pumps are all solar powered, never having been on the electricity grid. So yes, an awesome shower can be very permie orientated.  Kay wants an awesome shower, so with lots of ideas and suggestions she may just be able to identify and achieve her "awesome".
 
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Mary Cook wrote:I don't know much about plumbing, I just want to put in a plug for an outdoor shower, for summer. We've had one for years, in which a black five-gallon bucket hangs from a tripod of poles, with a sort of pulley arrangement so we can lower it to refill with cold water, then hoist it up. A hose leads out of it to a showerhead with a valve so you can turn it off while you're soaping up if you need to conserve water. This was low-tech and less than awesome but there's something pleasurable about showering in the breeze and sun, with chickens running around and birds calling. But--I live in WV where the only problem growing tomatoes is that the ample rain and ample heat bring on disease every year. Our clearing gets up to 11 hours of sun in the summer. It doesn't take that many hours to get pleasantly warm water, though--on a sunny day. If I get hot and sweaty enough (lawn mowing will do it, so I usually save that chore for last) lukewarm water feels pretty good.



Would love to see a pic of this--and drawings if they're not clear enough!  It sounds like something I'd love to have.
 
Mary Cook
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Peg, I don't think I have a picture, and we haven't set it up the last couple of years because some of the parts got lost, and we got used to just using the indoor shower (which also involves carrying a bucket of water warmed usually on the gas stove (in summer) or the woodstove in winter, upstairs to dump in a bucket which has a hose leading from the bottom down into a spigot in the shower below, with a valve on the showerhead that can be turned off to conserve water while soaping. But we had three poles, like five inches in diameter at the base and ten feet long. leaning into join at the top, then a system of two pulleys with the rope wound in loops between them was used to run the bucket up and down, a short hose--like a foot--dangled below the bucket with a small showerhead with a valve attached. You can also buy plastic bags, black on one side, with a hole in the upper part for attaching a hook. You fill it in the morning, raise it, and after a few hours in the sun makes a nice shower.
 
Mary Cook
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A little off topic, but I want to mention that we also have a duplex hillbilly/hippie hot tub. That is, two old cast iron bathtubs side by side with the drain pipes connected, over a firebox itself connected to a short chimney of old sandstones. You build a fire in the box after filling the tubs, and leave a thermometer floating in one. We happen to have a "rubber"factory in our town that gives away mats--actually "engineered foam" rather than real rubber. Pieces of these mats are nice for the bottom of the tub which can be too hot. Our tubs are within the woods, and it's so pleasant to soak in 105 degree water while gazing up into a big shagbark hickory, with its green leaves in summer, gold in the fall, or to watch snow drifting down in winter. To watch the sun setting to the west, to be visited by the dog and chickens. This is a deluxe model but you can use one tub and just a pit under the tub rather than the firebox--my husband has asthma and wanted to direct the smoke away. It also retains heat better.
 
Peg Campbell
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Mary Cook wrote:Peg, I don't think I have a picture, and we haven't set it up the last couple of years because some of the parts got lost, and we got used to just using the indoor shower (which also involves carrying a bucket of water warmed usually on the gas stove (in summer) or the woodstove in winter, upstairs to dump in a bucket which has a hose leading from the bottom down into a spigot in the shower below, with a valve on the showerhead that can be turned off to conserve water while soaping. But we had three poles, like five inches in diameter at the base and ten feet long. leaning into join at the top, then a system of two pulleys with the rope wound in loops between them was used to run the bucket up and down, a short hose--like a foot--dangled below the bucket with a small showerhead with a valve attached. You can also buy plastic bags, black on one side, with a hole in the upper part for attaching a hook. You fill it in the morning, raise it, and after a few hours in the sun makes a nice shower.



Yeah, had the bag almost 30 years ago living totally off grid, passive solar but lifting a heavy bag of water was a pain and not awesome!  So just lived without a shower for some years.  A year ago, got one again, with a way to fill it while it's hanging.  But still, low pressure and not really awesome-- "shrug".  When we finally get it on the ever lengthening project list, I'm hoping for something passive solar, not needing superman to fill, and enough water pressure to rinse off a loose feather from our skin???  Maybe that's too much to ask but that would be awesome for me!  LOL!
 
I guess everyone has an angle. Fine, what do you want? Just know that you cannot have this tiny ad:
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