One of my many projects at the moment is building an outdoor solarshower for this coming summer. Any one out there got any good tried and tested designs, plans, pictures of solarwater heating setups, structures to house them in etc to put me in the right direction?
At the moment am thinking along the lines of the coiled black pipe approach and maybe an added black 100 litre tank (because i found one) as a hot water storage tank that will sit in the sun somewhere above the shower area. Water can be gravity fed from above for pressure so no pumpshould be required.
Hi Alex, we've got an outdoor solar shower and have done for 5 years - if thats tried and tested. We're in italy too, piemonte, so should work as well for you.
It has no storage, as it was a gift from a guy who ran a solar shower rig on the UK festival scene and this was his first prototype that he used at the Big Green about 2005 or so. all it is is a coil of pipe (1" black PE, ~75m long) fixed to a wooden cross, making a 1.5m circle (gaps between pipes as he built it by screwing the pipes to the cross with pipe fixers). It has some thin polyurethane foam insulation material (sold to go under laminate flooring in Brico OK on a 20m roll) shiny metalised side up underneath the coil so that any sun that misses the top reflects back and hits the bottom, and polytunnel plastic wrapped over the top, and a snake sets up home in there over the summer. It heats up in ½hour from cold, and gets to >65°C in summer - I have trouble because of the claber rainjet PE ½" pipes going soft from heat and letting go of their fixings. The shower space is in a polythene teepee with a pallet and a mixer tap from an old caravan we had. The teepee also gets planted with cucumbers etc. that like the heat and humidity. The coil also feeds up to the semi-outdoor kitchen sink and the washing machine. It does well in summer though not enough for everything when there are guests, but not much in winter, although we have had some the last few days. The hot pipe runs are insulated with strips of the same shiny insulation wound round the ½" PE pipes approx double layer with a black PE sheet wrap over the top to protect, all fixed with duck tape. the black wrapped stuff has survived in a bramble thicket for 3 years now but where not wrapped the insulation has been chewed by rodents (as has the stuff under the coil, but it seems not to matter).
this is the simplest way to do this.
I have thought about adding storage but think that a circulation pump would be needed because a coil would not automatically gravity feed, since the hot water in the coil collects in the uphill turns of the coil and doesn't go any further. to get gravity feed to work would need a strait matrix in the collector aligned up the slope with some kind of manifold top and bottom, which gets a bit expensive if you make out of normal pipe Tee's, also the spacing is too great if done this way.
I would not use pipe clamps to do this myself, I would do the following: get a wood drill (probably an auger) to drill a series of holes in the wood to fix to, then cut along the line of holes with my bandsaw about 3/4 to the top, fix the wooden parts into shape and then coil the pipe into the 3/4 holes (they'll clip in place) then re-fix the severed strip over the top to hold all firmly.
teepee plastic construction is with wooden pins to close the front like a real teepee. extra bits are sewn on with a standard sewing machine and the same thread/needle as we use for our canvas structures. The whole teepee is skewed uphill to give better space to the showerer inside.
At my last I had a spigot in the back yard. I connected a hose to it, then to 500' of PEX tubing coiled in the driveway, then to the hot water line under the house. I had to add a spigot for the house connection. I turned off the hot water valve at the water heater and flipped the breaker. I turned on the water at the outside spigot. City pressure and sunlight took care of the rest. While it was not a continuous supply of hot water, it was more than enough for a hot bath, shower, and dishes. High temps were around 130. The water heater was set at 125. I used that set up for over 4 years, saving around 25 bucks a month versus powering the electric water heater.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
Thanks Jeremy,nice to see some more people on here based in Italy.
This is exactly what i was looking for in terms of the coiled piping, spot on. Will take your advice on keeping the piping in place using the drilled holes cut in half.
The tepee structure covered with transparent plastic is like showering in a kind of green house which got me to thinking, yeah i could shower in my greenhouse with the big advantage that its always warm in there when the sun is out so showering in say November would'nt be so much of an issue with the cold.just an idea.
Checked your website also. Really beautiful place. Also read your piece on off grid living, very helpful as i am in the process of buying solar panels at the moment. There is so much info to get my head around with this stuff. My goal like i guess all of us is to get off grid for the cheapest way possible but also want something that's going to last and wont let me down.
Hi Ken, yeah i could actually run the solar hot water straight into the house as you did.would need to find our hot water line though. Seems black coiled pipes are the cheapest way to go when solar heating water and obviously the larger the coil the more hot water you are going to have.