Tuesday, January 31, 2012

hi george, I came across your plans ...

while searching for ways to build my own solar panels for heating water. I believe I saw that you were using the parabolic system to heat pool water. I'm wondering, could this be used in a residential application? I was hoping to use this for heating our home's water for showers, sinks, etc. How would I determine how many panels I need? We're a family of 5, 7 during the summer. Two bathrooms plus all the other normal household water applications (dishwasher, washing machine). Our electric water heater prevents us from running two showers at the same time and we must wait at least 20 minutes between showers to suit everyone. Also, we have a farm. I'd love to be able to utilize this for an outdoor shower system if possible. I guess we'd need some sort of storage tank. Am I correct? Eventually, the use of it on pools may be desired but for now the kids don't mind the cold water! Any guidance you could provide would be greatly appreciated! The price of your plans seems very reasonable!

Thanks in advance,

Hello Tracy and thanks for your note.

I am using my collector to heat a swimming pool because that is what I needed. But the hot water produced could be used anywhere.

Depending on where you live some changes would need to be made for my system to operate well in the winter. Here near Toronto, winter can be quite severe. Changes like insulated collectors and piping. I do not yet have a reliable all season version. You will see some of my attempts to create an insulated concentrator at my blog.

You have system type questions and you are asking a guy who is focused almost exclusively on only one part, the heater. I encourage you to keep looking to get your questions answered and to find the approach that you want to take. There is a lot of information on the web. There are many do-it-yourself DIY solar heater approaches being tried, some of them quite excellently done. Good places to look around are:
and the SimplySolar and SolarHeatgroups at groups.yahoo.com (Yahoo sign-on required I think).

I wrote about what I have learned about my own parabolic trough heater approach at two websites:

If I haven't written about it, it is probably because I haven't tried it. Being an engineer, I don't like to speculate too publicly on my work in progress. I am also not a solar thermal installer who has more of a systems perspective. There are many considerations to reliable domestic hot water which I can conveniently ignore while heating a pool.

My system is admittedly more of an experimental approach to the heater itself and I wrote about it that way hoping to interest people in my book who have a similar outlook and the skills to carry it out. I am not trying to sell anything other than the book. Maybe you will be able to use my ideas for your situation, I am not sure. The book is very thorough and I did price it to hopefully be not out of reach.

I hope that I answered your questions.

George Plhak