Tinkering for Hot Water

All about our solar water heaters!
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From the Archives! A photo of original construction of this water heater.  This way way back when our bathroom was only pallets and plastic!

Our Spring Schedule!

March 12  Arid Land Restoration @ SFCC

March 19  Geology Hike and Picnic

March 25  Homeschool Homestead Day

April 3    Floodplains and Flowforms

April 9   Simple Graywater Systems @ SFCC

April 10  Archeology Hike

April 23  Earth Weekend Volunteer Day

April 24  Open House

May 7     Edgewood Self-Reliance Fair

Still accepting applications for the Internship! More info here!

Tinkering for Hot Water

We love the sun! The way we appreciate this gift of nature is by harvesting it whenever we can. One way is by heating water.

We have three solar water heaters that we cobbled together from items at salvage yards, auto part stores, as well as manufactured solar collectors. One is made from a pigmat (I'll explain below), one includes an imported Swiss panel with a selective surface (I'll explain that too), and they all can heat water to scalding temperatures. Thankfully we have cold water too.

There will always be a special place in my heart for my first solar water heater, so I'll start with that one.

My first was a batch heater, made in 2004, our first year on Ampersand's property. At a salvage yard in Los Alamos, the much beloved Black Hole, I scored a tank. Ten gallons, black, no leaks. And I was glad to find an already constructed box to retrofit as the heater's shell. Because my carpentry skills at the time were minimal.

Some call this design a breadbox heater. The design is simple, much like a solar oven. A dark tank holds the water. The tank is housed in a box, with a window, tilted towards the south. The box is insulated. Simple, right?

A ten gallon tank was perfect size for us. We're frugal with our water. And the smaller the tank, the less time for the sun to heat the water.

Salvaged materials, whenever possible is one of our key design principles. A salvaged double paned window retains heat. We also insulated the inside of the box with two inches of foam board. Then we lined the inside with reflective mylar. Sun shines through the glass... (read more of this blog post)

Hello to our new readers from the Intro to Permaculture Class as well as the Albuquerque Teachers Tour.  Great to meet you and enjoy!
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