DIY Solar Heating for Everyday Living

The first impression people get, with regards to DIY solar heating, is that it is complicated, too expensive, or both.  This is the primary reason why many people don’t pursue installation of solar heating in their homes.  

What they often don’t know is that DIY thermal projects, such as water heating, space heating, and even complete home solar power systems are not necessarily difficult to install, and can be financially quite beneficial in the long run. 

DIY Solar Water Heating

As stated above, there are several different types of DIY solar heating projects that you can start out on.  One of these is setting up solar water heating.  This is relatively simple to install and maintain.  There are solar heating kits that can fit even tight budgets.  

There are five types of solar hot water systems to choose from.  These are:

  • Batch
  • Thermosyphon
  • Open-loop direct
  • Closed loop drainback 
  • Pressurized glycol. 

Among the five, batch heaters are the most commonly used in most households with moderate weather.  This simple system dates back a couple of hundred years.  At present, most setups use Integrated Collector Storage, or ICS.  In this system, the collectors are incorporated into the storage tank.  The tank is enclosed in an insulated box, covered with glass.  Cold water is piped in at the bottom of the tank, while hot water is  then taken from the top. 

DIY Solar Pool Heating

DIY solar heating systems for pools typically use low-cost collectors.  The pool itself acts as a thermal storage and the filter pumps can circulate the water going through the solar collectors.  There are commercial kits that cost less than $100.  But if you want to save more money, you can try building one.  All you need is a sheet of thin metal, painted with a dark color. 

DIY Solar Space Heating

If you’re thinking of the ultimate DIY solar heating project, then you might try one for space heating.  Solar space heating is far more cost efficient than the regular solar electric systems, which use photovoltaic cells.  In just a year, you’ll likely be able to recoup your investment, due to the money you’ll save from propane. 

You can also convert a portion of your home so as to incorporate a passive solar space heating system.  One way of doing so is with the use of thermosyphon collectors, which are made up of corrugated polycarbonate panels that are fastened at the side of the space you want to heat.  

The clear panels let the sunlight in, capturing the sun’s energy.  Once the air inside the collector expands and rises, it creates a convection current.  There are vents at the bottom and top of the collector, which allow the air to circulate around it.  As the cool air enters the lower portion of the collector, hot air will be released from the top.  Thus, air will circulate as long as the sun is shining. 

These are just some of the DIY solar heating projects that you might embark upon.  In times of difficulty or even crisis, any amount of money we save can make a difference.  Furthermore, when we use solar energy, we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  Which means harmful emissions into the environment.

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4 Responses to “DIY Solar Heating for Everyday Living”

  1. Faith April 17, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    I would love to learn more about the solar pool heating system. My kids love the pool this time of the year, but it still is 65 degree’s, however it costs easy 50 bucks to heat each day. I just can’t do it any longer.

    • Anna April 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm #

      @Faith $50 a day to heat a swimming pool is a lot! Yes it might be worth researching solar options. Do you live in a sunny area?

      You can look at some examples of solar pool heaters here:

      http://www.findportablesolarpower.com/store/categories/62/solar-pool-heaters/

      Also I will see if I can dig up some more information on this subject to add to this blog (or one of the other blogs on this site). Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Bill July 24, 2009 at 5:34 am #

    Fascinating article. Intend to look into this.

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