A Couple DIY Solar Thermal Ideas For You

I didn’t go to engineering school, but I love engineering and prototyping. I love thinking about systems, how to maximize output (or whatever your goal is) depending on the constraints whether it be space, time, or money. From concept, to design, actually building it, and then making adjustments for the following versions based on what you learned.

For the past 2 months I’ve been living on my friends farm in Maine. When our oil furnace died, so too did our hot water. We needed to quickly figure out how to create hot water. Our design parameters?

It needed to work, most of the time
It needed to be super cheaper, meaning it cost less then $500 to make and nothing to run
And we needed to be able to build it quickly as we had dishes pilling up and were sick of boiling water.

We came up with utilizing the wood stoves free heat during the winter and harvesting BTUs from the sun in the summer.

During the winter

The whole space is heated with wood, so we drilled through the back of the stove and put a heatexchanger in the stove. The thermocyphins with the 30 gallon storage tank which is teed into the cold line coming from the street. It works amazing, during the winter when the stove is running we have plenty of hot water. Note, these type of systems are 100% “illegal” and you shouldn’t install them on any clients house. However, up here in Maine, everyone has them and they work just fine. You just need to make sure you have blow-off valves in the proper places in case it gets too hot.


October 5th, 2011|Categories: Solar|Tags: , , , |

[Photo Guide] How to Install A Solar Thermal System

You’ve held a solar thermal workshop and generated some leads, prepared a solid sales presentation, sold your first job, designed the system and now you’re curious about the installation process.

While the installation process may not take a long time compared to other steps, one day for an experience crew and two or three for a normal crew, it is extremely critical for the profitability of your company in two ways. First, it’s a critical component for generating referrals, how much does the client enjoy your crew. Second for cost implications, is the system installed correctly so do you don’t have any call backs and is the homeowner does not call you back because she doesn’t understand how the system works?

This photo guide will focus on the second implication by making sure the system is installed correctly. Here is the step by step guide of how solar hot water panels are installed.


Solar Thermal Is Finally Gaining Traction

For the past 5 years solar photovoltaics (pv) has been capturing more than its fare share of media attention, government attention and, I would argue, market growth. But there seems to be signs that this trend is reversing. It’s not that solar pv growth is slowing down but that solar thermal is gaining the traction […]

August 11th, 2011|Categories: Solar|Tags: , , , |