Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mother Earth News Article on Our Solar Water and Space Heating System

The new (February 2012) issue of Mother Earth News has an article on our DIY solar system that heats water for domestic use AND also provides space heating.

The article provides a good and detailed overview of the system in about 5 pages--

- If you want a good detailed overview of how the system works to see if it might be for you, go to the Mother Earth Article -- its available on the Mother Earth website here...

- If you decide you want a much more detailed version that covers the full design as well as design alternatives, and provides detailed build instructions, then go to the 100 page write up here...

The MEN article.

The emphasis for this system was to provide both solar space heating and solar domestic water heating while still keeping the system simple and easy to build.  All the lessons learned over the past five years by me and others who have built the system are included.



  1. Gary,

    As I've said here and elsewhere, you've provided a fantastic service by meticulously documenting the design and installation of a good quality cold climate solar water heating system.

    What bothers me is that if it takes 100 pages to describe it, then there won't be much uptake.

    So if anyone has ideas on how to streamline and simplify, I'm all ears!

    One step is to use a prefab tank. American SolarTechnics, for example, has some affordable options.

  2. Hi Kevin,
    I probably went overboard on the writeup -- I covered the logic that went into the design so that people can adapt the system to their own needs, and covered the construction in enough detail (with variations) that even someone with a very limited DIY experience could build one. This makes for a pretty long writeup -- but, there are lots of pictures :)

    For those who don't know Kevin, he has designed and installed a lot of solar water heating systems, and has also done a lot of work on developing a really simple solar water heating system that work even in cold climates -- something that is badly needed to get the cost of solar water heating down to a level where it will be widely adopted. Kevin's latest in simple systems is here on his blog:
    I think Kevin would agree that this is still in the experimental phase, but keep an eye on it if you are thinking about a system.


  3. I think it is great that Mother Earth News published how to make your own solar thermal panels. Home Power has not even done that. I am seriously thinking about making a heating system for my green house that is a thermal syphon system. I live in Truckee, CA which is very cold and the pants in the green house can use all the heat they can get. And just cover the panels during the two months of "hot" temps up here.


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