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Old 10-16-2008, 09:20 PM   #16
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If that volume of water is going into a separate tank and then into your hot water heater your not gonna gain much. In other words, your not raising the temperature of the (holding tank) water by circulating solar heated water through it.
If he can actually get the batch tank warm enough to matter, it will work. Any time you can feed your main tank (or a tankless) with warmer water than you'd get from the utility or well, you're saving money.

In the winter that tank is going to freeze and bust open...

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Old 10-16-2008, 09:20 PM   #17
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Could you use soft copper instead of rigid? With a cheap conduit bender you could save some using so many fittings.

DM, does Michigan have a lot of bright sunshine? Here in Ohio we have mostly overcast days throughout the year. Something like 13 days of clear blue sky a year.

I'd consider solar if we had more bright sunny days and the cost of running a pump would be off-set by the electric/gas saved heating the water.

Did you run any numbers as to what your projected savings might be?
Soft copper would work.

Keep in mind that you don't need sun all day. Even a few hours here and there will heat up a lot of water. Estimates range from 5-11KW per sq meter. That is a lot of energy.
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Old 10-17-2008, 08:56 AM   #18
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Clutch, so far i only intend to use it for 3 seasons, disconnect for freezing weather. however, if i bury lines, keep from freezing, add the insulated cover i already designed.......who knows? anyways, my case is long and thin to fit it where i need it to get the most sun, so bending copper at that sharp of an angle i think would be a nono. but if i gotta sweat it, so be it. still cheaper than paying for elec. i will need to pay a bit more because i want the copper as large a diameter as i can get to hold more water. i'm also thinking i will need a plumbing permit b4 hooking it up, yes? i do all work by the book, don't need hassles there!

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Old 10-17-2008, 10:44 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by MdangermouseM View Post
Clutch, so far i only intend to use it for 3 seasons, disconnect for freezing weather. however, if i bury lines, keep from freezing, add the insulated cover i already designed.......who knows? anyways, my case is long and thin to fit it where i need it to get the most sun, so bending copper at that sharp of an angle i think would be a nono. but if i gotta sweat it, so be it. still cheaper than paying for elec. i will need to pay a bit more because i want the copper as large a diameter as i can get to hold more water. i'm also thinking i will need a plumbing permit b4 hooking it up, yes? i do all work by the book, don't need hassles there!

DM
Keep the copper as small as you can get it. It will heat faster since there is a larger amount of copper versus the amount of water. Run more of it.

Second, why wouldn't you want to heat water in the winter? This is when you need it the most. I use my system more in the winter than at any other time.

To make the system work like you want it to you would have to have a lot of panels. If you have the water on it will go through the system so fast that there will not be any time to heat it up.

Since the system is outside any water in the pipes will get colder than the ground temperature thereby costing you more money to heat it up. If your ground temperature is 55 (very common near the 45 latitude) and the outside temperature is 45 you will lose 10 degrees and your delta T will increase.

The goal of solar heating is to reduce delta T.
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:56 AM   #20
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ideally, i'd like to make it permanent. this will mean running pipes underground as i build that section of the home. i need some way of draining for the winter though, an inline pump of some sort maybe? i also am making an insulated cover for cooler weather and to keep debris, raccoons, etc. off it at night. it's 7 feet long by 12". i am sectioning off three areas to drop in custom cut glass panes. i have tons of old windows, but none 10 1/2" wide by 7 ft.! lol so 3 sections it is. easier to access and/or replace broken pane. the area gets full sun from about 9 A.M. till dusk.

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Old 10-17-2008, 11:04 AM   #21
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thin pipe is a fine idea. i can run 6 or 7 runs up and down the box easy enough. now that i think about it, any cooler water in a 1/2" line will go into the tank pretty fast then change to the hot. winter demands more freezing line consideration and protection than 3 season. although if i can figure it out, i certainly won't mind opening the cover in the A.M. and closing it at night! free is free! (though an automatic open/close lid system would be great!) how about painting the copper black? hi-temp automotive flat black do the trick ya think? =o)

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Old 10-17-2008, 11:20 AM   #22
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thin pipe is a fine idea. i can run 6 or 7 runs up and down the box easy enough. now that i think about it, any cooler water in a 1/2" line will go into the tank pretty fast then change to the hot. winter demands more freezing line consideration and protection than 3 season. although if i can figure it out, i certainly won't mind opening the cover in the A.M. and closing it at night! free is free! (though an automatic open/close lid system would be great!) how about painting the copper black? hi-temp automotive flat black do the trick ya think? =o)

DM
Painting it black is good. Also consider using 3/8" or even 1/4" pipe. Much faster heating of the water.

If you don't go with the aluminum panels then put a sheet of reflective ducting material behind the pipe to reflect heat back to the pipe. Or you could put some tiled mirrors in there.

As for your design it is way more work that I would want to do. The standard systems out there are designed to work when you are not there. Mine runs in the background and hardly ever needs fixing or tinkering. I just sit inside knowing that my heat is free.

There is something therapeutic about that.
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Old 10-17-2008, 11:27 AM   #23
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do you have pics of yours? are there any links to these 'standard systems' i can look at? the shape is predetermined by available space, but everything else is wide open still! i'd still love to have it year round too! i already have 1" insulate foam and foil for reflection. can double up the foam too if needed.

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Old 10-17-2008, 11:29 AM   #24
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i've not seen/used them, but do they make a 180 copper fitting so i don't have to sweat 2 90s together?

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Old 10-17-2008, 12:01 PM   #25
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Hey MG,

Just curious how you keep your pipes from freezing in the winter (I mean at night when there's no sun heating them)? Do you circ. a trickle of water through from your tanks?
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Old 10-17-2008, 12:16 PM   #26
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Thought you might like to take a look here,
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007...a_solar_wa.php
if nothing else, for a few good ideas.
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Old 10-17-2008, 12:56 PM   #27
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do you have pics of yours? are there any links to these 'standard systems' i can look at? the shape is predetermined by available space, but everything else is wide open still! i'd still love to have it year round too! i already have 1" insulate foam and foil for reflection. can double up the foam too if needed.

DM
One inch should be fine. It just helps keep the heat from radiating out the back.

I posted some links to standard systems.

You can make it all if you want to. No need to use commercial products.

A heat exchanger can be an old 275 gallon fuel oil tank. Just shove in 2 separate sections of copper pipe. One to bring in the hot water from the panel and one to take the hot water away to your house. The water bath in the tank will be the heat storage. Insulate the tank real well to keep the heat in.

Cost is about $100, $75 for the pipe and $25 for the tank. I have several that I got for free.

One element of the system is now done.
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Old 10-17-2008, 01:02 PM   #28
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ummmm....Marvin? i think you forgot to post the links? lol

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Old 10-17-2008, 02:12 PM   #29
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ummmm....Marvin? i think you forgot to post the links? lol

DM
They were posted on page one early on in this discussion.
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Old 10-17-2008, 02:54 PM   #30
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ok, i saw those. i'm still leaning toward the simplicity of the pic in post #8. it gets hot pulled in when in use and keeps elec. as backup if cloudy and solar is not enough. either way, i believe it WILL cut my overall costs, be easy and fun to make and setup. still have the two questions.... permit needed? (most likely) and 180 degree copper fittings? are they out there? kinda like a horseshoe?
and what about burying those lines while it's open and i'm building? i can drop them straight down into the well pit, (won't freeze there either!) then underground into the new crawl space and up. but i need to be able to clean and drain them. hmmmm...

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