Tips for making a solar thermal panel yourself
Keywords: energy, solar, thermal, heating, self-construction, home-made, DIY, Do-It-Yourself, construction, tips, tricks, ideas, help…
With a minimum of tools and material it is possible to build yourself an efficient and durable thermal solar panel. A solar water-water system will heat your domestic hot water (sink), sink, washbasin, bath, showers, swimming pool, spa ... Depending on the means you put in it you can claim a large share of energy autonomy during the beautiful days! This file presents 5 technical methods to make a homemade thermal solar panel according to the material you have.
Other pages to visit on the solar and the construction of a thermal solar panel:
– Realization of an auto solar panel built in boiler backup
– Build a solar panel
– Solar thermal installations forum
– Forum heating, thermal and housing
Introduction: general principle
A solar water heater is less complicated than you might think. Here is the operating principle of solar panels as they are sold and installed by professionals.
If you have a pool and a small room you can improvise at a very low cost a solar water heater:
- Place a good length of PER or garden hoses directly on a roof or on a support made for the occasion.
The roof and the pipe should preferably be dark in color. Optimal solar tilt depends on your latitude and the date, see: Tilt of a solar panel.
- In France, the optimal solar inclination varies within an amplitude of 40 °. That's a lot, so you have to know if you want to use it in summer (swimming pool for example) or in winter (heating solar heated floors for example). A simple solution giving an “average” result all year round consists in taking the latitude of the place as an inclination.
- To have a measurable result on a swimming pool, the surface must be at least the equivalent of 2 m² depending on the size, shape and capacity of your swimming pool.
- The sensor inlet and return pipes must be diametrically or diagonally opposite in the pool.
The inlet pipe to the sensor must be placed at the bottom of the pool (or it is the coldest).
- A large capacity aquarium pump or a small pump could be used for water circulation.
- Adjust the flow rate of the pump, if possible, to obtain the desired temperature at the sensor outlet.
- A valve and a strainer can be installed at the suction to avoid defusing the pump at each stop priming the pump more easily. This must be installed closer to the water level.
Such a system despite its extreme simplicity can heat the water in your pool in a few days but you can also do a similar test with a simple basin or children's pool.
Solar panel with plates
Get a corrugated iron panel. Make a simple structure as suggested. Position your panel facing the sun.Run water slowly, about 10 liters / minute. In a few minutes if the sun is present, you will have hot water to supply a small children's pool for example.
Solar panel with an old water radiator
A fairly economical solution and very quick to achieve is to use simple hydraulic radiators (water) painted black.
A current new radiator generally consists of 2 parts containing water and fins. Just remove the fins and "open" this radiator as shown in the image below to obtain a very economical solar panel.
An aluminum radiator whose "open" surface is between 2 and 3 m2 is new between 150 and 200 € in any DIY store.
The heating power given corresponds roughly to the 1,5 times the maximum solar power that can give your panel. An 2000 W radiator will give about 1300 W of solar power.
Take care of the electrolytic copper-aluminum pair: you must electrically isolate the 2 metals if you use them on the same network (plastic ring or end of hose).
Solar panel in EPDM flexible panel
Sold in the pool departments at an unbeatable price per m² (from 150 to 250 € for 6 to 7m²) these panels can very well constitute a permanent extra panel for the summer. In winter, in the event of frost, it is absolutely essential to drain them, but the EPDM alone resists freezing. Here is an example of a 7 m2 solar panel sold in France in early summer 2007 for € 189.
The system can be used as is but a sight under glass could only improve performance!
On the right, an example of EPDM solar panels integrated into a roof in a Mediterranean region.
“Classic” copper solar panel with glazing: the basics of construction
There is nothing complex about a solar panel, and you can get very good performance with
basic materials. In addition, self-construction generally allows better integration of the panels.
So you can build your solar panel simply, with readily available materials. The costs are usually quite low.
Your tools will be reduced, jigsaw, handsaw, hammer, etc.
a) The case: will be made of plywood from 10 to 15 mm, exterior quality if possible. Reinforcements, simple squares of wood. The absorber panel ideally copper first choice but expensive. Then galvanized sheet or aluminum sheet. The collector pipes will be 12 plumbing copper tubes at 20 mm in diameter.
Glass wool or rock wool insulation (the top: a natural insulation, see the natural insulating folder).
b) Glass surfaces: Quality glass by checking that this glass has little or no iron. This is easily controlled by checking the edge of the glass.
If you see a lot of green color on the edge, do not use this glass and ask for a glass containing less iron.
The use of plexiglass is possible, you will opt for plexiglass at least 4mm thick. Otherwise, you can use semi-opaque panels (preferably dark color).