Solar Water Heater Plans

DIY Solar Hot Water Heater Tips

Which solar water heater plans are right for your DIY solar project? These are some of the different types of DIY solar water heaters, resources and tips on making your homemade solar water heater a success.

Homeowners can find solidly written solar water heater plans on the Internet pretty easily nowadays. Many people have tackled the project rather than contracting it out and have then shared the plans they used to construct an efficient solar water heater for their home. This is a helpful tool for any homeowner interested in building his or her own solar heater to heat the water of the house.

Types of DIY Solar Water Heater Projects

These homemade solar water heater projects are listed in no particular order in regards to difficulty or ease of building. There are several do-it-yourself plans available for free online for each of these, but you'll find the most for the batch system and the thermosyphon solar heater.

Manufacturers of solar water heaters have also written some plans for different types of heaters - this is another good resource for homeowners. These plans may cost a nominal fee, but not so much that it wouldn't be worth looking into them.

You'll find that all solar heater plans fall into one of two categories: passive or active designs.

  1. Batch system - also called batch collector - primarily for climates where it never or almost never reaches freezing temperatures and water use is somewhere between 20 to 40 gallons of hot water per day

  2. Thermosyphon - for climates where temperatures do not freeze and water usage is 30 to 80 gallons of hot water per day

  3. Closed loop or Indirect circulation design also called Drainback system - ideal for climates that experience freezing temperatures often and water usage is 40 to 100 gallons of hot water per day

  4. Open loop or Direct pump design - for climates where temperatures don't freeze and water usage is 40 to 80 gallons of hot water per day

  5. Antifreeze design - for climates where freezing temperatures are frequent and expected and hot water usage is 40 to 100 gallons per day

  6. Single tank water heater - used as a backup to the primary water heater

Some homeowners have built their own solar heaters from plans other homeowners posted online and have done it for as little as $1,000 in some cases.

The cost of building your own heater versus hiring a contractor is much, much less and it's a lot more rewarding too. The cost for other homeowners has been as much as $3,500, but when you look at the long-term savings you will far outweigh your initial investment of time and finances.

What You Will Need

Each plan you see for building and installing your own solar heater will vary slightly when it comes to the details of what you will need for that particular plan.

The major components of any solar water heater however will be pretty much the same. Count on purchasing the following at the very least:

  • Solar hot water tank(s)

  • Solar panels

  • Solar heat exchanger

  • Solar hot water pump

A good plan will outline a detailed list of what you will need for that particular project.

Benefits of Solar Water Heaters

  • More economical than conventional water heaters

  • No harmful emissions

  • Affordable do-it-yourself project with a good set of solar water heater plans in hand

  • Longevity of systems is good - between 15 and 40 years

  • Return on investment is reasonable - 4 to 8 years

  • Can work in any climate and geographic location

  • Tax credits available in many areas

Tips for Choosing Solar Water Heater Plans

What is it we always recommend before launching your own DIY project? Do the research! Look around online for different plans and read up on what the homeowner had to do to build it and install it.

Make sure as you read the plans you understand them thoroughly. Don't hesitate to contact the person who wrote the plans to ask clarifying questions.

It's a good idea to talk to your local zoning officials before taking any steps toward building a solar heater. Some municipalities have building and zoning codes on the books in regards to the installation of solar heaters.

It's very likely that a building permit will be required prior to building and installing the heater as well.

Helpful Solar Heater Plan Resources

These are some helpful resources for homeowners interested in building and installing their own solar heaters using online or manufacturers' solar water heater plans:

U.S. Department of Energy has helpful tips at

Canadian homeowners can find tips and resources at and you can download a free solar water heater booklet from their site.

Why not join the other 1.5 million homeowners and business owners in the United States and around the world who already use solar water heater systems?

›› ›› Solar Water Heater Plans

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