Simple, efficient, low-cost, solar energy equipment

I am looking for a DIY simple, low-cost solar water heater and solar light that will work in any kind of weather and still be able to supply atleast some working heat and light. Please suggest.

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110100101108 years ago
lets take that apart heater - the standard solar heater i know (installed on allmost every home in israel) makes very hot water in a day with sun and not-cold water in a quite cloudy day its a sealed box with grid of water pipes inside. there are main pipes along the top and bottom sides and a net of thinner vertical pipes between them. everything inside is sprayed rough (not glossy) black and covered with thin transparent glass. the entire thing is about 4 M2 area and is installed facing south and lifted to 45 deg angle from earth there is a water tank that stands vertical higher than the panel (bottom of the tank at same height as top of the panel). bottom of panel is connected to bottom of tank. top of panel is connected to a side entry in the tank at about 2/3 height (closer to the top) by adding panel area you can improve the thing as much as you want. then i think its better to connect the tank entries to the links between the center panels and not at the ends for electricity use a panel of sufficient size (estimate - sun at bright day is 1+ KW / M2 and panels efficiency is between 6 - 20 % depending on quality) battery of enough size (take huge margins cause discharging a lead acid battery by significant amount shortens its life. unless you use leds for lighting li ion batteries etc are too expensive to be practical) use low power lamp (leds preferred / fluorescent) diy wind generator may be cheaper for the same power (depends on whether you build it yourself and how much wind you have)
PKM 110100101108 years ago
Well, you'll need to provide a couple more details if you are looking for a more detailed answer than "a solar water heater and a PV panel".

1) What climate do you live in? I assume given you say "work in any kind of weather" you live somewhere temperate rather than a desert where the sun shines all day.

2) How much hot water do you require? Is this for occasional use in a log cabin or full time use by a family of five?

3) How much space do you need to light with the lighting, and do you have another source of electricity?

The simple answers are a solar collector like this or this for the hot water, and you could try something like this to charge batteries you can run low power lights off, otherwise you will probably have to pay for a commercial PV installation.
rseni (author)  PKM8 years ago
Donot know how to use the quote here so putting the quotes as italics.

1) What climate do you live in? I assume given you say "work in any kind of weather" you live somewhere temperate rather than a desert where the sun shines all day.

I am from Mumbai, India. Hot and humid mostly but not too low temperatures in winter. Similar to Miami I think.

2) How much hot water do you require? Is this for occasional use in a log cabin or full time use by a family of five?

How much water? For a family of 10. For normal daily use by the family.

3) How much space do you need to light with the lighting, and do you have another source of electricity?

Atleast 2 - 3 medium-sized rooms. Using LEDs will be okay if they can give enough light. Another source = battery?

The simple answers are a solar collector like this or this for the hot water, and you could try something like this to charge batteries you can run low power lights off, otherwise you will probably have to pay for a commercial PV installation.

The 5 dollar solar water heater, would it work in cloudy and rainy weather too? Atleast can it make luke-warm water in winter and rains?

I have a couple of questions about this one that I am posting on the comments section for for the solar thermal water heater but I do not think I will get replies from the author. Please see there if you can reply those.

Thanks for the links.
PKM rseni8 years ago
To private-message a person, click on their name at the top of a comment or their name next to "Author: " in the info box at the top right of the Instructable to get to their member page. From there, click the "Private message me" button under their picture.

I suspect The Naib won't respond to your questions as he hasn't posted on the site since January, so I'll have a stab.

A drill means a drill- it would probably make your life easier but if you have a different way to make a wooden frame around the collector, it's not that important. A "box of wood screws" just means you will need a lot of screws for making the wood frame, but the exact size isn't very important.

The layering goes backing - foil - fridge pipes - frame - glass. The backing is more for strength and keeping heat in, if your car floor mat is large enough it would work fine.

Sucking to set up a siphon every time isn't necessary- you could set the collector up as a thermosiphon, or use the diesel siphoning pump you mentioned, or even set up a small aquarium water pump to pump cold water into the top.

(Also, in future, if you have several questions it's best to ask them all in one comment, it's quicker to reply to one comment with all the answers)
rseni (author)  PKM8 years ago
The layering goes backing - foil - fridge pipes - frame - glass. The backing is more for strength and keeping heat in, if your car floor mat is large enough it would work fine.

Okay but where does the wooden plank(s) (shown in the pictures on which the fridge backing is kept) go in this line?
rseni (author)  PKM8 years ago
Thanks for the helpful reply. What do I do about the freon? I already have a non-working refrigerator from which I can remove the back and use but I am concerned about the freon thing. How do I know if it contains freon or if there's nothing? And how to remove it if I wish to, myself since I hear that getting it removed will be pricey? Another thing is that I bought an aquarium water pump (small one, made in china) that pumps about 1.5 litres air / minute. But it is not enough and does nothing or is not capable to suck water at all. What kind of pump do I need or what capacity?
That instructable is very similar to a project from Mother Earth News published in 1978 the link is below, ou might be able to get some details from it. I'd be concerned that the coils, being only 3mm in diameter, are going to offer a very low flow rate.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/1978-01-01/More-Ways-to-Recycle-Old-Refrigerators-into-Low-Cost-Solar-Water-Heaters.aspx
rseni (author)  Tool Using Animal8 years ago
Thank you, I'm checking it out.
em, I meant 6 mm diameter
rseni (author)  PKM8 years ago
Firstly, is there a way I can contact the author of an instructables, directly? Secondly some questions I have already posted as comments on the Sucking on the hose for the water everytime it is needed to be heated is difficult. Is there no way to get this done with some device that is cheap? Say some kind of hand pump or something? I'm thinking of using a hand pump that is used to get kerosene or oil out of drums etc. I have used it before - it has something that you press and release which pumps air in to the pipe and then sucks the liquid out. Any other ideas? I can't understant how it's all layered. Is it that first is the backing material. Over that is the back of refrigerator. Over that is the aluminium foil and over that is the glass pane and then the wooden frame? Can you explain the exact layering - what abouve what? It's unclear to me. How or where can you get the freon or other coolant removed from the backof the fridge? Is it costly to get this removed? How do I know if it has not been removed or even removed? Can I remove it myself somehow? What happens if I do not remove it?
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