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How To Build A Homemade Water Heater

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I will show you how to build a cheap and easy water heater to use for camping, hunting cabins, or anywhere that hot water isn't readily available.  I have also include pictures of my finished product.  I travel a lot in my motor home and don't like using LP Gas so I tinkered with some materials and came up with this.  All in-home water heaters use a lot of energy but the one I built uses less than 1200 watts (10 amps).   I wouldn't recommend using this in a house unless you modify the directions as standard houses use water pressure (town water or well).  When I camp out, I take a 1500 watt power inverter and hook to my car battery to heat my water.  I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a shower tent and used cpvc to run into tent and put a valve and a shower head on and it's ready to go. 
 
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On this step, you DO NOT have to take the reservoir off of the coffee maker.  You do have to drill (2) 3/4'' holes in the back of the coffee maker to re-route the water lines and you have to take the bottom off the coffee maker to disconnect the old lines and hook up the new lines.  (See Picture in STEP 13)

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As you can see here,  I have the modified coffee maker sitting on top of the barrel.  I drilled an extra 2 holes in the space that the coffee maker is sitting just in case the hose(s) were to leak from the element and the water will go back into barrel and not onto the ground.  Mine hasn't leaked but it is always better to be safe than sorry.  Don't mind all of the cpvc pipes and valves as I just put together using what parts I had at the time.  I started with using water heater for the shower, then added another line to run to the kitchen sink. 
scouttster6 months ago
I like your idea for my camp, but I found a much easier and less expensive way. Tractor Supply sells a farm animal drinking water trough de-icer that puts out 1000 watts. It comes with a metal guard that places it above the plastic bottom of a barrel and the instructions say it is fine for use in plastic. I will just drop that into my 55 gallon barrel on a timer and use gravity ( it sits up high ) to supply the pressure to my sink. Anyone out there that can poke holes in this idea? Much appreciated
cnathan (author)  scouttster6 months ago
That's not a bad idea. How hot does the water get? I will definitely try your idea out. I only use a 22 gallon tank and if heats up the water to 90 or so degrees, I'd be happy lol my model requires a weekly cleaningof the heating element since my water has alot of minerals.
Mom and dad use one in their horse troughs. Hottest I've seen the water... About 45 degrees. And a couple times it's froze with it running. They have an auto stop. It's made to just keep the water from freezing... Temp drops to fast some times it will still freeze.
wpierce31 month ago
Add a bit of vinegar to the water. About 1/2 a cup per gallon. It will help the water not go stale and not effect the taste.
avanish11 month ago

How many watts does the the water pump draw? The coffee maker? This is a very nice idea, but I am curious. You mentioned that you are running the electricity from an inverter, which must be running off your car/truck battery. This means either: A) you have to leave your engine running to keep powering the whole thing; or, B) you have a portable solar charger to keep you batteries going? Which are you using? It seems like heating your shower water like this would burn a lot of gas or diesel, if you're running off of your car batteries. Since you have already invested in a1500 watt inverter, would it be easier to keep your batteries recharged with a couple of portable solar panels and a charge controller? On ebay, for about $30, you can buy a 12 VDC 600 watt immersible water and run it off your batteries all day long, without an inverter and you don't need to worry about the core getting blocked with calcium/lime or sediment. All you need is the solar recharger for your car battery.

Schmidty168 months ago
Yea you could do this if u didnt have a lot of cooper around. :)
Impressive! Five stars for innovation!
baudeagle1 year ago
Just a thought there are many instructables on bubbler pump. I imagine that this may find a home in this type of application
dualqual1 year ago
Again, NEAT project. However, heat will be lossed at the warmer plate (where carafe sits). A safety concern. As you well know, there is a Thermal cut out switch that is an intrical part of the element/warmer plate which, shuts off electricity to the heater element once the brew cycle is complete. It then, cycles on and off to keep the coffee in the carafe at a certain temperature.The entire project is going to have to rely on this switch. I would be concerned with using a coffee maker to heat up the water in the tank. Good job!
cnathan (author)  dualqual1 year ago
The cut out switch burned out of my first coffee maker the first time but I had it on for 24 hours a day. It burnt out within 2 months. The second and current coffee maker has been going strong for almost a year now. I leave it on for 8 hours a day on a set timer and I don't leave my motor home without shutting it off. I keep the pond pump running at all times and it pumps a gallon every 4 minutes through the coffee maker. As long as I run pump 24 hours a day (just like in an aquarium), the water temperature in the bottom is around 5 to 10 degrees lower than the top. I inspect coffee maker once a week and clean the lines of lime and calcium once a month. I like it because it only uses 900 watts of power. I still have some kinks to work out but it does the job I built it for. I'm brainstorming an idea to use a heater core for the hot water to run through and use the heat from the water heater to heat my motor home. That way I can be saving even more energy as I could have the potential to have heat and hot water and use 1000 watts of power.
dualqual1 year ago
Your idea is really neat! However, I would like to point out something that concerns me with the above photo. In household water heaters, the inlet line (cold, street pressure) is positioned several inches from the bottom of the tank. The outlet line (hot water to user) is positioned towards the top. Reason being, heat rises. In your photo, any cold water entering the tank will null out any hot water going to user. All in all, this is a really cool project!
Why do you need to heat hot water? :)
Brilliant!!!!!!!! I must do this!!
itobor25251 year ago
If it is 'HOT' water, why heat it again? ;-)
breeeez1 year ago
Why would you want to heat hot water?
Love it! Great idea!!
awesome
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