Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Solar Water Heater Part 1 Motivation!

If you have plenty of disposable income available then there are a few positive things you can do immediately and on a grand scale:-

You could install your own top of the range ultra-efficient solar water heater. You could also have your roof(s) completely tiled with solar panels allowing you to maybe even sell electricity back to the grid - as well as having a wind turbine installed in an appropriate place and a hyrdoturbine (waterwheel) in the stream that runs through your property. In your backyard you could build a natural swimming pool with a living machine connected to it that cleans all your grey/black water (bathing water, waste, washing up suds etc), and you can make sure that your house is passive solar heated and cooled( so it makes the most of the sunlight and is insulated so it doesn't loose heat in winter and stays cool in summer. Being this conscientious already you would try and source all the materials for this overhaul as locally as possible. Maybe you even have fruit trees growing and a healthy harvest from them each year, and can grow all the vegatables you need. If you keep animals you might even try your hand at using a methane-digester to make fuel - you don't have to have animals for this, in London in the nineteenth century all the street lights were run on methane gas from the sewers! Then there's Biodiesal manufacture and /or the prospect of buying a hydrogen car, or hybrid vehicle(runs on dual fuels). These are some of your options if you have enough disposable income.

The wonderful thing is that behind these expensive installations and complicated looking technology is some deceptively simple thinking. I mean come on, how complicated is a wind-mill, or a water-wheel, or plants that; let's face it, pretty much know how to grow by themselves.

This means that what the rich folk can do so can everyone else as well. There's a bit of a process but it's nothing that a ten year old couldn't handle. Yesterday I read this story about a chinese man who made his own solar water heater using 66 green bottles (hanging on a wall - sorry couldn't resist it). Ma Yanjun, a farmer in China's Shaanxi province, According to Weird Asia News, water flowing through the bottles is heated by the sun and then used for showers. Apparently, ten other families in his village. Qiqiao, have since built similar systems. From Weird Asia News:
"I invented this for my mother. I wanted her to shower comfortably," says Ma Yanjun, of Qiqiao village, Shaanxi province...Ma says it provides enough hot water for all three members of his family to have a shower every day. Ma’s invention features 66 beer bottles attached to a board.
The bottles are connected to each other so that water flows through them. Sunlight heats the water as is passes slowly through the bottles before flowing into the bathroom as hot water, reports China Economy Network. Ma says it provides enough hot water for all three members of his family to have a shower every day. And more than 10 families in the village have already followed suit and installed their own versions of Ma’s invention.

The simplest solar water heater is your common garden hose left out in the sunlight, and we know how hot that can get. Then there's variations on a theme, like the green bottles one above or a man 'in the southern US who had a solar hot water heater made from an old Chevy, that was up on blocks, painted black and the proud owner had run 200 feet of garden hose through the interior. It provided enough heat for his family to shower he said'. You can get lost on the internet trying to find the right Solar Water Heater design. I want one that's so simple it hurts to think that we've had to pay for hot water all this time when all we needed to do was...

... and then it has to be one that is acceptable to my mum, i.e. it can hold it's own in Ikea.

So, today I went on a hunt for bits for the solar water heater and I was pretty surprised to find myself feeling very negative. My mum came along for this venture because I figure if my mum and I can do this, anyone can (that's not to belittle my mum in anyway as she is a very capable lady). It is to challenge the opinion that it's necessary to have a plumber, an electrician and a carpenter to do all this. I think I had a bit of trepidation even so and I think that's why I was feeling negative. I was annoyed that I even had to be doing this; to spend time rummaging around for nuts and bolts, panes of glass, bits of wood and rubber insulation and all the paraphenalia that goes into making a solar water heater, especially when I could have been out in the woods instead - all because we humans relish hot showers, hot baths and hot washing up water.
Well, once I got over my little tantrum I realised that what we were doing wasn't bringing me the same amount of joy as I had when I was, for example, cleaning my teeth while standing on the shore of a large glacial river in Iceland, and then putting my socks out to dry on the rocks. There is certainly something invigorating and stimulating about such washing facilities. There was something else - we already have hot water; what did we need a solar water heater for anyway?

That put me right. At the moment 59 nuclear plants produce 78 percent of the entire country of France's electricity, and France is the largest exporter of nuclear electricity in the European Union. There's one thing I don't like about nuclear energy besides the chance of a nuclear accident (be it terrorist or human error) and that's nuclear waste. The inevitable accumulation of something so dangerous it's being sold to the Chinese so that they can put it far away on the remote Tibetan Plateau. www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au.

Just for me to enjoy my hot shower today some very vigilant human beings are going to have to sit around on that Plateau for the next 5000years or more until it's reached the end of it's lethal shelf life. One - I don't trust humankind enough to be able to sustain that level of vigilance for that amount of time and two - Tibet is one of the most beautiful and inspiring places on the planet; whose people have chosen a difficult non-violent pathway that sets an example to all of us; and look how we are saying thank you - by using their homeland as our nuclear waste tip.

In our house our electricity comes from a nuclear power station. When I washed my socks in that glacial river, yes, I was joyful because it was a beautiful place, but it was also because I didn't have the subconscious responsibility for any possible nuclear fallout just for me to have a shower and do some laundry. Here was my motivation to build my solar water heater.

-Some good news that I heard today was that all of the hospitals in Wales have switched to green electricity - they have roof solar panels, steam generated boilers and have reached their 15%carbon reduction target for the year 2010. If we bear the responsibility for our childrens' futures then we will choose to switch to ecological sustainable technologies as soon as we can; then the nuclear question will remain just that, a question, because none of us will have need for it.

If like me, you might be a little lazy and find green stuff uninspiring, that's ok. But if maybe you have already stretched your brain enough to know how to rewire a plug, or change a fuse; then your brain is stretchy enough to understand the simple technologies behind solar energy systems and other sustainable/ecological designs and make them part of your life in the same way cars, vacuum cleaners and mobile phones have done.This is the motivationary part of the Solar Water Heater D.I.Y Project. If your raring to go right now then I suggest you do this instead; as we have today. We have hooked all our gutters up to big barrels to harvest the rain water. It's very simple to do and you can use it (before purifying) to water the garden, flush your toilet and do your washing if you wish. Just a thought

Next comes a little theory, then the practical bits and bobs and then the free hot water.


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4 comments:

Debo Hobo said...

According to Weird Asia News, water flowing through the bottles is heated by the sun ....

I wonder how the bottles are connected. Do you know? I would like to try something like this for when we go camping.

Louise Brookes said...

Hi, I imagine it's just small holes drilled in the bottom of the pipes (possibly with tubes in though I don't think so)leading one to the other so that there is a slow flow (allowing time for the water to heat as it passes through). I'm actually going to try this technique out and will post the results up on this site. Let me know if you have a go before I get to it.
Lou

Louise said...

OK now you have really got me thinking about all that'grey water' going down the pipes and eventually ending up in the river. I will need to look into a way of diverting the grey water from the washing machine and bathroom and using it on my garden so it's not wasted.

Samatha Krueger said...


I was very pleased to find this web-site.I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.
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