How to make a solar water heater for less than $5

solar heater

One of the solutions we can consider for reducing the consumption of electricity is the use appliances running on alternative energy. One such utility is a solar water heater. The conventional nichrome immersion rod or copper core water heaters consume about 250 to 500 watts of power. To substitute them quickly and the smallest possible expense, let us see how a solar water heater can be put together for less than $5. It can be done by using only household materials and easily available materials. The water heater is a DIY appliance that can be built at home. By using such a solar thermal water heater, power used for heating water is conserved. In short, you will get hot water without using up electricity and during all seasons. Let’s see how to build a solar water heater at home:





Difficulty level: Easy

Time required: 2 hours.

Resources required:

  1. A bucket of 50 litre capacity.
  2. Glass clay. It is available in almost all paint shops.
  3. Black paint and brush.
  4. Pipe for transporting water

Estimated cost:

  1. Bucket. It easily available at home. If not, it can be purchased for a small price.
  2. Glass clay – 86 cents.
  3. Glass pane – Can be bought from a mirror shop for $3.
  4. Paint brush – $2 approx
  5. Black paint – $2 approx
  6. Pipe – As per the length needed.

Instructions for making the solar thermal water heater:

  1. Take a bucket and rinse it with water. Make sure no dirt or soap remains inside it. Unwanted particles may create problems in heat absorption, thus reducing its efficiency. They may dirty the water too.cut bucket
  2. Cut the bucket through an angle from the top, as shown in the figure.
  3. The mirror which you buy from outside should be of the same profile as that of the mouth of the bucket.
  4. Cut a small hole on one side though which you can insert the pipe. Cut another hole at the extreme bottom for taking out water.
  5. Paint the inside of the bucket with black colored paint. This is done because the color black is a good absorber and retainer of heat.
  6. Place the mirror on the bucket and apply glass clay all the way around it. Keep it in the sun till it dries and hardens up. Draw a pipe that it reaches the bathroom from the roof. The pipe should be the right length. Cover it with glass clay.
  7. Connect the pipe to one of the taps.
  8. The solar water heater on a budget is ready.

Instructions for using the solar thermal water heater:





  1. Insert a pipe through the hole on the side and fill the bucket with water.
  2. Cover the hole with a piece of cloth.
  3. Check the path of travel of the sun from your place of residence. That is, check the path of the sun travels in from 7 am to 1 pm in the afternoon. It is during this time period, that the most amount of usable heat will be available for the solar thermal water heater.
  4. Keep the glass covered side towards the sun.
  5. Leave it undisturbed for 3 hours.
  6. Open the tap and hot water will be at your disposal.

Frequently asked questions:

Why did we put a pipe all the way from the roof to the bathroom?

This is done to ensure that you do not have to do the strenuous task of carrying the bucket to the roof and back to the bathroom. When efforts are being done to make anything, why not make it more convenient as well?

Why did we paint the bucket black?

According to theories in thermodynamics, a black-body is a good absorber of heat. So the water will heat up without needing any electricity. In fact, it is the same amount of heat that we derive from nichrome coil of an electric heater.

Why did we cover it with a glass plate?

It is done for two purposes. Firstly, glass permits reflection and transmission of light, but not of heat. So the heat gets trapped. Secondly, it prevents dust, dirt and unwanted matter from entering the water.

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