$2K Solar Space + Water Heating -- One Simple DIY System

These pages describe a very simple solar system that provides both solar space heating and solar water heating in one simple design that you can build.

Using all new, high quality materials, this system can be built for as little as $2000 -- about one 1/8th the price of an equivalent commercial system.

$2k solar space and water heater

Nearly all of the materials will be available at your local hardware or lumber yard.  The system can be built with simple tools, and with ordinary DIY skills.

There are more than a 100 pages that cover the design, construction, and economics of this system and also provide many other alternatives along the way.  So, think of it as book, and use the Table of Contents below to navigate around.   


Got questions or comments or thoughts on the system...?

Table of Contents

solar water plus space heating

NEW -- The February/March 2012 issue of Mother Earth News has an article on this project.  The article gives a good detailed overview of the project in about five pages.  Its available on the Mother Earth website here... 

If after reading the article, you want more detail, come back here for the 100 page version

Designing the System


Overall Design and Sizing

Overview of the Design
Objectives of the Design
Design Description
Sizing the System for Water and Space Heating 
More Precise Sizing Method for Space Heating
Minimum Size for Combined Space and Water Heating
Balance Between Space and Water Heating
A Word on Cost and Payback
Make or Buy and Rebates
Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

System Diagrams

Collector Design

Collector Design
Collector Size and Orientation
Make or Buy and Rebates


Pump and Plumbing Design

Rules for Plumbing a Drain Back System
Sizing the Pump
Installing the Pump
Alternatives to Drain Back
PV Driven Pumps


Heat Storage Tank Design

Pros and Cons


Radiant Floor Heat distribution Design

Guidelines for Solar Heat Distribution
Sizing Guide
Alternatives to Radiant Floor Heat Distribution


Building the System


Building the Collector

Building the Absorber Plate
Building the Collector Frame
Installing the Absorber Plate
Installing the Glazing

Building the Tank

Laying Out the Tank
Locating the Tank
Building the Tank
Installing the EPDM Lining
Building the Lid

Heat Exchanger for Domestic Water Heating

Installing the Heat Exchanger

Staple Up Radiant Floor Heating

Installing the Staple Up Floor Loops
Insulating the radiant floor


Backup Heating System

Installing the backup heater


solar backup heat


Plumbing the Collector Loop
Plumbing the Domestic water pre-heat
Plumbing the Radiant Floor Loop



Installing the Collector loop controls
Installing the Radiant Floor Loop Controsl


Performance and Cost




Cost, Rebates, Economics

Cost of the System



Gary February 12, 2011, July 5, 2011