Solar Space & Water Heating System -- With Folding Collectors!

This is a really well done project by Kenneth that provides solar domestic water heating along with substantial space heating. 


Some of the unique features covered:

- A folding collector to reduce excess collector area during the summer.


- A combination of storage shed and collectors that provide a lot of collector area and look good.

- A homemade "Tee-puller" to construct the collector riser to manifold joint.


- Using a surplus stainless steel bulk milk tank for heat storage.


I really like what Kenneth has done with this design.  The combination of using vertical collectors, and the end collectors that fold inward should eliminate any tendency for the collectors to overheat in the summer.  With a reflective snow in front of the vertical collectors, they should do very well in the winter -- especially with the double glazing.


Thanks very much to Kenneth for providing the details on the project!

Winter Position
Eight active collectors.

Summer Position and Kenneth
Four active collectors.


Details from Kenneth:


I found Gary’s Site and always wanted to do something solar.  After reading about different designs, I decided on a cross between Gary’s solar shed and a $1000 solar water heater.  So, the system provides both domestic water heating and space heating.


1) I could use a lawn shed
2) Reasonably Easy to build
3) Store heat for nighttime use
4) No Antifreeze to leak
5) Can be used for Space Heating and Domestic Hot Water
6) If it works in Big Sky Country it will Probably work in the Land of 10,000 Lakes
7) Affordability

I use the water from the tank for space heating with under-floor radiant heating (stapled up ½ inch PEX pipe). I have found that I can run the radiant space heating pump and then use my off peak electric baseboard heaters to control the temperature in the house. My tank temperature rarely exceeds 90 degrees so I’m using all heat I produce.   I have quite a few cloudy days, but when it is very cold (-10F) the sun is out and and the tank really heats up!! .



Table of Contents for the Construction Details

Kenneth has provided a lot of detail on the construction --  the links below provide full details on each area...


The Shed ...   

Details on the shed construction and the folding collectors.

The Collector ...  

Covering making the copper tube grid, the pressing of the fins (including a unique new clamp design), and the mounting of the fins.


The Trench, Heat Storage Tank, and Heat Exchanger...

Covering the installation of the heat storage tank and heat exchanger as well as the heat transfer trench between the shed and the house.

The homemade "Tee-Puller" ...

Making a pipe flaring tool for the collector riser to manifold joints.


If you have questions or comments:


Use the Comments section below, or

Kenneth participates in the Yahoo Solar Heat discussion group, so that's a good way to ask questions -- if you post your question on the discussion group, everyone will learn from the question and answer, or


If you want to email Kenneth, you can get him at:  kennethwers AT yahoo DOT com   (replace AT with @, and DOT with a period).






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Gary March 22, 2010