Mike's $1K Solar Water Heating System

This page describes Mike's $1K solar water heating system.

The main section on the $1K Solar Water Heating Systems is here...

More examples of $1K Solar Water Heating System here ...



System description and pictures from Mike:
I finally finished! Great project. Hope it saves me $$ on the electric bill.
The Total cost: $1002 (not counting the pump I blew and buying a second one that would not accommodate the lift ~18ft).

Your plans are exceptional. I hope many more complete this project.



The collector is made from 1/2 copper pipe overlaid with aluminum 4x8 sheet.


The collectors are hinged on the front edge so that they can be angled up at about 45 degrees for better winter production.


Click on pictures for full size


The tank is 145 gallons.

The heat exchanger is 300ft 3/4 Pex Tubing.  The  300 ft PEX coil is plumbed in before the regular hot water tank to preheat the water.   Sharkbite fittings are used for good and easy connections.

Click on the pictures for full size

Tank with connection PEX lines
that connect the PEX heat exchanger
coil to the regular water heater.
Note Steca controller on the wall.

Tank with lid removed to show the
PEX coil heat exchanger.
Return line from pump is also shown -- this must
terminate above the tank waterline for proper

Pump and Control

The pump is a March AC-3CP-MD 115v 600gph (had to go ac due to height of lift) 3/4 U-tube pickup.

The lift required to pump fluid up to the roof mounted panel is 18 feet -- thus the fairly large pump.

The controller is a Steca TR-0301U Controller.

Click on pictures for full size

Pump mounted with "U" tube
to keep its prime after drain back.

Closeup of March pump.

Shows plumbing the system into
the regular hot water tank to allow bypass
of the solar water heater if desired.





Mike will answer email questions at:   mrgorman007 AT gmail DOT com   (change At to @ and DOT to a period)


A couple notes on Mike's setup:


A nice, simple, clean setup -- but $2 over budget :)


One outstanding problem for these $1K systems in which the collectors are mounted on the roof is that its hard to find a good pump that will achieve the lift needed at about the right flow rate.  The pump March pump Mike used is a descent choice, but it does likely provide an excess of flow rate, and probably uses a bit more power than an ideal pump.  I don't know of any better choices -- if you have any ideas, please let me know.  Mike is thinking about adding some flow restriction in the return line to cut the flow rate down a bit.



October 30, 2009