New water heater almost done…

To fend off any questions about why I’m doing it this way, consider that my water heater for most of the past fourteen years has been this…

…so I’m not hard to please when it comes to a better source of hot water. I’ve been aware for virtually all that time that I’m throwing away a great power source. Anybody who leaves a garden hose out in the sun can’t be unaware of it. But I never roused myself to do something organized about it until this Spring when Neighbor S wanted to get rid of this. A real, built-for-the-purpose heat exchanger box. Even comes with a big thick heavy sheet of glass.

Right away the scope of the project became daunting: For one thing, where was I supposed to get enough pipe to make use of all that space? If I mounted it in the logical place, which is that spare bit of racking on my solar panel ground mount, I’d have to rebuild one whole side of the thing to take the weight. Then there’s all that re-plumbing and insulation on the cabin: So much crawling around under low floor joists. My heart sank. I couldn’t even be sure any of this would work, and one freezing incident could undo an awful lot of work and expense. Maybe this was just a bad idea.

But Big Brother sent me 2 50’* black hoses, and I got to thinking maybe this should be more of an incremental thing, starting with a pilot project.

It turns out there’s space on the powershed for the box. What about wind? Well, I can fasten it down to the roof almost as easily as I can to the panel rack but right now I’m living in hope that the weight of the water will hold it down against anything but a direct dust devil attack.

Rather than spending days digging up the yard to permanently plumb it into the system, I temporarily ran a new hose up the side of the shed and into the box. As for the outlet…

…BB included an old and rather peculiar fitting for interfacing a hose with a threaded pipe, and that gave me the idea to run PVC across the roof and down the wall over the workbench…

…to a simple faucet.

No big plumbing deal until I see whether and how well this will even work. If it gives good hot water but not enough, no problem: Add more hose. Going outdoors to fill a bucket is still less time and effort than serially boiling pans of water.

I’m stuck on one fitting to mount the faucet, and a couple of brackets of the right size to hold the pipe against the wall. I’ll get that Monday. Other than that, this thing is ready to rock. And we’ll see how well it works.

ETA: BB texted to correct me on a point of information: He sent 2 50-foot hoses, not one.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to New water heater almost done…

  1. Robert says:

    Yer livin’ the semi-self-sufficient handyman’s dream, Joel. This series of hot-water posts is better than some of those house remodeling shows. You’re making me really want my own place because you’ve awakened my inner Rube Goldberg Engineer Spirit (not to be confused with awakening Cthulhu, despite the results of my projects being similar sometimes).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why plumb it inside. Hang a solar shower outside and call it good!

  3. Ben says:

    Baby steps!

    Your whole concept for this project seems intended to make it into a learning process, (learning for both you and your “public”) starting with a setup so simple that it’s almost certain to work. That seems so much better than starting out with a complicated seat-of-the-pants design that is likely to fail in at least some detail.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Why plumb it inside?”

    Um . . . winter.


  5. Joel says:

    “Why plumb it inside?”
    Um . . . winter.

    But if you can’t keep it from freezing, you can’t use it in winter.

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