Simplifying my simple solar water heater even further,…

…in hope of correcting last summer’s near-total failure.

The poor-man’s solar water heater is made of a free fiberglass box and a whole bunch of black garden hose. That part seems to work fine. But – mostly for artistic purposes, I suppose – I supplemented all that with PVC running across the roof and down to the spigot. And that part never worked for very long, because the water temperature kept melting the adhesive. And in fact it damn near melted the pipe. And despite further efforts it just went on like that.

Then I suffered a very painful shoulder dislocation which made any further carrying of hot water buckets around moot for a while – and then Laddie got cancer and very unpleasantly died – and I gave up on the project for the season.

But I always intended to take it up again this year, because of course.

The plan, obviously, is to eliminate as much as possible of that PVC.


Drag as much of that black hose out of the box as needed…


(provisionally) use the old material as a stub to connect the hose to the spigot.


It works, of course…


It works great. It also leaks. Of course.

So this morning I got a replacement for the one fitting I didn’t already have spares for, and built another stub out of entirely new material.


Took every precaution to get good seals. Not even going to connect it to hot water until the morning, just so there are no excuses.

Prediction: It’ll leak like a sieve within a day.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to Simplifying my simple solar water heater even further,…

  1. Ben says:

    PVC will forever be problematic with that scalding hot water. You need a metal street elbow.
    https://smile.amazon.com/s?k=1%2F2+street+elbow+brass&sprefix=1%2F2”+street&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_4_10

  2. Judy says:

    Or switch over to the stuff that is designed for hot water. I don’t remember what the number for it is but it definitely is not the schedule 40 stuff. Or, come to think of it, the plumbing connection for boilers.

  3. Joel says:

    Yeah – I should have thought of this when I was at the hardware. I’m going to try to build an iron stub; I’m pretty sure they have the parts for that.

  4. KurtP says:

    Or CPVC- which is made for hot water but has a completely different outside diameter.

  5. CPVC should work; it’s rated to temps of 200F. You do have to derate the pressure, though, at high temps. I don’t think that’s a big issue for this application. http://www.harrisonplastic.com/cpvcschedule40-80specs.html#derating

    It’s also UV resistant, but given where you are, I’d paint it. https://www.usplastic.com/knowledgebase/article.aspx?contentkey=774

  6. Anonymous says:

    Totally unrelated to this topic but you know those shed antlers make AMAZING dog chews right?

    If you have a number of them they are perfect for newbie

  7. Joel says:

    Yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it right away. Senior moment, I guess; it’s not like I didn’t know that. I cut him a section of elk antler right after somebody else suggested it, and he finds that quite satisfactory. And I don’t have to worry about him ingesting juniper splinters.

To the stake with the heretic!