Survival Skills: How To Build Your Own Solar Water Heater?

Whether you are out and about camping in the wild, going to a destination on a road trip, or going on a hike, you might need hot water at one point in your trip. Desperate times call for desperate measures. While you can’t find hot water in a forest or on a mountain, you can definitely arrange it.

Although you cannot find electricity in a jungle or on a mountain, you can definitely make use of the biggest energy source that is keeping us all alive: the sun. This article is your go-to survival guide for making a solar water heater all by yourself by just following some simple steps.

What You Need

Following is a list of supplies you will need:

  • Water heater tank
  • Black paint
  • Wooden box
  • Glass sheet
  • Material for insulation
  • Pipes
  • Hinged lid
  • Material for mounting
  • Copper wire

solar water heater

How Large a Water Heater Do I Need?

The size of your water heater basically depends on your requirement and the number of people you need water for. You might need 30-40 gallons of water for two people and 80 gallons for five or more people, and this is just an estimate.

DIY Solar Powered Water Heater:

  • Start by painting the box black from the inside.
  • Put the tank inside the box and insulate it.
  • Make arrangements for pipes to go in and out of the box and tank.
  • The pipe specified for hot water disposal should be placed on the top of the tank while the cold-water pipe bringing water to the tank should be at the bottom.
  • The best option is to use copper piping since it is affordable
  • Place and secure the glass sheet on the top of the box
  • Alternatively, you can attach a copper plate to the backboard of the box
  • Mount the apparatus directly under the sun exposure, preferably at a high place.

How It Works

The basic concept of a solar water heating system is the solar energy of the sun. The sun is the biggest source of energy, and it is the sole reason for the survival of all life on this planet. It not only keeps us alive, but it is responsible for every function and process taking place on Earth.

Recent technologies have made use of solar power to make electricity. It is an efficient way of generating electric power without wasting it. Similarly, we can use solar power to our own use for various tasks as basic as heating up water.

The black paint is particularly used because black color is a good absorber of heat. It is because black absorbs all wavelengths of light and converts them into heat. This heats up objects. That’s why some people paint the walls of their houses black during the winter.

solar water heater solis

The added insulation keeps the tank water hot for longer. The glass pane used as a lid allows the direct striking of sun rays on the water and heats it.

Copper is one of the best thermal conductors with a conductivity of 401 W.m^(-1). K^ (-1). Therefore, using it as pipes or installing a copper sheet or plate in the box will accelerate the heating and assist it. Its conductivity increases with an increase in heat.

Installing the hot water pipe on the top side and the cold-water pipe on the bottom assists in distinguishing between and transferring water in and out of the tank. Since the tank gets solar heat directly on the top part, the water at the top heats up quickly. This water is easier to take out.

The cold water goes in the tank from the bottom, which rises to the top as hot water exits the tank. A pressure difference or vacuum is created, which is constantly filled by the uptake of water from the reservoir.

One thing you should keep in mind while building this apparatus is the size of your tank and the amount of water that goes into it. This is directly related to the number of people for who the water heater is being made. For example, for four people, you might need an estimate of sixty gallons of water.

The wooden box should be big enough to contain the tank and insulation. The heat from the sun heats up copper plates and pipes, which in turn warms the water. This water is used up by pipes that are attached to a tap. This is a really simple and easy way of heating water.


No matter where you are, hot water can be made easily available to you by simply following a few steps. Building a hot water heater by using solar energy is not very difficult. In fact, it is quite easy to set up and use. It is an optimal and energy-efficient way of heating water without wasting any natural or man-made resources.

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