Safe Inexpensive Solar Hot Water Heater

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Why does every home not have a solar hot water heater? Indifference to energy usage allows people to plug in a hot water heater then forget about it. Electric costs are so low high cost solar panels cannot compete with John Q. Public - energy hog. A solar hot water heating panel has been developed using inexpensive available materials. This safe solar heater works using proven techniques, has a low installed cost, and no operating cost. It is highly adaptable to automated manufacturing techniques.

This heater is not “Green.” It is black. It is a simple physical fact that quantum light energy reflects from a white surface and releases into a black body. Many problems with solar hot water heaters today make them unsafe and expensive due to misunderstanding the physics involved, bad specification of materials, installation choices, and the need for a “professional” to install.

To be a successful product in today’s market unfortunately requires 99% marketing and the rest operability or does it do what the marketing says it does. Currently most solar panels are made in China. Panel pricing has been subsidized by the Chinese government to the point of the American government placing tariffs on importing panels. The installers are not happy since their prices will have to increase. To bring production of panels back to the U.S. innovative methods must be found to build solar panels using local materials. A “hands off” approach is the way to beat China at their own game, which is low labor costs.

“Hands off” means material comes in the front door then the end product goes out the back door without anyone touching it. An example panel that was assembled by hand in less than an hour was built. This panel can be built automatically in less than a minute using automated machines. Three raw materials are required. Sheet metal, clear polycarbonate sheets, and plastic or copper tubing. Rolls of metal and plastic are fed through benders to shape the material. The tubing is bent in the desired configuration then fed between the sheets along with black coatings and sealant. The sheets are screwed together then trimmed.

Computer controls are now inexpensive and user friendly that setting up a production line such as this is very easy both in the set up and the financing. There is no reason that China should be able to compete with U.S. products due to the shipping costs. We do not need to work harder, although that does not hurt, but smarter. The key is education of how to apply automation to get the job done.


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  • Name:
    Douglas Tonjes
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  • Douglas's hobbies and activities:
    Sailing, machine design
  • Douglas is inspired by:
    Practical need.
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