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Posts: 269
Reply with quote  #1 
Advanced warning - I like pictures in threads and I can be long winded at times [wink]

Sometimes you can just go out buy some materials build something and install it. Sometimes you have a few other steps in place.   This is a case of a "few" more steps on my way to solar heated water.

I got permission from my better half to put the water storage tank in the laundry room.   Before I can put a large multiple thousand pound tank in that room I need to rearrange things and to keep my wife happy finish it as it's ugly 1960's raw basement at the moment.

Part of finishing the laundry room is to put a subfloor on the concrete and then nice vinyl flooring.  I can't install that in the laundry room until my office has that sub floor as well.  

I can't put that subfloor into my office until the walls were insulated as that just made no sense to do the job half-ass.

So the road to solar at my house starts in my office.  Luckily it's been below freezing here lately and that's quite rare.  My office has been damn cold.  My wife took pity and said to go ahead on warming it up.  48 hours ago I started emptying my office of all of my crap.     I may have a lot of crap as it took 6 hours to completely empty.
Here's the result

What you see is concrete floor, 1/2" mdf on the walls.  The dark line is stain from my built in desk not water damage.  The white line is a shelf that ran around the room and is on the concrete foundation.   

A different angle.
some closets and paneling. you can also see some of the old tiles that popped up super easy.    A year ago I ripped out the disgusting carpet that was in here glued to the tiles that were glued to the concrete.  This is pretty typical 1960's era construction.

6 hours later it was gutted. I took the pictures the next morning when I had light.
They had used 1/2" spacers glued to the foundation then nailed the mdf directly to that.   above the foundation it was typical 2x4 construction with some paper backed fiberglass insulation that was poorly installed to say the least.  

Air sealing was definitely not a priority. I found this in an area where the insulation looked particularly bad.
You can see day light through the small hole in the corner. It was big enough to drop a golf ball through.  How we didn't end up with mice/rats  and just with wasps I have no idea.       

Someone had replacement windows installed about a decade ago.    They're decent vinyl windows that replaced the old ones.    The install looked nice.  It was brutal though.
the white thing is the vinyl frame.  The wood in the window is just a piece of wood I ran some wiring through temporarily where the flashlight is shining you can see the old window aluminum frame.   behind that you can see the outside part of the alumimum frame.    You can also see 1 of the 4 3" deck screws that hold the new window in place.   That plus the trim was it.   There was no insulation.  I can't imagine why I was cold sitting in front of this for 9-10 hours a day...

So step one was to put a small piece of wood over the wasp entry hole.    step 2 was to spray foam the crap out of the window, the sill plate, the space between the joist hangers and I found that between the last joist and the outside wall was a 2x4 wide space with a 1/4" wide opening which noone had bothered to insulate.  2 cans of foam went into there alone.      4 cans of spray foam later I was done and couldn't feel a draft.   Next up time to insulate.
I glued 1.5" rigid directly to the cement and will the cavity behind with roxul mineralwool.  More spray foam ( I love this stuff) in the gaps and along the bottom.     Already things were feeling a little warmer and we're just getting started.

Next up I dropped in the subfloor.  It's the insulated version from dricore.   About $8 for each 2'x2' panel. You can see the insulation and moisture channels on the bottom.    I've never had moisture issues in this basement ( been here 5 years)   but I figured it was worth the precaution.    Install was trivial.   
At this point it's been 24 hours from the time I started gutting to the time I stopped.   When my heat pump turns on within a couple of minutes this room is the warmest by far in the entire house and it was previously the coldest.     I still have to you vapor barrier to tie the top of the foam into the external walls. Do the same around the window, tape all of the seams in the foam and then insulation/sealing is basically done for this room.    Next up is studding the external walls running new electrical and getting everything ready for drywall.   Unfortunately I still have to work from here so my PC is back in here and things will slow down.  I'm hoping to be ready for drywall next weekend.     I also plan on a suspended ceiling.   Every time I find a drywall ceiling in a basement I find a reason I need to punch a hole in it to get at something....

At this pace I'll be doing actual solar stuff in 3 - 4 years [rolleyes]


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Posts: 2,240
Reply with quote  #2 
Nice job, Jamie, U don't hang around !

You will already have started the payback time on that insulation, it will soon pay for itself in lower heating costs, and greater efficiency at your keyboard !

I would GLUE the drywall to the styrofoam, period, and not use the gloop-splodges method; that way U won't get any air between the two... And certainly would not use studs and screws, if U R thinking down that road - far too much trouble, looks like you have enough work cut out already !


(1)  "Heat goes from hot to cold, there is no directional bias"
(2) It's wrote, "voilà" unless talking musical instruments...

Posts: 269
Reply with quote  #3 
The issue is I need to add a bunch of outlets on the wall.  I previously had 2 power bars plugged into 1 outlet in here.   Since stripping the wall I've discovered that the 2 outlets and light in this room are on the same circuit as the TV, game systems, media PC and lights in the rec room. Who knows what else is tied in.   As well I've been slowly wiring my house with temperature sensors and running network cable so conduit is needed.  I can stud the place in an afternoon so it's just a bit of extra cost and loss of space.     Besides I can insulate the 2x4 studding and get some serious insulation down here.

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Posts: 2,240
Reply with quote  #4 
OK, cheers, go for it !


(1)  "Heat goes from hot to cold, there is no directional bias"
(2) It's wrote, "voilà" unless talking musical instruments...

Posts: 269
Reply with quote  #5 
I was discussing using L flashing to build a collector box  in a different thread.   Here's a picture of what I was thinking
collector end view.png 
 The collector is a 16' long x 4' tall hizer.   Looking professional is important as keeping neighbours/wife  happy is needed.

The yellow is polyiso 2" thick.   I'd use two of them for the back  with 1 cut in half to make it 4x4,4x8,4x4.   on top of that I'd make a lip out of more 2" poly iso cut into 2"x2" strips.  this would be glued down to the back.  Joints staggered of course.   The back insulation would be glued to two 4'x8' sheets of coroplast to keep water out and again strengthen the joints in the insulation.   a 4"x4" piece of flashing goes down the sides and around the back, a 2"x2" piece goes inside the box to protect the insulation and then another 2"x2" would go over glazing and down the side.  The actual collector plate fits inside of all of that.    Glazing I'm thinking double wall but haven't managed to locate any locally yet.  

Here's a 3d view shoing how the insulation would go together with a bit of the flashing in place
collector no glazing.png 
Overall I think this design should be quite strong with most of the strength coming from the coroplast, insulation and glazing  and not rely too much on the flashing which is mostly just to keep water out and make things look nice.   Also this should be fairly light considering it's size which is important as it will be built in the carport then moved into place with assistance from my wife.  I can lift a lot but she won't be happy if this is 300lbs...

anyone have any thoughts?


Posts: 720
Reply with quote  #6 
Nice diagram of the collector. [smile] We love a visual aid of projects. It makes it a lot easier for us to assist if necessary. This is a hot air panel....right?

Copper & aluminum collector? Is this a mesh of some type that you have on-hand already? If so, it should be fine. If you plan to purchase both...I have to ask why??

Yea, copper is best option, but aluminum is a very good, lot cheaper option. As for performance, the copper is proven better, but at what expense?

I'm not sure colorplast needs to added. The foam is pretty rigid (especially 2") & should be able to support the panel itself.

My panels are made entirely of 1/2" polyiso glued together with silicone caulk. One panel is now on it's 4th winter & still intact.

What size vents are you planning to use? I suggest a minimum of 6" & maybe 8" if it's workable at your place.

It looks like a good project & looking forward to the pictures. [smile]

Central IL
Solar air & water

Posts: 269
Reply with quote  #7 
Nope it's actually a water heater.   3/4" copper headers,  1/2" copper risers with aluminum fins.

The reason I was thinking about the coroplast was to strength the joints in the foam.  If I cut 1 of the 8' insulation sheets in half but leave the coroplast and glazing in 8' lengths I can stagger the joints and it should be much strong.  I need to carry it from the carport to the final position in the back yard and I'm worried about it flexing to death during that process.

I've added an image of the backyard with pretty accurate shadowing.  This is noon on december 21st.   The collector will get full sun from 10am until about 2:30pm  During the summer it is full sun from 8:15am until just about 5:00pm


I actually made this image a few years back trying to decide what I wanted to do back there.   other then the collector not existing yet,  the beehive(white box) being in the front and the fences around the gardens not existing it's pretty much correct.


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Posts: 2,240
Reply with quote  #8 
Overall I think this design should be quite strong with most of the strength coming from the coroplast, insulation and glazing


I'd like to suggest tying the copper collector to the frame in some way (struts, braces, ties etc.): this makes for a rigid load-transfer system, that ought to provide ALL of the required rigidity. The insulation then has no load-carrying function at all... (which it is not really designed for...) and you can save the Coroplast for another project...
Idem for the glazing (particularly important if you decide to use mineral glass, perhaps less important if using plastic) (even then, the glazing ought not to have a structural function, since it needs to expand/contract, rather than be locked into a rigid set-up...)


(1)  "Heat goes from hot to cold, there is no directional bias"
(2) It's wrote, "voilà" unless talking musical instruments...

Posts: 269
Reply with quote  #9 
My office is long since done but having built myself a nice new office I'm forced onto some projects for my wife.  While those are underway  I decided to get my temperature logging off of the breadboard and ready to go.    

I'm using an arduino mega clone, the ethernet shield and a protoscrew shield.   The temp sensors are one-wire ds18b20's  and for wiring I've decided to go with cat 4 with standard rj-11 phone connections on the end.   to connect them to the screw shield I broke open phone splitters and wired each port to one pin on the arduino.   So I have 6 ports permanently set up to take data from one wire devices.  

The code is not pretty at the moment but it works looping through all 6  pins checking for one wire devices and then asking for a temperature reading.   All readings get added to a string that I send to a webpage as fast as the string is built and that webpage at the moment just displays the readings as a list  of sensor, temp.  

When the webpage gets a little prettier/more useful I'll share a link.  Because of how I built the page it updates in near realtime.  

So the end result is I have temperature readings from 11 different sensors in and outside of my house displaying on the web in near realtime.   It's pretty awesome in my opinion.

I still need to wire up two more strings of sensors,   maybe 3 if I get really ambitious.  1 to where my collector will be.   1 to the storage tank.  and maybe 1 to the last 3 room in the house that don't have sensors.   When wired  it's just a case of plug them in and I'm done.

I intend to add a couple more circuits to the arduino as well.   I have a relay that will be used to kick on the pumps for the collector.     I also have a few current sensors that I will put into place to measure when the electric water heater turns on and possibly the heat pump.    At that point I can log temperatures of everything, how often the water heater is turning on, and how often the heat pump is running.   Also displaying what the current status of everything is online. 

I ended up sticking everything in a $2 wood box from the dollar store to act as an enclosure.  It's well ventilated and not getting hot at all.  After that I screwed it to the wall under my desk and cleaned up the wires.  I'm really happy with how it's all turned out.


Next step I think will be burying conduit in the backyard to run the wire for the collector sensors.  Hmm I think I have everything I need to setup and start logging the water heater... The other option is get off my ass and finally finish the collector. It'll have to stagnate for awhile until I get the internal tank and laundry room sorted out for good...  Like I said  it's a long road on this install.

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Posts: 2,925
Reply with quote  #10 
Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
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