October | 2020 | Man Cave Master

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solar shower diy

Showering under the open sky in the backyard or on your campsite is a beautiful thing on a warm summer day. Showering with warm water is incredibly pleasant: This is made possible by a solar shower, which heats the water with the sun’s power in a cost-neutral and environmentally friendly way. With a little skill, you can build a solar shower yourself in just a few steps and with the right material, available at the hardware store. 

How does a solar shower work?

All solar showers have in common that they use the sun’s power to heat the shower water without electricity. Solar showers, which can be purchased as ready-to-install units, are also based on the same principle. They are equipped with a large water tank, which is covered with a black coating. This coating absorbs the sun’s rays and transfers the bundled heat to the water in the water tank.

The water heats up to 60 degrees Celsius within a short time. An integrated single-lever mixer is used to supply cold water from the garden hose so that you can shower with that pleasantly warm water. 

This principle can also be easily applied to a water canister or a water barrel, with which you can build a solar shower yourself.

Build a solar shower yourself: What do you need?

  • Canister or water barrel
  • Garden hose
  • Showerhead or spray gun
  • Mixer tap

Instruction: Build your solar shower

Even without outstanding craftsmanship and with the material mentioned above, you can build a solar shower yourself in just a few steps.

1. Suitable container

If you want to build a solar shower yourself, the first step is to choose a fitting container for the shower water. Well suited for this are water canisters or water barrels, which you usually have in your garden to water your plants. The container must have a 3/4″ connection for standard garden hoses. To ensure that the sunlight is ideally absorbed, you should choose a black container if possible.

Alternatively, you can also paint or spray it with simple black paint. With the canister’s size, keep in mind that the water’s heating time depends on it. The larger the canister, the longer it takes for the water to reach a comfortable temperature. Canisters with a capacity of 6.6 – 15.8 gallons are recommended. They should not be smaller, because otherwise, the showering processes are too low and should be worth it if you want to build a solar shower yourself.

2. Suitable location

In the next step, you should consider where to place the container if you want to build the most efficient solar shower yourself. The location will later determine how much sunlight is absorbed and how quickly the shower water warms up. So choose a place in the garden that is as sunny as possible. However, when choosing a location, make sure that the sunlight is not disturbed by shadows cast by adjacent trees or buildings.

Another important factor when choosing a location is the height required to create sufficient pressure. Therefore, areas at high altitudes, such as the roof of a garage, a carport, or garden shed, are well suited. Alternatively, the water tank can also be placed on a wooden trestle to gain height.

3. Interconnecting a mixer tap

Depending on the canister’s size, the water can heat up to over 122 degrees Fahrenheit within a short time, so it is advisable to mix the heated shower water in the container with fresh cold water. The Interconnecting of a mixer tap is ideal for this purpose. The mixer tap is installed underneath the canister and connected to the canister with a garden hose. The 3/4″ connection on the water tank is used for this purpose. The mixer tap is also connected to the cold water, e.g., the water pump and another garden hose.

If you cannot connect the mixer tap to a cold water connection, you can use a second water container instead. However, this should not be painted black. It is placed next to the dark container, and a hose also leads directly to the mixer tap. Now follows the last step, if you want to build a solar shower yourself.

4. Connect the showerhead

From the mixer tap, a line now leads to the showerhead. You can also use a spray gun for this. When the mixer tap is turned on, the canister’s heated water is now mixed with the fresh cold water, resulting in pleasant water temperatures. 

Building a solar shower yourself without a mixer tap?

You can build a solar shower yourself without a mixer tap. The garden hose is connected to the 3/4″ connection on the water tank, and the showerhead or spray gun is attached to the other end. As mentioned above, the water heats up quickly depending on the sun’s intensity and can be too hot for showering. Therefore you should not place the water canister directly in the sun but prefer a partially shaded spot.

This way, the water does not heat up as quickly. If in doubt, you can add cold water from the garden hose to the canister’s warm water. This cools down the heated water, and you can shower with comfortably warm water. Using this method, you can build a solar shower yourself even without a mixer tap.

Tip: If you have a conventional garden shower with a cold water connection and you do not want to build a solar shower yourself, you can lay the garden hose across the garden so that the sun heats the water in the garden hose during the day. The garden shower is then turned on, and at least the first shower can be enjoyed with warm water. So you can enjoy a warm shower without having to build a solar shower yourself.

Conclusion: 

To shower with warm water in your garden, it does not always have to be a solar shower from the hardware store. In just a few steps and with the right material, you can build a solar shower yourself. The water is heated in an eco-friendly and cost-neutral way. All you need is a black water canister with a capacity of at least 6.6 gallons. 

Place it in a location that is as sunny and elevated as possible so that it can absorb solar energy. Within a short time, the water in this container heats up and can reach over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the shower water could potentially be too hot, you should use a single-lever mixer. A garden hose leads from the water canister to the single-lever mixer, and another hose connects it to the cold water connection. From the mixer tap, a line finally goes to the showerhead. A spray gun, for example, is suitable for this. When the water is turned on, heated water and fresh cold water mix, and you can take a shower in the garden at pleasant temperatures with the solar shower built by you. 

If you follow these steps, you, too, can build a solar shower yourself and enjoy a wonderfully warm shower in your garden.