Materials List: Solar Water:
Heat it Up!

For solar water heater construction, each group needs access to:

  • drills
  • hand saws
  • hot glue guns
  • hammers
  • box cutters
  • scissors

Groups should also have access to as many of the following building material options as possible:

Schematic of the solar water heater testing setup. Two 250 watt heat lamps are placed over an example solar water heater. There are labels where the heat and water enter the water heater. A water collection tank holds a pump and a tube exiting the water heater and another tube that pumps water into the water heater.
Figure 1: Set-up for testing the solar water heaters.
Copyright © 2012 Odessa Gomez, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

  • newspaper
  • tar paper
  • plexiglass
  • 2" x 4" wood
  • plywood
  • ¼" ID clear plastic tubing, available at hardware stores
  • 5/8" ID PVC
  • 5/8" PVC elbow/T connectors
  • ¼" ID black rubber hosing
  • black spray paint
  • cardboard
  • zip ties
  • hot glue sticks
  • duct tape
  • rigid insulation
  • nails
  • screws
  • aluminum foil
  • bubble wrap
  • 14 gauge wire
  • 4 mm clear plastic sheeting
  • plastic wrap

Testing station materials (Note: it is recommended to have one testing station per group):

  • 2 250-Watt heat lamps (heat lamps need to be placed on stands; try using chemistry lab stands with clamps so students can position the lamps to their liking)
  • submersible fountain pump with adjustable flow control (aim for maximum flow rate of 130 gallon per minute, gpm; make sure pump is completely submerged throughout the entire test)
  • a container that holds at least 1 gallon of water (make sure water completely submerges fountain pump)
  • a temperature probe or thermometer
  • stopwatch
  • hose connections to connect the testing station tubing and the solar water heater tubing (students are given the option of using PVC, hosing or clear tubing, so the testing set-up must be able to adapt to the different connections between the water heaters and the hosing for pumping and draining the water into the container; see Figure 1)