Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A DIY Solar Shower is Easy, Cheap and Fun!

Would you like a shower in your backyard? Why not have an outdoor solar shower? You can make a simple shower with a length of garden pipe, up to a really sophisticated static shower cubicle with proper drainage, privacy and decking to keep feet clean whilst drying off.

We will consider a simple solar heated shower design which will fit neatly into the average backyard, possibly close to a swimming pool or hot tub, both of which could be heated from the shower's hot water supply.

Your primary concern must be proper drainage for the solar heated shower. Your local authorities might permit drainage into a simple pit or into a vegetable patch. On the other hand you might need a proper mains drainage system. You will have to observe whatever rules are in force for your neighborhood.

Here are the other main criteria for the design of your outdoor solar shower:

Privacy. Do you need to avoid being overlooked? If the answer is yes, then the shower will need to be shielded from upstairs and neighbors'windows.

Water Supply. You will experience a small drop in water pressure if your shower is a long way from your mains supply. Boost shower flow by including an old water tank or cylinder in the solar heating line, ideally mounted above the shower head height to give a good head of pressure.

Sunlight. The solar collector (hose, cylinder or both) needs good exposure to the sun's heat. Usually it will only take a few minutes to reheat water for the next shower, but the time taken can be badly affected by shade or poor positioning from direct sunlight.

Use. Is the solar heated shower to be used after having a dip in the pool or hot tub? To cool off after a sunbathe? These things will have a strong influence on your shower design.

Litter. Leaves can collect in the shower, and it is a chore to remove them every time you want to use it. A wooden lid is a good idea to cover the shower pan when not being used, and locate the shower as far as possible from your trees.

Between 9 and 16 square feet is a good size for an outdoor solar shower, and build it on decking about a foot above the ground, to allow the fitting of a suitable galvanized tray under the shower drain, to collect soiled water and in turn drain it into the soakaway system.

The decking can be extended for 4 or 5 feet at the shower entrance, to allow comfortable drying off without getting feet dirty. Use 4x4 pressure-treated softwood uprights for the corners of the shower cubicle, and make the sides of the shower from wood or fiber cement paneling.

The solar heating system itself is very simple to make. It could be as basic as fixing a shower head to 500 feet of flexible pipe coiled in the sun. A better way is to coil the water pipe in an open tray over the shower and facing towards the sun. If you need more hot water you could use an old water tank or hot water cylinder in the solar heating pipe, but this would have to be higher than the shower head to give you enough pressure.

In warmer climates it is advisable to fit a mixer, for allowing hot and cold water to merge before you burn yourself in the shower!

If you would like proper expert advice we have a strongly recommended guide to help you select and build the right outdoor solar shower for you. It includes good quality plans, schematic diagrams and clear instructions to make the whole process easy and fun.

Autor: Kieran Gracie

Author: Kieran Gracie


Our aim is to provide in one place expert advice and guidance for making a number of backyard building projects, such as sheds, chicken coops, log cabins, wind turbines, windmills, solar water heaters for houses and swimming pools, solar panels and other easy step-by-step guides for the amateur and professional alike.

For more information about making an outdoor solar shower please go to our website. We hope you will find your visit interesting and stimulating.

Added: August 19, 2009