Homemade cheap solar water heater

Have you ever turned on your garden hose to find out that the water was so hot you would cook your plants unless you let the water run awhile?  Well if you haven’t, give it a try. It is the inspiration behind our cheap solar water heater. Several years back, my Dad gave us a bunch of irrigation tubing. We decided to try to turn it into a solar water heater. It worked really well, so when we moved, we brought it to the new house. This is how we hooked it up.

The solar water heater we have is a black garden hose connected to an outdoor spigot at one end. The hose travels up the side of the house and onto the roof.


The next end is connected to another hose, then about 100 feet of irrigation tubing.


Special fittings were added to be able to connect it to the hose.

The next part is a hose that is designed to withstand hot temperatures. It is red. We got it at Lowe’s.

At the end of the red hose is a metal piece that allows you to shut the water off.

We keep the water turned on at the spigot all the time. This keeps water in the hose. We have had problems doing this. The hoses sometimes weaken with the hot sun and you get leaks or large busted holes. Then my husband repairs it and we may turn the water off each time we use it for awhile, then go back to leaving it on. Even if you turn the water off in between uses, there will still be enough left in the hose for the next time. If you had the mental ability to do this, you could turn the water on about 30 minutes before you needed it and then off when finished. My mind just doesn’t work that way.

Obviously, the more hose length you have, the more water you can heat up. There is a formula to find out exactly how much water a hose will hold according to its diameter and length.  Someone else can figure that out. I don’t know how many feet of hose we really have, but we can get about 10 gallons of hot water. Now remember, we only use about 4-5 gallons of water for bathing. The only other thing we use the water for is laundry. The washer needs 7 gallons to get it going. I don’t add more for the rinse cycle. The other thing to consider is that the water temp will vary from 110F to 140F when it is in the sun. If you do a bucket bath you may need to add cold water to get a reasonable temperature. Don’t burn yourself!

If you were to attempt a do it yourself version like we have, remember we live in Florida. We have less than 20 days of below freezing temps. If you live in a colder climate you may need to drain all the hoses and store them for the winter. For even more information on various DIY solar projects visit this site:

http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/WaterHeating/water_heating.htm  They even have the garden hose as an option. Any questions?



  1. Christine said,

    May 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for the details. I looked at the website too — the warm outdoor shower sounds really appealing!

  2. wasteweardaily said,

    May 8, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Your welcome.

  3. martin said,

    July 10, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    very cool,thanks

  4. Lochinvar said,

    April 7, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Well said. I never thought I would agree with this opinion, but it appears that I’m starting to see things from a different point of view. I have to analyse more on this as it looks very interesting. One thing I don’t understand though is how everything is related together.

    • wasteweardaily said,

      April 7, 2011 at 9:55 am

      I’d be glad to clear things up for you, but I don’t know if your lack of understanding is about how to assemble the cheap water heater or if there is a more broad topic you want to know about relating together. Let me know if you have any specific questions.

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