Recycle For Solar

As you know solar applications can be used to save energy but did you know a solar heated domestic hot water system can be made from recycled materials? Of course old solar collectors are sometimes recycled, but let’s not forget about the heat storage systems as well as collector absorber plates made from recycled products.




Conventional 100 gallon solar hot water tanks have a retail cost of about $1000 not counting the sales tax, but you can make your own solar hot water tank for less than $100 by recycling throw-away tanks. All it takes is a steel tank, a coil of copper, a few fittings, a few rolls of aluminum foil and lots of duct tape. Long, narrow recycled steel tanks with a large surface area to volume ratio may also be used to make passive batch heaters.

Batch heaters are sometimes known as a “breadbox” heaters, because they look a lot like an oversized breadboxes. A salvaged long thin electric water heater tank can be housed in an insulated plywood box or an old refrigerator to make a batch heater. Fiberglass or high temperature resistant plastic covers the box. Polycarbonate may also be used as a glazing.


55 gallon plastic drums are another possibility. Many manufacturers are anxious to have their empties removed from the premises. Some companies even pay to have them removed. These FREE plastic drums make excellent heat storage containers when connected in series with drain back or trickle down solar heating systems. 


Most flat pate solar collector use copper or aluminum absorber plates bonded to copper flow tubes. My first absorber plates were made from used aluminum printing plates. They had to be shaped and coated and bonded to copper flow tubes to be useful but the price was right. I have also used aluminum flashing to make absorber plate, But today I make absorber plates from a felt recycled plastic material made from a polyethylene terephthalic polymer.


The PET polymer is made from oil products such as ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. Look for a #1 circled with a triangle on the bottom of your next soda bottle. Code #1 designates a PET thermo setting plastic product that has become very popular because it's inexpensive, lightweight, shatter resistant and recyclable. Once PET soda bottles and other food grade containers are recycled they become RPET products and may not be used to hold food or beverages. Recycled PET products furnish the fabric and auto parts industry as well as a host of other industries with this fundamental plastic. Over three million tons of PET materials are produced every year in the USA alone, but less than 1 million tons are recycled. Let's stop filling the dumps with this this valuable non-biodegradable plastic and lets recycle. I use a polyester felt material to make MTD collector absorber mats from recycled PET products and so can you.