The following are a few kind comments from a few kind readers. 
Be sure to pick a strawberry before touching the sun.
If you do touch the sun you must allow 
the download of a simple px player
 to see the streaming video show.

I think you are doing a wonderful service for this country. Imagine if we actually became an energy independent country? No more Saudi oil? No more wars over Saudi oil? I think this country is in for a rude awakening very soon. Solar power, be it PV or thermal air, water heating, is finally becoming a reality for a great number of Americans. Thanks to people like you who share their expertise, it should be an easy transition. It will be the individual who makes the solar revolution possible. 
Obviously big business and the government have no intention of making it a reality.
Frank Davidson



It's funny how the big oil companies are silently developing and implementing PV and wind power, making us pay for it, and then will charge us for the free electricity produced by those systems. GET OFF THE GRID NOW!!! Thats my motto :) Little by little.............
Dan Crickmond


I am sooo excited about your site. Can I link you to our site. We operate a vegetarian organic style restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah. We need you here to talk to our Mayor Rocky Anderson about Passive Solar. I would love to utilize your well refined concepts. 
I have one question. Why do you not design with the north side of the structure to be placed into a south facing slope? Or, would that be a bad idea for some reason? 
Your website was very impressive.
By the way, check out our passive solar sun room at our restaurant with natural grape vine shade system for the hot summer season. Our swamp cooler wouldn't even touch the heat of this south facing room in July. Now the room is comfortable all summer and we didn't pay for a 2,500.00 awning and we don't ever use shades.
We diffuse light with plants on the inside of the 5ft by 5ft windows.
Check out 
I would love to talk with you, I really want to learn more so that Utah can start building more sustainable buildings. Every time I see a building go up without the respect for the sun, I am sad. We will make positive change with positive people!
Peace, Bless all of your efforts! Ian Brandt Sage's Cafť Vegetarian Organic, Salt Lake City, Utah


I bought the dream 100 Acres of bush last month, and while I'm not quite set to go "off grid", I definitely want to design a house that minimizes its dependence on outsourced electricity. I expect the heating will be solar thermal, with propane backup. The well and the thermal pumps will both be 120V, with battery backup, driven by PV cell. As electrical blackouts in Northern Ontario are a fact of life, I expect I'll be more comfortable than many of my neighbors.
Kind regards
Jon Kidd



Here a question from sunny South Africa. I received the manual for the solar hot water system, thanks, I love these kind of projects. But a question:Do you paint the whole absorber plate with your 'secret mix' or only the grooves with the copper tube in it?
A friend on mine owns a farm in the bush out here. He installed some solar collectors (manufactured ones) for powering a pump at a borehole. However the baboons use the collectors as a nice slide, after first playing in the waterhole (a muddy affair). Also, birds like to 'pollute' the collector. Because the collector is fitted in a remote corner of the farm the cleaning of the collector was a bit of a hassle. We fitted a cheap rubber snake (bought in a toy shop) on the collector. No baboons and no birds anymore..... :). thanks in advance,
Alexander Tilanus 



Thank you very much John. Iíll certainly look forward to all items. The MM show is a great bonus thank you again.



I just moved near San Antonio, Texas where there is a lot of sun. I have an acre lot that's fairly flat and free of trees just sitting there doing nothing. I'd like to turn part of this into electricity from the sun. I have the electronics know-how. I have a Ph.D in electrical engineering and have worked over 9 years in electronics, power electronics. I was the first person at Caterpillar, Inc. in Illinois to design and develop a utility-interactive power converter. I was the principal investigator on a DOE project recently that took power from a PEM fuel cell and sent it into the utility - with my power converter. My power converter performed flawlessly. I've used both voltage and current control techniques in controlling power into the utility while maintaining a very high power factor and efficiency. I just need to get from the sun to some type of rotating shaft. Sterling engines sound interesting. 




I also have an old parabolic dish (satellite dish) - one of the great big ones - just sitting out beside the house aimed toward the southern sky. I was thinking of the possibility of using this with a Sterling engine (and maybe some cool well water on the cold side). Parabolic troughs are also interesting to me, although I'm not sure of the process of going from a heated liquid (and what type of liquid) to a rotating shaft. Any advice or direction you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I enjoyed your website.
Thank you.
Jim Johnson 26925 Bent Trail Boerne, Tx 78006



I just received your book. It is great! I have a U.S. SOLAR CORP. collector model CF32SGC that I bought at a yard sale. It has never been used but the glass was broken and the absorber plate, (copper I think), has separated from the risers. The new glass would probably be $350 and I am not sure how to re-bond the plate to the risers. Would it be worth fixing this collector? Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Paul 




Just finished reading How to Build a Solar Hot Water System for the 4th time since it arrived. Great book!
Before I ask a bunch of dumb questions I should ask if you have written a book about heating the entire house with solar as well as the hot water system. 
I live on the north coast of British Columbia, Canada in what is called temperate rainforest; not ideal country for solar energy (rainfall sometimes averages over 100" per year and daylight as short as 7 hours on the winter solstice) but I envision a hybrid system between solar and an outdoor woodfurnace/ boiler spliced together and feeding heat into a heat vault storage system similar (but larger of course) than the one described in your book. I would imagine that, with a limited amount of solar energy such as this, simply installing more collectors might be part of the solution?
We do have one advantage though. During summer our days are very long (sunset last night at 10:30) and there is a vast amount of solar energy available. Do you think it practical to try to build an immense super-insulated heat vault to try to store enough energy during the summer to sypply heating needs for a few months of the winter?
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this and to know if you have a book available on the subject of whole house heating. Thank you. Yours truly, Bob Prud'Homme



Hi, Mr. canivan , I ordered your book how to build solar hot water panel about too are three years ago and they are working great .They give me all the hot water i need and thin some .I will send a pic of them asap so you can see the solar panel i made from your book and i am going to hook a heat exchanger to my house heating unit soon to see if it will heat my house in the winter.If any good ideas please let me know . Jonatan Godwin



I am unable to find that exact title on the web site. Which is why I emailed you. I only need 11 copies of "Do it Yourself Solar". Is it available on the website under a different title?




I bought one of your books and absolutely loved it. Iím an electrician in a power plant and also built my own home, including the plumbing, so Iím very confident in building your designs. My question is in regards to my already highly efficient system of geothermal wells and a heat pump combined with the latest version of Carrier super efficient furnace. Iíd still like to stay as green as possible, not to mention taking a buck or two from big oil. Is there a way that a radiator device could be installed in my return duct, just before the furnace, thus reducing the temperature rise from return air to heated air? This ďradiatorĒ would of course be fed from one of your solar collector devices and the furnace already sits on the south side of the house in the basement, which is nice for full sun effects and a short run of supply and return lines to the collector (approx 25í). Iíve also considered the need to place an air filter before the ďin duct radiatorĒ to keep it from plugging up over the years with dust. I could also parallel part of the return duct, to be dampered out in summer months. I have tons of ideas, even a free standing radiator(s) with flexible lines. Iíd need to pick your brain a little and maybe get the name of a retailer that would sell such items if I couldnít make them. I hope to hear from you. Good work!
Kevin Cassidy Bartonville, Illinois



Hi John
Thank you. I'm giving a class on solar water heating on Oct. 16th, and 
want to use this as the text.
Steve Spence
Dir., Green Trust,
Contributing Editor,







Here is a shot of my solar panels on my flat roof townhouse in downtown
Baltimore City.




I'm reading your book, How to Build a Solar Hot Water System. Do you ever run hands on workshops? I'd be most interested.
John Howell




We have lots of hot Texas sun, so that is not the issue. The real issue I see is where to put the storage tanks. We donít have a basement, so trying to think that one through. Iíve also looked at a commercially built system (Solar Roofs Ė System 5) that uses an expensive Rheem 80 gallon heat exchanger tank. Seems to me that does not have enough storage for what weíre looking for. Thanks for your book, and for your vision of practical solar applications.
Rick Boynton


I did not expect such a quick response or personal response! Iíve been interested in solar energy for some time, but never did more than read a bit here and there. Now, however, we will be building a house in 2006 and a solar hot water system is a definite part of the plan. The front of the house will face SE, so I may be able to incorporate some other solar design. Iím sure to enjoy your book. The intro on the website was great; I like your informal writing style. I write technically in the avionics fieldóreal dry stuff. Iíll be browsing more of your material. Thank you for the invitation, too.
Thanks, John; good luck, Mike


John, I received the Solar Hot Water book and CD yesterday. My seven year old and I watched the CD immediately and found it to be a great introduction and it provoked some pretty good questions from her. I have since read the book and found it to be one of the best books Iíve ever read, in terms of the author sharing practical and valuable ideas with enough detail for me to actually use. There were only a couple of places where on the first reading, I wasnít exactly sure what was meant, but Iím sure that it will be clear when actually doing. Thank you.
Thanks again for a very excellent book and for sharing your knowledge, experience and ideas.


I received the book and CD today. That was fast! I went through the entire CD and feel the purchase price was well worth what I paid. 
I work in aviation maintenance and I am thinking of using a product called Flamemaster to adhere the collector plates to the copper tubing. This substance is mixed in its' tube and is applied like a caulking gun. It hardens like a tough rubber and is very difficult to pull away from any clean surface you put it on. It is used to seal "wet" wing fuel tanks and for sealing cracks or holes in firewalls. It takes high heat and has a long life.
Another product that might be useful is "wing walk" paint. The non-slip surface treatment on top of a wing where you walk to the cabin door. It is most like a black Rustoleum with sand in it. Do you think the roughness created by the sand would help absorption of sunlight. It would create more surface area and it sticks well to bare aluminum. I would guess it to be 1/32" thick when applied.
Ron Collins, Williamsport, PA



Love the input. I will send a check tomorrow for 75 dollars. I would like to purchase a copy of "Solar Heating Projects". My address is Doug Jacobs, POB 4935, Sunriver, OR, 97707. All of the above information will be printed on the check. Everyone who is interested in a more self sufficient existence appreciates all the hard work you and others are doing. Thx.



yeah hate to admit it but this guy Canivan seems to have worked out the
details. except for changing some materials for local conditions I
followed his book almost to the letter and the thing worked pretty good. I
would make a few minor changes in doing it again but nothing substantive.
and I've paid a whole lot more in the past for a whole lot less complete
instructions. but don't tell Canivan he might raise the price of the
book. . Feel free to quote me on your website for a book review. 'How to Build a Solar Hot Water 
System' by John Canivan is a terrific end-to-end actual construction 
plan for a flat panel solar thermal collector and heat 
storage/transfer system. It also has a short primer on the theory 
behind solar thermal. The construction plan is well thought out from start to finish and 
includes DIY designs for not only the components, but also all the 
jigs used in forming the more difficult pieces. See John's website for ordering details, it's worth the few $$ he 
asks for it.




Thank you very much. I would still like to listen to your lectures if any are local. Audrey
Thank you very much!!
Laura Kaufman Senior Operations Specialist
Blackwell's Book Services
6024 Jean Rd., Bldg. G
Lake Oswego, Or 97035 USA



Just wanted to drop you a note and a few pictures. The panels and the storage all based on the designs from your book. Storage barrel number 2 of 4 is currently holding at 102 deg. (this is where my PLC monitors storage tempture) I have been able to drive the panel stagnation tempters past 160 deg on good sunny days. This winter I will be finishing the second heat storage unit this will add another 1834 pounds of hot water storage. My next set of panels I am going to start experimenting with vacuum evacuated heat transfer elements to improve on my collection at less than peak sun times. Then if all of that works out I will be adding a liquid to air heat exchange coil to my existing oil hot air furnace to shift some of my domestic heat load to solar. Thanks for all of the insight.






Feel free to use the pictures if you would like.
I saw the pictures of the trickle down on your web site. I was toying with the idea of using variable speed circulators or stepper motor pumps to see how pump speed would impact temperature collection. In theory if you could move the water slow enough you could run the pump as long as you had sunlight enough to make useable temperature.
I would be interested in your design for a 1500 lb storage unit. I need to build more storage capacity and panels before I can do any space heating.
I should be able to swing by to see if your old house is still as pictured.I live on Irish Settlement Road between 190 and Mason Street. Its just around the corner from me. I'll let you know what I find. 



Good morning Mr. Canivan:
I received your book and the CD. Thanks for the speedy delivery. The materials are quite nice and written or produced at an easily understandable level that almost everyone should be able to follow. This is precisely what I was looking for..
I am a mechanical engineer w/ a little background in solar energy theory. There is quite a difference in understanding the theory and converting it into a practical working piece of equipment or a system. I have been considering for quite sometime the idea or either purchasing or building some solar collectors for my home. However, until your publication, I had not seen complete instructions for the do-it-yourselfer on how to build an entire water heating system from scratch using flat plate collectors. Sincerely, Steve Rody


Love what your doing and how you think. The solar projects book ... will that
easily help me design and size and build real world projects also (rather than just be a tutorial
on principles and student projects ) ? thanks: i really like that fact that you out a lot of numbers in your discussions
to make clear the points - i imagine you also inlcude alot of material properties 
in your writings ?


The Americans are the most efficient people on earth ... having invented so wide a range of 
pithy and hackneyed phrases that they can carry on a conversation without giving a moments 
reflection to what they [or the other person] are saying and so leave their minds free to 
consider the more important matters of big business and fornication. -- Somerset Maughan 
(1965) "Cakes and Ale".



Dear John,
No problems with the downloads. Books are great. If you have anymore good 
books let me know in my e-mail. Most people do not understand that prices 
will kept going up and something needs to be done by us as people not the 
government. I do understand the rape of our resources that we are also doing.


Hi Everyone-
It took me quite a while to finish my own solar thermal system but mine is finally installed and running. Some of you may recall I was the electroplating dude and I can report to you that my two panels appear to be working just fine. I don't 
know if they're working any better or worse than the painted ones but they are working. I've taken quite a few photos along the way and will post them before too long. I just wanted to pop in and say thanks to John Canivan for designing 
a heck of a system. I was able to build it entirely myself (having no skills to begin with), and with the help of a couple of friends, install the system in my space challenged home. I now have a 2-panel, 3-tank system which is currently storing 165 
gallons of 100+ degree F water.
    I also have joined a local group in my community that installs evacuated tube systems in each others homes (thus saving labor costs... and believe me, there is ALOT of labor that goes into this). I encourage people reading this to form similar groups with like minded individuals in their own towns. It's a great way to make new friends, participate in securing the energy future of your community, and build your own skill/knowledge base. 
visit  to see some of our group's work.
Thanks again John. Great plans. I had a blast and learned a lot.



Dear John,
We have thoroughly enjoyed your book How to Build a solar Hot Water
System. We're using it in an environmental class. we are building the
four panel unit and will probably use your design for the non pressurized
heat storage vault. 
All has gone well. I'm now looking for a pump and sensors to transfer
the heated water. What would you recommend in size? Or where should I
order these parts? 
Thanks for your help, John



I have 4 of the John Canivan designed panels (128sqft) bought his book and
followed the directions (mostly) he's the webmaster here so I'm sure he
would give you the addres, probably the best return on $30 investment I've
ever gotten.




Hi John,
I found your book very valuable. It explains the
technology along with how to build it yourself.
Even though I decided not to build a heat collector
myself, your book gives me the feeling of familiarity
and a much greater appreciation for the details of
such a system.  With gratitude for all expert advice. ........Helmut


Aristotle once said:
"Each human being is bred with a unique set of potentials that yearn to be fulfilled as surely as the acorn yearns to become the oak within it. " Join the
Solar Thermal Energy Group. Pick a strawberry, share your ideas, become an oak tree and change the world.

An Inconvenient Truth
When the Lights go Out  
Sun Dancing With Robert Redford
Earth Bound Leonardo 
Bonnie Raitt, the Sunshine Lady  

Utopian Dream