DIY Outdoor Solar ShowerBy
The summer is here, the days are warm and we spend a lot more time outdoors. Outdoor solar showers are a great feature to install in our backyard. Not just your heating bill will go down considerably; also you will be doing a contribution to the environment. Solar showers rely on passive solar heating and gravity feed, which make them cheaper than installing a full photovoltaic solar system and easier to install. Basically, you hang a black water container overhead under the sun, attached to a garden hose. Wait for a few hours until the water is hot, and when it is ready you stand underneath and open the spigot, voila! . Another project I found consist of an ABS pipe that contain the water to be heated, so you have as much water as long is the pipe.
In any case, there are a few design criteria you need to consider:
It is important to determine how and when are you going to use the shower, in order to decide its water capacity, heating system, dimensions, enclosure or not.
Are you going to use it as a replacement of your indoor shower? To refresh after a sunbath? Or to soak out the chlorine water after a dip in the pool before head indoors?
Location and dimensions
You will want the shower in a shady and private place. It should be within short distance of the hosepipe and should be easily accessible. Look for sites away of sight of upstairs or neighbor’s windows. You should consider around 9 feet x 16 feet for comfort if it will be an enclosure space.
If your hose is too far from the hosepipe, you will experience a drop in the water pressure. It is better design provide a water tank. It could be rescue from a thrift store or a garage sale. Also you can use a garbage can, drilling holes on it to fit the garden hose and the shower pipe. The holes need to be sealed with silicone and place o-rings on the adapters.
Be sure the container is black, so it maximizes the heat absorption. It should be mounted above the shower head to have a good pressure.
It’s a good idea to mount a wood deck about a foot above ground level, to allow a natural drainage of the water to the garden. Or better, you can install underneath a simple galvanized steel drainage box to channel soiled water away to the soak away or other drainage system you have built. This deck will make cleaning easier and will provide a safer walk-in barefoot surface.
In any case, you need to found out whatever rules are in force for your neighborhood about gray water drainage.
The solar heating system of your choice, either a garden hose, black tank or both, needs to have plenty of full sun. With an adequate exposure, it will take just a few minutes to reheat water for the next shower. Before use, test the temperature of the water, it could get really hot in some areas.
Be careful of trees or plants surrounding the shower. Dropping leaves can accumulate fast and is not fun have to clean up every time you wanted to use the shower.