Solar Hot Water: The Simpler Way

To those of you in the Northern hemisphere, who are heading into the depths of winter, this post may be a bit offensive. My apologies in advance.

The temperature today in Melbourne, Australia, reached a toasty 29 degrees (celsius) and that signifies the beginning of the season of solar hot water – but solar hot water the simpler way. Yes, ’tis the season for the outside shower!

In these temperatures, there is no need to use electricity or gas to heat your hot water for a shower; nor is there any need to purchase expensive and sophisticated solar hot water systems. All you need is black, watertight bag and a place to hang it, and there you have it – an outside shower that provides hot water. It’s really as simple as that.

And as  Leonardo da Vinci once wrote: ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’

Not only does this simple method of solar heating save money on energy bills, it also significantly reduces the amount of water used in washing, both of  which are financially and environmentally beneficial. Best of all, perhaps, is the experience.

This is one of the many luxuries of the simple life.


9 Responses to “Solar Hot Water: The Simpler Way”

  1. Hi, do you have any more detailed pics or instructions for building this? How do you collect the water and get it into the bag, etc. Although I’m mainly wondering what the pink phallic thing hanging from the bottom is!!!

  2. Samuel Alexander says:

    Hi Stuart, I just bolted that log of wood in a couple places. I then drilled a hole at the top and put on another bolt, upon which I hung the bag. The pink phallic thing, as you say, is the shower head where the water flows from. I have found it is easiest to fill the bag with a watering can (without the head on it). This was easier than filling on the ground and then lifting.


  3. Miro says:

    Well you could tie the bag to some string which you hoist over that bolt and then you fill it at ground level. Pull the string to raise it (tie it to something) and then in about 30 mins on a sunny day shower away…..bliss

  4. Samuel Alexander says:

    Hi Miro, I thought of that and tried it, I just found this method easier. But others might find that the pulley system works for them. As for the time heating, I’ve found that even on a very hot day, it takes several hours to heat the water, but of course when it is really hot, a warm or cool shower is best.

  5. SJ says:

    And if you use Thursday Island tea tree soap for washing body and hair, you will save money and have only bio degradable packaging. No plastic bottles or wrappers.

  6. d'Arcy says:

    I used a similar contraption and system in Ethiopia where I lived without power or running water. It was a bit of a saviour in the cool climate of the mountains – without having to go for a long run before a cold shower! Also a good idea is to give it a shake before showering so the hot water doesn’t just sit on the top.
    Latest post from d’Arcy…A Day in Doha…

  7. […] For other alternative technologies, see my posts on the Solar Oven here and the Solar Shower Bag here. […]

  8. timothy says:

    solor heating with aluminum cans! has any one checked it out on youtube?

  9. […] other alternative technologies, see my posts on the Solar Oven here and the Solar Shower Bag here. […]

  10. […] For my experiments with other alternative technologies, see my deindustrial washing machine, my solar oven, and my solar shower. […]

  11. […] For my experiments with other alternative technologies, see my deindustrial washing machine, my solar oven, and my solar shower. […]

  12. […] technology that I’ve written about, see my posts on solar ovens (here), my solar shower bag (here) my post-electric washing machine (here), and my non-electric fridge […]

  13. Amanda says:

    Paint a few 5/10 litre water bottles black. Put in sun in morning 10-ish Within 2 hours water warm enough for shower/dishes. Use tap if bottle has one or make 3-5 holes in cap of 5 litre bottle. Wet quickly. Soap down. Wash. Rinse. Enough to wash shorter hair.

  14. Mary says:

    Where we previously lived, we had black piping on the roof of the house that was connected from the water tank to the outdoor shower. I remember the first time we used the outdoor shower, the water was very hot! We then plumbed in the cold water and was able to have a mix of hot and cold. We were very impressed. Our new place, we have not figured out where to have an outdoor shower. The property is more open.

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