Can I build my own Hot Water Solar Panels?
Solar Power is great. I installed it myself about 2 years ago, and you really do notice the change within the first couple months. Building it yourself is actually pretty tricky without the right resources. Some of the guides don't have enough detailed information that you need when you start putting the project together. I was having a lot of trouble until I stumbled upon a site that was offering some great resources for solar DIY projects. I went ahead and added it to the sources section below. It's great and has everything you would need for putting your own solar projects together, including hot water solar panels. Hope this helps!
I worked for a plumbing service that offered hot water solar panel installs and replacements. I've replaced perfectly good solar panels for people who wanted to upgrade to the latest. We had piles and piles of panels out behind the shop. We use to scrap the copper and sell the glass panes. A few people would ask to scavenge panels and the boss would let them have it cheap, just to move some of the stuff. I would do the same. I'd find a local installer and see what they do with the leftovers. Chances are, if you searched diligently, you could probably find panels in good shape and use them to supplement your energy usage. Bear in mind, solar hot water system are very different from standard systems. They usually have a much larger storage tank. Typically 80-20 gallons compared to 40. They have a circulating pump and temperature sensors to move the heated water from the panel into the tank. These larger hot water heaters/tanks have much better storage and insulation to keep the water temperature that is generated during the day to last into the evening when people are home to use the shower and wash clothes to take advantage of solar heat. It's not just a matter of getting a panel and slapping it up. There's are technical aspects that need to be followed and if you don't know them, I would advise against doing it yourself. Study up on it and see if it's something you want to tackle on your own before you go too far doing legwork to find out details that might be cost prohibitive or too complicated. Good luck.
If you are just looking for hot water, you can build your own water pre-heater with copper tubing, mirrors, black engine paint, wood for an enclosure, and glass to cover the enclosure. I have seen plans online but cannot recall just now where. I've included some links below that you might want to check out. Also, you may want to check on tax rebates in your area for using solar. In some areas you can get rebates to pay nearly 00% of the cost. Or search for how to build a solar water heater for a LOT of online sites. One caution, do NOT use water directly from a solar water heater as it can be hot enough to burn your skin.