Hot Water : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Has anybody solved the hot water problem? I need suggestions - how to heat it and run it into your house or gravity feed it, etc. This is important. Help.

-- James (, February 21, 1999


James--Go out and get a newsstand copy of Mother Earth News, look toward the back in their bookstore section. They have plans for a solar and/or wood heat hot water heater and how to plumb it. Might be available through their web if they have one. I know TMEN went downhill rapidly after Ray and Marta sold it in the 80's but they still have some good information available. Good Luck


-- Lobo (, February 21, 1999.

Solar showres for summer, large pot on whatever you're heating with, not long term solution but if medical emergency consider exploring having a plug for your generator put on your exsisting hot water tank.

We have oil hydroheat system should cost about 150$ max guy says should heat the whole tank in 10-15 minutes. Of course with no water pressure, you'll have to haul it but nothing is perfect. Can also get the hot water tanks or tankless hot water systems that run on propane but will have to elevate enough to get some pressure to work.

Examine how much you really need and what for.


-- EC (, February 21, 1999.

There are a great many 'solutions' ranging in cost from zero to several thousands dollars. It really depends upon how much hot water you will need, your desired level of preparedness, your location and available resources, and how handy you are with basic hand tools.

For example, our hot water heater runs on propane. It uses electricity to run an exhaust fan since it vents out the side of the house. The safety interlock shuts of the gas if electricity is not available to run the exhaust fan. For short term outages - a day or two, we can simply heat water in large pots on the stove. We can also run it off the generator but will only do this if we are refilling our water reserves - maybe once a week. Should longer term disruptions occur, fuel for the generator will simply be way too precious to waste it attempting to live a 'normal' life style.

For longer term hot water, there are options ranging from wood-fired water heaters/tanks (e.g. see to solar powered turnkey systems (e.g. .htm. If you are handy, you can find plans and build such a unit yourself. Also, Backwoods Home magazine is a good source of information. In Issue #43 (1997) there was an article on getting started with solar water heating. This article is NOT online but can be ordered from them. Finally, the U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook/st 31-91B contains plans for a simple woodfired hot water heater/shower made out of 55-gallon drums.

This is only a start -- an entrie book could probably be written on the subject.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, February 21, 1999.

With a little concrete, a 5 gal METAL pail, and a 2+/- gal pail, you can convert a gas water heater to a wood one, as long as you have true chimney/stove-pipe external venting. Building the fire box and resetting the tank on the box is the toughest part, after the chimney/venting.

Chuck da Night Driver

(This is from a very old TMEN ca 1985+/-

-- Chuck, night driver (, February 22, 1999.

While I have designed an incredibly efficient solar water heater, which is not very expensive to build, I have no way of putting drawings on line. In the future, I hope to be able to share this info. For now, let me suggest a very simple, cheap alternative. Buy a one hundred or three hundred foot long roll of 1" diameter black poly pipe. Lay it out in the sun. Hook up one end of it to the hot water side of a regular shower valve, the other end to a supply of water. Hook up the cold side of the shower valve to the same water supply. Make sure the cold water pipe doesn't get hot, too--keep it shaded. The black pipe will heat piping hot in VERY short order. You need the shower valve so you can mix the hot and cold together, or the water will be too hot to shower in on a warm sunny day. This works well in the summer, on sunny days. It won't work when it's not sunny, and would also probably freeze if left full of water on a very cold day. On cold days, heat water on your wood stove.

This is one of the cheapest, easiest systems. You can also just put a spray nozzle on your garden variety water hose. They heat up fairly rapidly, too.

I'm just doing the math in my head, but I think you should get about four gallons of water per hundred feet of one inch pipe. Try it!

My "real" solar water heater has a storage tank, and will therefore keep water hot for a couple of days and nights. So you don't have to take your showers during the day, if you don't want to.

-- jumpoffjoe (, June 22, 1999.

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