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Solar Heating Panels



Shipping Costs   Trickle-Down vs. Pipe-and-Plate   Kits   Book

Cheap DIY Instructions   Reviewings of Products


To Begin With, Consider Shipping Costs

While you are comparing solar collectors or other gadgets, know that some of the components can be heavy. Heavy means expensive to be shipped.

If you are not planning to do the labor yourself, you may do well to have a local builder put a collector together for you, made from as many local materials as can be well gotten. Then your shipping cost will be lowered.


Trickle-Down, Versus Pipe-And-Plate Solar Efficiency

Trickle-down is simpler. No pipes. The price, installed is half to a third of pipe-and-plate collectors.

Here are some ideas from William H. Shurcliff. First I'll tell about the pipe-and-plate collectors, next about the trickle-down solar collectors.

In some cases the pipe version might be more suitable. One example would be in a spot where the air is truly cold, yet the temerature, of the water in the tank, must be kept high.

Some designers have found ways to avoid the followin hardships or risks. Therefore, individual products must be compared, and the cost of shipping, assemblin, and installin, versus the efficiency measured in terms of money saved, or other gains, such as clean surroundins.

Nevertheless, the more complex system, using pipes, means more risk of problems.

Pipes must be of copper, if they are not to corrode in 10-15 years. Copper can be expensive, the cost has been risin.

To avoid stress from possible overpressure, the copper must be thick, hence more expensive. Gizmos may be needed to keep the pressure down. Gizmos cost.

Wherever pipes are joined, there is a place where pressure could cause scathe. Many such joints are needed in the piped version. If a leak would come, the pipes are truly hard to be reached, by the man who would fix the leaks.

If fins, called "absorbers", would be added for more efficiency, then the joints and metals of the fin might expand at a different rate from the pipe itself, which would jeopard the integrity of the works.

Dirt might clog a pipe. The clogging might be unnoticed for a lon time. Less heat would be then gotten. It would be hard to unclog the pipe.

Pipes could freeze and become split. Drain-down would forestall it. Air or nitrogen must be put into the pipe, and the drain-down could be foiled by airlock in the pipe, or if any dirt is in the pipe. Air might hasten any rustin in the pipe.

If anything stopped the drain-down, then the liquid might freeze, and cause damage to the pipes. Anti-freeze could prevent this, but, of course it is poisonous, and must be dealt with carefully. It must be kept out of the main water system.

Anti-freeze leaks easily. If the temperature gets too high in the pipes, it becomes denatured. Therefore it must be checked from time to time. Also it is costly. Any leak, and it would have to be replaced. If, somehow, it ever got diluted, then the pipes might freeze and burst.

I am going to skip over a few of the points. Next Mr. Shurcliff states that the panels are heavier than are the trickle-down panels. Hoists might be needed in lieu of hand-carrying.

Silicone oil could be used instead of anti-freeze, but there are specific problems in using it. It is expensive.

Without anti-freeze, or silicone oil, the pipes could get too hot, and burst.

Installation of the pipe-version requires careful pipefitting. That increases the cost of installation.

Now I'll tell you about the trickle-down system. With only a single pane of glass, heat is lost into the air.

Folks were afraid that evaporation of the water would lower the temperature inside the collector. However, with continuous sunshine, the air in the collector stays saturated with vapor, so there is no loss of heat in the way that they feared, after the startup of the day's operation.

When the day is a sunny one, the water is goosed into action by a pump. It trickles down a corrugated sheet of aluminum, which is painted black, to absorb the heat from the sun. The water gets warm or hot, and falls into the buildin, where it is managed to hold the heat for the purpose you want it for.

What is good about the system, it has not so many pipes, only one at the top. Almost no expensive copper is used.

There is no danger from seals, overpressure, airlock, chemicals such as anti-freeze, or from blockage.

It needn't be drained down. Just shut off the pump.

It is truly much easier to inspect for dirt, or to fix anythin inside the collector, than would be the case with pipes.

It is much lighter to lift up and install, without special gear.

It doesn't take a specialist to build one. Harry do-it-yourself homeowner can do it with amateur skills.

You don't need a heat-exchanger.


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MTD Solar Collector Kits -- Modified Trickle-Down

These are made from mostly local gettable materials, so there is not a hekavalotta shippin to be paid.

The O'Clock is prettily late right now, so I am goin to give to you only the title and the price of each kit, and I'll come back in a few days to give to you the details.

MTD Starter Kit $49 + $15 shippin and handlin in USA, or $25 shippin and handlin internationally.

MTD Standard Kit USA only $90 + $15 shippin and handlin.

MTD Deluxe Kit USA only $160 + $29 shippin and handlin.


Copper Pipes And 2 x 4's

Simple instructions, you supply the measurements:

This article begins with the same lore, but more verbosely, then adds more lore:


Get You A Book On Solar Heating Panels!

Many folks try to search online, to build their own heating solar panels. However, to me there is nothing better than a good book that has both photos, and diagrams.

This book, "The Solar House", is well reviewed. You can see the reviews, when you click on the image. You will be taken to a new page, that looks a bit like the illustration, on your right:

Click Book Cover Of "The Solar House" Passive Solar Guidebook Book Review Web's Page


DIY Small Cheap Solar Heating Panel


Reviewings of Products

A.O. Smith Cirrex Solar Water Heater

Apricus Solar Collector


A. O. Smith Water Heaters -- Cirrex

This company makes water heaters basically, not only solar but gas and electrical ones. I could not find satisfactory reviewings for their solar system which is branded "Cirrex", but found many reviewins for the heaters as a whole.

Not for a fact, but it looks as though they said, "migh's well have a solar product too, Steve you go out and find some solar panels we can couple up with our tanks", and Steve says, "Right, boss" and tries to get 'er done in time for dinner.

Kind of casually, I imagine. As their reviewings seem to show a rather careless attitude toward production I would expect the same attitude to be shown in their solar product as well. I talked to one of their men on the phone, and he didn't seem to be too eager to do anything about the low state of their reported customer satisfaction. Just casual, you know.

I'll show, to you summaries, of last 10 reviewings out of 264, plus some others. From 152 rated reviewings, the average rating of the company was about 1.5 of 5. In the last 10 reviewings, the average was slightly up at 1.7 of 5 stars. I have interpreted some of the text for you.

If you want to see later reviewings, here is your link:

A. O. Smith Water Heaters Consumer Complaints & Reviews


May 5, 2014

[10 months after beginning} our water heater quit. Model GPVH 50 100. Fixers came, replaced the gas valve and the pressure switch. One week later it quit again. We now await the coming of the serviceman. I'm demanding that our builder (Drees Homes) replace this unit (we are within our one year warranty) and quit from putting in this kind of water heater in their new homes.


April 29, 2014

Ours was a little over 4 years old when the thermocouple went out. Unlike most water heaters where you can buy a new one at the hardware store and install it yourself, this one had to be special ordered! It took about a week to get it. What should be a $10 part and a DIY job cost me $184 in labor. Fast forward just 3 months later and it started leaking. It developed a leak after only 4 1/2 years! Yes, it is under warranty, but it's costing me almost $300 in labor to install another one. Unfortunately I'm stuck with A.O. Smith. In under 5 years this water heater cost me $500.


April 24, 2014

I haven't seen anyone else with the same problem I have, so here goes. My water heater works fine - as long as you keep using it. When you use hot water, the tank fills, the burners kick on, the water heats. But that's where it stops. The water heater never kicks on again to maintain the temperature of the water. If the heater does not cycle within a few hours of me needing hot water, I'm out of luck. If I go on vacation I have to run the hot water until the water heater kicks on, then wait until the water heats up, to take a shower. This does make for a very efficient water heater.

My model is an AO Smith Promax FCG 50 248. My solution now is when I am done with my shower I switch the unit heat setting to 'A', then about a half hour before I need hot water I switch the setting to 'B' to initiate the water heat up so I can bathe. If there is some easy and cheap solution to this problem I'd love to hear it. In the meantime I will continue my little hot water waltz. Still better than heating water on a wood stove. Yet not an ideal situation.


April 17, 2014

I had house re-piped about 10 years ago and for the last 5 years I have had these black particles in my hot water, of course no longer under warranty (6 years). The company came and installed a new rod in my tank and we didn't notice it for a while, however it came back.

It's not present all the time but when it is I can draw a cup of water and sit it on the counter and within minutes this black stuff is floating at top of cup. And when you pour it out, it leaves a ring around the cup that has to be wash good with soap to remove the stain, it's like a rubbery sticky feeling. Can anyone help me to determine what the problem is.


March 24, 2014

A.O. Smith water heater replaced a Rheem heater 13 months ago and now the new water heater is leaking. A.O. Smith will not warranty or HELP in any way because of their replacement policy. They will not stand behind their product in any way. NOT a good recommendation of their product or company. Their own website lists under their "values" is making money! Easy to do if you don't stand behind your product and warranty!


March 24, 2014

I purchased a AO Smith 40 gal LP heater in Jan 2014. The next day, it ceased functioning. Over the next 10 days, I spent almost $1000 to get this heater working for my tenants.

Since the service contractor for AO Smith was not available to do the repair (he was on vacation), they took the opportunity to hang the cost of the repairs on me. Repeated calls to the tech dept., warranty dept., and corporate communication dept. were to no avail.

They would only cover $75 "as a courtesy" and otherwise completely put up a brick wall. They would not address any of the issues surrounding the efforts it took to get this junker running. This is the most blatantly dishonest and crooked company I have ever dealt with, and I have been a general contractor for 20 years!


March 12, 2014

I have had an AO Smith gas water heater - res. unit & cannot keep it lit. At least 1x day I have to spend up to 30 min. trying to get the pilot to stay on, then get the main flame on & stay on! The installer told me after the install, "Oh yeah, these have a reputation for this type of issue." I will never buy another.


March 12, 2014

I purchased a new AO Smith ProMax GSV50100 50-gallon water heater about two or three years ago. After about one year, the pilot light would just go out for no apparent reason. I contacted AO Smith who stated, as they have told so many others, "That's your problem, we're not covering it under warranty."

So I did some research and asked around and found out it was a common problem which AO Smith blamed on everyone but themselves. I vacuumed out the area where the air intake for the combustion chamber is and we got about another year out of it.

It is now doing the exact same problem and the pilot light will not stay lit. I once again vacuumed out the air intake area several times but the pilot light continues to go out for no apparent reason.

With no local AO Smith service companies in my area and no support from AO Smith, I have been forced to replace the piece of junk with a more reliable gas hot water heater, such as Whirlpool or Rheem.

AO Smith offers ZERO support and refuses to honor their warranty because they refuse to accept the blame for their unit malfunctioning. This is one of the worst companies I've ever had to deal with with regard to customer support and I'm not the only person.

It should be obvious by reading others' dealing with AO Smith that I am not just a malcontent.

If you disregard our warning about dealing with this company, make sure you can count on the fact that your AO Smith unit may SAY they offer a warranty with their product but you may as well not even have one because they aren't going to acknowledge responsibilities for their products when they fail.

And what are you going to do then? Write an article like this and dish out the money for a new replacement product!


March 5, 2014

Replaced 3 100 gallon water heaters with AO Smith. First one -- problems. Called customer service, they sent replacement parts. Worked a few months then stopped.

Hours on the phone with customer service tryin to troubleshoot. Replaced fan module. Worked on and off another few months.

Something else broke. We spent lot of time to keep it working. It shut down again then customer service refused help because warranty was expired.


Feb. 27, 2014

[this was the only good reviewing of the latest 10]

Heater was installed October 2000. No problem for 13.5 years. Now a leak.


A. O. Smith Corporation is a manufacturer of both residential and commercial water heaters and boilers . It is the largest manufacturer and marketer of water heaters in North America .

The A. O. Smith Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization, founded in 1955, that has contributed nearly $35 million to qualifying charitable, educational, scientific, literary, and civic organizations located primarily in communities where A. O. Smith Corporation has facilities.


In the 2000s, A. O. Smith made a number of acquisitions, by acquiring State Industries, Inc. , and its subsidiary APCOM Inc.

Shenzhen Speeda Industrial Co. Ltd.

Athens Products , a supplier of hermetic motors for scroll compressor applications

The Changheng Group of Changzhou , China, a manufacturer of fractional horsepower motors for HVAC applications

Taicang Special Motor Company, Ltd. , of Suzhou , China

Yueyang Zhongmin Special Electrical Machinery Co. Ltd.

Lochinvar Corporation , a manufacturer of high efficiency condensing boilers for hot water and hydronic heating applications, and in 2006

GSW Inc. a water heaters manufacturer for the Canadian market

The American Water Heater Company , the exclusive supplier of water heaters to Lowe's , carrying the Whirlpool brand. In 2009, the company entered the water purification industry with a new venture.

A. O. Smith (Shanghai) Water Treatment Products Co. Ltd . In 2010, A. O. Smith opened a 76,000 square foot residential water heater manufacturing plant in Bangalore, India

Takagi Industrial Company' s North American operations. In 2011, A.O. Smith sold its electric motor business to Regal-Beloit .


Review: Apricus Solar Collector

Made In China


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