GE Ecomagination: DIY Solar Water Heater

Eco-innovators from all over the world have been rising to the GE Ecomagination Challenge, which this year seeks to power the homes of the future. Among them is Debesh Raj Bhattarai, General Secretary for the Society of Nepalese Architects, who hails from Baneswor, Kathmandu.

Bhattarai’s entry in the competition is a simple passive solar hot water system based around a commodity that can be found cheaply almost anywhere–a basic plastic barrel–used in conjunction with an innovative HDPE solar heat absorber.

DIY Solar Heater

image via Debesh Raj Bhattarai

This heat absorber is, essentially, a large coil of black plastic tubing, connected on both ends to the plastic barrel, which is set at an elevation above it. As water is heated within the coil during the heat of the day, it rises, forcing cooler water from the other end of the tube to refill it.

According to Bhattarai, this entire do-it-yourself solar hot water system can be constructed for around $70, putting it within the reach of many around the world currently doing without hot water at home.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.


  • Reply February 25, 2011


    Majority of the world population are poor,I really liked the passion of you few good people, who can make a better living conditions in the world through these little innovation… oh my god… Cheers

    • Reply May 13, 2011

      Selene McGraw

      I agree, Prassana! At least with a solar-powered heater, people can afford to have a running hot water in their plumbing without spending too much on electricity. Mind you though that you should check your plumbing, steam traps, pipes, and the water tank itself, to get the most out of your heater. Wasting good water is bad, after all.

  • Reply May 13, 2011

    Mr. Valdez


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