Disclaimer: I assume no liability for what you may see on this page. In the same way that some people should never have any sharp objects, I do not advocate or encourage doing anything shown on this page. With that said, proceed at your own risk and enjoy the show!


The Challenge:

  • From scratch, design a stand-alone solar shower.
  • Make sure there is a readily available parts base in case of a failure.
  • Since I am my own warranty, simplicity and customer support are mandatory!
  • Should be relatively easy to move from site-to-site.
  • Must fit in with the rest of this craziness.
  • Finally, it has to be affordable.

This started out as a somewhat easy task but without an unlimited budget, and trying to use as many retired parts as possible, this was definitely a challenge!

Most all of the materials used, including the decorative metal trimwork, was made from discarded items. Once the shower was assembled and functional, it was stained brown and trimmed with Midas Gold colored paint.  Below are some photos of the finished product.

Stand alone solar shower front view Stand alone solar shower front corner view Stand alone solar shower entry side view

How does it work?

It is a very simple concept. As long as you can get water into the system and have it filled so it runs out of the tank's overflow tube - you're all set! Once the sun comes out, it heats the water in all the lines and the heat travels to the uppermost part of the water tank (heat rises). At the same time, the cold water is traveling through the lines downward away from the tank to the lower part of the system (cold falls). This action caused by the sun's heat is called thermosiphon. No electricity is needed and as long as the sun is out, the water will heat and circulate through the system. Usually in about 3-4 hours on a sunny day the 22 gallon tank will reach temperatures of around 160 degrees or more! Most times it is necessary to also use cold water to prevent scalding the skin when in the shower. Depending on the weather here in northern NY, this outdoor solar shower can be used from April 15th or so all the way through about October 7th. For the freezing weather, the system is easily drained to prevent ice buildup in the system that could damage the lines or the tank.

Stand alone solar shower operation schematic

For those of us that are off-grid, it's fantastic! Heating water uses plenty of energy so why not let that big ball of fire in the sky do it for you?! Also, by keeping hot, steamy water vapor out of the house during the warmer summer months, it doesn't add to the temperature or humidity inside the house and that's a win-win!! I highly recommend the addition of a solar shower to your list of projects - you'll love it!!!

Other items of interest at CrazyJerry's Off-Grid Extravaganza: