Solar Water Heater – Passive – Build/Install Breadbox

Solar water heater – Passive breadbox – build and install. Preheats water before the water goes to the regular water heater. Plans/design by Jeff Tiller. No pumps or moving parts other than valves and shutters. In the event of leaks or freezes in the solar water heater, the solar system can be bypassed and just use the regular system to heat water. There was no eligible tax refund for this system in the state of Georgia in 2012. Only federal refund of 30% as shown in the video which was nice.

No claim on the temp of the water as I only have a thermometer that reads air temp in the box and the tanks were painted with ‘solar’ paint to help keep the heat in the tanks. Air temp in the box routinely (April – October) goes to 140 degrees on sunny days, especially when sunny between 10 – 2 o’clock.

Since two tanks in the box, there is more hot water than a single 40 gallon tank, but just not as high a temperature. This works well with a 50 gallon Jacuzzi. There is a goodly amount of hot water available on sunny days. This can be seen in that the box starting out at 140 degrees or more before the bath is still above 100 degrees after a 50 gallon plus jacuzzi bath.
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20 thoughts on “Solar Water Heater – Passive – Build/Install Breadbox”

  1. Jim, I've been watching your vids and loving them. My company is launching 2nd Q of 2018 and we are looking to collaborate with someone with your skills.
    We are creating a global brand and coming to market with well designed "sustainable" systems in the food, water and energy sectors. We are franchising the company to bring these systems (like the ones your build) to the mass market. We've very serious about making a big difference. Please email me or call jimpgale(at) or 651 329 2151

  2. i worked under Jeff Tiller at Southface Energy Institute, in Atlanta, in the early1990's. Had the privilege of passing this book out at home shows in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. Thanks for the excellent video.

  3. yes that's how I should said it remove heat tape closed box between the two which would draw warm air from home in freezing conditions. just a idea. I live in Ky I could drain in the winter just worried about freezing. I was looking at a coil system but I really like this better a lot more volume. maybe I could use thermosiphon with wood stove in the winter.

  4. awesome detailed video. 1. would fabricating a removable insutated box around exposed lines from house to the bread box help?
    2. Do you have the elements (on) the tank inside your home?
    3. Approximately the outside winter temps in your area on average?
    thank you so much.

  5. Hi Jim, thank you for the detailed comments. They are very helpful to understand how to replicate what you have. One question: In another similar video I watched, the fabricator painted the inside surfaces of the box the same flat black paint that is on the tanks instead of using the reflective material you used. Any thoughts on that ? Is this addressed in the book you recommend ? Thanks again !

  6. Thanks for posting this. I have two questions. Why didn't you paint the box black and get more heat on it from the sun AND why use reflective tape on the pipe instead of again using black to absorb?


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