Grit Blogs > Another Kind of Drew

Outdoor Solar Shower: Nothing Between Me and the Sun but a Smile – Part 3

A photo of Drew OdomThe location of the shower stall is within 6 feet of the actual well source that feeds the sink in the shop as well as our garden hose. However, there are two right angle curves that had to be takem into account as well as a split so that the shower could run without disrupting our garden watering system. The hot water then had to be fed into the hose so it could sit and heat and be ready to flow on command.

Water in and outSo, the breakdown is this. Water comes up from the well and feeds into a smaller PVC pipe taking a break at a 'T' split (which is buried now and can't be seen) to run in one direction for the shower and in another for the garden irrigation and shop indoor sink. Now, if you follow the water through the 'T' and around the corner of the shop (still buried underground) you will see a PVC pipe coming up, splitting at another 'T' (this is where the cold water feeds into the shower system), and still continuing to travel upwards to feed into the black polypipe where it then completes the water circuit after traveling through almost 200 ft. of heated, black, poly-goodness. At that point, the person in the shower only needs to use the hot and cold handles as they would an indoor shower and they can mix appropriately what they would like for their shower.

PVC running up the wall of the shop

All products used in the shower must be 100% biodegradable as they drain through the shower drain in the floor, travel through a PVC pipe, angling slightly down (and underground, mind you) 8 ft. away to the edge of the garden where it drains and allows for root system irrigation.

Once all the PVC was in place and the pipe connections were solid we went about putting the corrugated metal into place and screwing it in using self tapping metal screws. We used 6 sheets total to wrap both the stall and the dressing area. The door leading into the dressing area was built using leftover white oak planks from an abandoned barn. It closes using a traditional screen porch hinge (yes, the cheap wire kind...not the expensive built in hinges) and locks with an inexpensive bolt lock. All hardware was coincidentally found in trash pile within the city limits on a one day outing.

Inside the shower stall

Inside the dressing area we built a small bench to either sit on or prop your foot up on when drying off. We then put up about 5 hooks for hanging clothes, towels, etc. And we created the shower curtain out of a standard tarp from the hardware store with a few grommet holes for the shower curtain rings.

All in all, it is a pretty basic shower system with great functionality and a lot of personality.

If you have any specific questions feel free to email me or view the entire Flickr set. Well ... smell you later!

6/17/2010 2:19:46 PM

hahahaha. I think I am done for a while MountainWoman! hahahahah

mountain woman
6/17/2010 1:52:51 PM

Wow, the finished product is fancy and really spacious as well. I read in Mother Earth News this month about building your own hot tub. Perhaps that might be a good accompaniment to your shower?

6/17/2010 9:34:43 AM

Hey there Dave. The polytube is 1/2" .620 OD Poly Tubing. I have tested the shower multiple times. The hot water after 11am (on a sunny day) gives 13 minutes of hot water (and I do mean hot). If you mix it with cold you can get about 3 people showered before it goes cold. The recovery time is about 2 hours for a full recovery. Now, the sun is direct on the shop from about 8:30am to 12pm. So afternoon the heat in the tubing is residual. Now, if you are like me, working outside midday or even afternoon, the last thing you want it scalding hot water. In fact, I have hardly touched the hot water handle. I'll keep you posted!

nebraska dave
6/17/2010 7:42:11 AM

Drew, you have had great progress on building the shower. What size is you tube on the roof top? Have you tested the shower yet? I’m just curious about how long the hot water lasts and what would be the recovery time for the water to heat up in the tube? These are probably questions that aren’t answerable just yet. If you are like me, the project is a work in progress and answers come as the project gets completed. I’m always impressed with your quality construction methods and cost containment procedures. It is always a good thing to use what is available for improvements. I try to use either what’s been given to me or what I have left from other projects before taking a ride to the home improvement store. It appears that you kind of do the same. You and I have very similar interests in practical projects. I hope you enjoy many years of showering with your solar heated shower.