Over on BuildItSolar.com they have been experimenting with a new and much cheaper design for solar hot water collectors. The idea is to use PEX tubing with aluminum absorption plates instead of the traditional all copper design. With copper at such high prices these days this design provides a substancial cut in cost. This is not to mention its pretty darn easy to make yourself. How does the tune of around $150 for a 4′x8′ collector sound? Thats about 1/5 the price of a commercial collector!
Of course, there is a down side. The collectors efficiency is not quite on par with its copper cousin. The PEX collector operates at roughly 85% efficiency compared to the copper unit. Not a huge hit there, but there are also questions about the ability of the PEX to hold up to prolonged exposure to sunlight and stagnation temperatures (when water isn’t going through the collector). I guess time will tell.
In the mean time, check it out and let us know what you think here or discuss it on the forum.
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