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Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1982 ideas

DIY Solar hot air panel

We found a fantastic blog with money-saving, energy-saving tips and projects: There are many easy projects there. The one that brought us to that site is not for beginners, but was fascinating enough that I thought I would share.

We are about to leave the season when our airtight woodstove saves us money and will soon be entering the summer with its high cooling bills. While we have window screens, screen doors, and fans and we have optimized things inside for a life without air conditioning, if necessary, we still have A/C for very hot days. My husband ran across this idea in's  forums. - groundwater precooling for any air conditioner.

I have been thinking of doing this with my open loop GT heat pumps (precooling return air with water) for summer AC
My well water temp is about 60F and I can get a real cheap evaporator (that doesn't leak) to put before existing GT heat pump air coil.
When the unit is on, it uses ~ 5 gallons per minute (~ 40 L/min). Easy to plumb the water exiting this precooler to then go to the GT heat pump input. I bet the water temp is now a few degrees higher, which means a lowering of the EER.
Clearly, I am not going to get any latent water removal, but it should pre-cool the return air. Return air is about 80 F or so.
Do you think the time/trouble is worth it? Or am I trading just one efficiency for another . . . .?
Thanks . . .


(Answer) You could run both coils in tandem off of your well pump. Then both the heat pump and the pre-cool exchangers would see the same source temperature. Some fiddling might be needed to balance the flows, but imho it would be worth it. Don't underestimate the power of 60 degree water to yank lots of latent humidity (and sensible heat) out of the return air.

If you felt daring, you could rig up a control that would adjust the flow automatically. As your heat pump ramps up, the pre-coil could do more gpm. At a certain setpoint of discharge water, the control could feed more water to the heat pump, increasing heat flow and COP.

Just running source water through the pre-cool coil while the heat pump isn't running (at reduced cfm) could also save energy. Unless your source water is very close to return air temp, then all bets are off. But knocking 5 degrees per pass off of your return air for the cost of a water pump and a blower running on low could prove to be very economical.

This is possible for us because we have a well. We have to size for the airflow, and the water flow, and the temperature differential. My husband is a controls technician and has the engineering background to do this. Our main up-front expense will be a coil. There's the issue of what to do with the resulting water flow, but we were planning on putting in an irrigation system anyhow, so this will make it cost-effective. Plants will need more water hot hotter days anyhow.

Christopher H's picture
Christopher H
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 29 2009
Posts: 148
Thanks for the resource, Wendy!

Definitely have to take some time to sift through the articles on their site!

lambertad's picture
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 31 2013
Posts: 171

I'm not sure if you are familiar with, but it is one of the best sites out there for DIY solar projects. They have dozens of novice scientific comparisons of different designs, and overall it is just a wealth of information. From solar hot water, to solar space hot air, to solar photovoltaic, check it out if you haven't ever been to the website.




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Joined: Mar 16 2015
Posts: 1
How To Take Care Your Skin

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Posts: 1
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