Where do i find used solar-thermal collectors?
January 23, 2011 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm building a system to heat a hot tub in Minneapolis, MN. I'm pretty handy, have worked as a solar installer (though mostly photovoltaic), have a good sense of how the system will work, have acquired the hot tub itself, and now all I need is the solar collector.

All of the literature on this type of project that I've found, both online and in print, tends to address the problem of acquiring a collector on the cheap with a dismissive suggestion that solar thermal collectors haven't changed much since the 1970s when they were a big fad, and that I should have no problem finding someone in my area with some old collectors gathering dust in the garage.

This suggestion, however, is proving to be grossly inaccurate. I can't find a used solar thermal collector to save my life. I keep thinking that there must be some network of geeky solar people who trade this kind of info, but I can't find that either. If anyone has any suggestions -- either specific to the Twin Cities (or anywhere in the upper midwest), or general -- about how to locate the appropriate kind of salvage yard, what kind of people involved in what kinds of activities I might want to contact, etc, I would be grateful.

Needless to say, I can purchase a new collector for somewhere in the range of $400 - $1000 US, but the whole point here is to muscle some luxury into the backyard without spending a whole paycheck.
posted by milkman to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Instructables is a good place for things like this. For example.
posted by galadriel at 11:08 AM on January 23, 2011

Not being in your area I would suggest also contacting roofers as homeowners abandoning systems often have them for the asking and need them gone at the time of re-roofing.

Also in my area there are subdivisions that were built during the "first" solar hot water tax credit in the 80's. By now most of the systems in these subdivisions are abandoned, and post carding (snail mail) homes with old systems on the roof would likely score some sort of collector for the removing and patching of mounting holes. Ymmv.

And no the collectors have not changed at all for the most part.
PS: In Minnesota I would do a "drainback" type solar spa heater. my 2c.
posted by blink_left at 1:36 PM on January 23, 2011

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