Serpentine Drainback Solar Space Heating Project and Design Manual

Tim, Doug, and Will provide a very detailed description of a unique solar space heating system along with quite a bit of design information.

The system uses solar to heat water, which is in turn used for space heating in a radiant floor system. One of the most unique features of the system is that the drain back solar collector uses serpentine path absorbers rather than the usual vertical riser tubes. This arrangement allows the entire south face of the building to be used as a collector, right up to the peak of the roof. In addition to providing more collector area and more heat, it has a very nice look.

DIY serpentine drainback solar water heating project

This is more than a detailed project description -- it is essentially written as a design manual for a large serpentine drainback system.

Thanks very much to Tim, Doug and Will for documenting the project so well!

Some Highlights:

Full download just below.

Some of the unique features of this project:


Serpentine Drain Back Collector


installing the serpentine absorber


Full Glazed Wall

In addition to offering an alternative way to plumb a drain back system, the serpentine setup allows the collector to go all the way up to the peak of the roof, which provide more collection area and offers the unique and very nice look of a fully glazed face on the house.

full glazed wall collector


Partitioned Tank

The tank in this system is partitioned into a cooler section that is used to feed the collector and a warmer section that is used to feed the radiant floor. This may improve the system efficiency.

partitioned tank for solar collector



The full download is a 36 page pdf with lots of design and build detail for the entire system-- Serpentine Drain Back Solar Space Heating System Manual...

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