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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My dad and I have been making a solar heated water trough for my horses. Finally finished her up the day before the Polar Vortex came to visit. I tested it one day without the tank heater and it didn't freeze over, although there was a slight partial skim of ice on about a 1/4 of the drinking surface. I'm doing a test today with no heater and taking the temp periodically.

In the meantime I wanted to post directions:

The original instructions: http://www.motherearthnews.com/.../solar-stock-tank...

We basically took those directions and beefed it WAY up. After putting the frame together we glued all edges/joints to prevent air from getting in/out. Anywhere there was an edge we glued. There are 3 layers of 2" insulating foam on the bottom, back, sides, and part of the front. We built that from the outisde in, careful to space the joints/edges in such a manner that air wouldn't have a straight path in or out. We made a recessed pocket/ledge for the glass panel as well.

The front of the tank was painted black and the solar panel is recessed (approx 3")double glass with a horse panel screwed over the top to prevent injuries. Again, after the glass panel was placed we used silicon seal to fill the edges to prevent air leakage. The wood panels on the front were added because the tank doesn't extend the whole length of the glass and we figured that decreasing the amount of glass out there was a good idea.

We dropped in a plywood bottom on top of the bottom foam layers and then a layer of coated vinyl in case there were any leaks. After the tank was put in there was another 2 layers of insulated foam board put on the back to wedge it into place. Everything was painted (except those front blocking panels right now) and there was grout/silicon/spray foam insulation put anywhere air could find a path through (corners or ends of the foam).

The top has 2" of insulating foam board under the plywood. A big issue with other solar tanks seems to be the air getting under the cover and cooling the water, so we decided to drop a neoprene tube down from the drinking hole to 2" from the bottom. This effectively seals the warm air away from the cold air, but allows the drinking tube to refill easily. We have some kinks to work out, but overall I'm pleased. If it stays open during this weather it'll handle regular winter.

We are going to seal the top better, paint it all black, and probably drop a 2" foam board on top of the water (so it will float down/up with the water) to finish it off.

Sorry the directions aren't more detailed. My dad is a fabricator/creator type and once we had the general idea we ran with it using what we know of air/heat flow.

Let me know if there are any questions and I will answer them to the best of my ability. I'll take temp readings throughout the day to see what we're working with while we have the unfinished top.

Outside, pre drinking hole:


Inside:


Drinking hole:
 

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Want One!!
I've been wanting to make one of these too. Did you use glass or plexi glass under the horse panel?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It is glass, double thickness glass, I am totally spacing on what it is called. That's why I have the horse panel over the front. I figure if someone kicks, it will flex and probably break the glass, BUT their hoof won't go through it. Glass has the best solar conductivity so that's why we used it.
 

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It is glass, double thickness glass, I am totally spacing on what it is called. That's why I have the horse panel over the front. I figure if someone kicks, it will flex and probably break the glass, BUT their hoof won't go through it. Glass has the best solar conductivity so that's why we used it.
Not judging at all. :D
Just wondering because I have some old windows I could use for this project, but am considering buying plexi glass or clear corrugated roofing material because I'm a ninny and know my goober's habit of pawing.
Wonder if the actual clear material will make much difference in a non polar vortex situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you look at the link they basically used the plastic clear corrugated roofing stuff I think. It transmits less energy, but is still effective I believe. We were going to use an old window at first, but we did some tradework at the shop and got list glass piece for "free." I would think as long as you really insulate it well it shouldn't make a huge difference in normal winter temps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok, this morning the water was 53 degF and it had a tank heater in overnight. At 11am we were at 51 deg F with no heater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We were at -12 this morning (pre-windchill) and -2 right now (-13 windchill), that's according to the weather app. Our outside thermometer said -20 this morning and -15 right now, so somewhere in the general area of those two. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Right now we're at 52.3 deg F so it actually warmed up a bit. Temps are 2 with a real feel of -10 per the phone app. Outside thermometer reads -10
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
52.5 deg F, same type of temperatures.

I'm going to be brave and leave it out overnight to see how well it retains without the sun. We're getting down to -16 tonight so it'll be a good test.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Alright, it got down to 38.3 deg F. Our temps where -17 deg F pre-windchill, so like -27 or so with the windchill from what I can extrapolate from the neighboring areas with similar winds. Another sunny day today, so we'll get to see how well it warms up!

Overall I'm pretty pleased, some mods should make it even better, along with sealing the top all of the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm sorry, I was going to post how well it warmed up today, unfortunately my BRAND FREAKING NEW $12 THERMOMETER broke. I literally just bought it for this purpose Monday? Rawrness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Alright, a new battery is in the thermometer. Last night it was at 52, this morning it was 42, I filled the trough and it was still at 42. I'm going to be testing over the next several days to see how well it warms up during the day without using the heater at all. We're supposed to be in the 20-30 F range for temps, so not the extreme stuff. Frankly, I'm ok with using a heater a couple nights a year when it's nasty cold out, I'd just rather not have to use it 24 hours for 4-5 months and at night for another 2 months..
 
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