How to Build a Solar-Powered Water Purifier

Part of the Solar Power Your Home For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Using the sun to purify drinking water is a great solar project for the do-it-yourselfer. A solar-powered purification system the size of a microwave oven can yield up to 3 gallons of purified drinking water on a sunny day.

Here’s what you need for a basic solar powered water purifier like the one shown in the figure:

Wooden or sheet metal enclosure Reflective material like aluminum foil
Black paint, used for barbeque pits Sheet of glass
Insulation (the white foam kind is fine) Glue (silicon sealant or similar weather-resistant material)
Black tray that can absorb heat Catch trough and container for purified water
A cross-section of a water purification system.
A cross-section of a water purification system.

To assemble your solar-powered water purifier, find a place near a water source (for easy filling) and follow these steps:

  1. Paint the exterior of the wooden or sheet metal enclosure black to enhance absorption.

  2. Install the reflective surface at the back and side walls of the enclosure and glue the insulation to the bottom.

  3. Put a tray of contaminated water inside the enclosure and place the glass on top.

  4. Arrange the catch trough at the bottom of the glass, angled downward to a container (like a plastic jug) to collect the purified water.

  5. Aim the contraption toward the sun.

    That’s it — you’re done!

The first few times you use this device, the water may taste a little odd. Let the system “sweat” for a few weeks, and the bad taste will go away.

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