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Solar-Heated Outdoor Shower

A frigid outdoor shower gets the heat with a solar water-heating system.

Materials and Tools:

redwood order (1)
2x6 lumber (10-ft. lengths; 10)
pier blocks (6)
4x4 lumber (8-ft. lengths; 6)
2x4 lumber (8-ft. lengths; 8)
50' black hose (2)
shower head
connection to head from hose
hose splitter
hose clamps (1 box)
stainless steel nails or screws

air compressor with hoses
finish nailer
framing nailer
circular saw
table saw
power miter box
cordless drill with battery and magnetic screw tip
hack saw
measuring tape
safety glasses

The beachfront home in this Don't Sweat It project has an outdoor shower, but it gets little use because it only has cold water. Steve and his crew build a new shower and install a solar water-heating system.


Drainage: Check your local building codes to determine if the outdoor shower can simply drain into ground or must drain through house's plumbing.

Building the deck. We began the shower project by building a deck extension onto the existing deck. Start by setting your pier blocks where the posts will be. (We used six posts.) The posts (figure A) run from the pier block, thru the deck, and extend up to form the stabilizing posts for the privacy fence.

Once the posts are in, frame around the posts using 2x6's and secure the planks to form the deck floor (figure B). Attach to the existing deck and to the posts.

Building the fence. Using 2x4s, attach a rail between the posts at 24" and 50" from the ground. These will be the supports for the redwood slats. Cut 48" lengths of the redwood slats using the power miter saw. Attach the slats using stainless steel hardware.

A note about working with redwood: The oil in redwood will corrode steel and aluminum nails, leaving stains and decay. It's critical to use stainless steel hardware when building with redwood.

Green Tip: Passive Solar Roof for Heating an Outdoor Shower For this project, we opted to install a solar roof to collect heat and warm the water for the shower. Outdoor showers can be very inefficient since heating water over long stretches of pipe outdoors can result in heat loss, and ultimately add to your utility expenses. By sending only cold water to the shower, then heating it naturally with a solar-roof water heater, you can save energy and money.

Roof frame. Build a frame of 2x4s with ceiling joists at 16" on center. Drill holes six inches apart along the length of each joist.

Coil tubing. Feed and coil the black hose through the holes you just drilled, working your way from one end of the roof frame to the other (figure C), and making a loop from the water supply to the shower head. To hook everything up, use the existing hose bib, put on the splitter and run the hose from the hose bib to the solar coil. Hook the other end of the solar coil to the shower head.

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