Try To Make Your Own Water Heater

How to Build a Homemade Water Heater

I will show you how to build a cheap and easy water heater to use for camping, hunting cabins, or anywhere that hot water isn’t readily available.  I have also include pictures of my finished product.  I travel a lot in my motor home and don’t like using LP Gas so I tinkered with some materials and came up with this.  All in-home water heaters use a lot of energy but the one I built uses less than 1200 watts (10 amps).   I wouldn’t recommend using this in a house unless you modify the directions as standard houses use water pressure (town water or well).  When I camp out, I take a 1500 watt power inverter and hook to my car battery to heat my water.  I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a shower tent and used cpvc to run into tent and put a valve and a shower head on and it’s ready to go.

As you can see here,  I have the modified coffee maker sitting on top of the barrel.  I drilled an extra 2 holes in the space that the coffee maker is sitting just in case the hose(s) were to leak from the element and the water will go back into barrel and not onto the ground.  Mine hasn’t leaked but it is always better to be safe than sorry.  Don’t mind all of the cpvc pipes and valves as I just put together using what parts I had at the time.  I started with using water heater for the shower, then added another line to run to the kitchen sink.

This is the picture of my float.  I just used a regular float that goes in the back of the toilet.  The only real problem I’ve had so far with this set-up is once a month I have to clean the coffee maker element.  I just disconnect the coffee maker from the barrel and poured vinegar down the hose to the element.  Coffee maker must be on to clean as the heat and acidity of vinegar cleans it.  If you don’t clean it at least once a month, the element will clog up and you will have to purchase a new coffee maker as it is really hard to get thick layers of lime and calcium out of element.

This picture shows where I drilled the 3/4” holes for my new hoses to connect to the heating element inside of the coffee maker.  My first try I actually took the coffee maker apart to hook the element up but I had nowhere to put the element so I bought another one and drilled holes and kept assembled.  I also put a small valve on the outlet line going into the barrel.  This is to control the water flow if you have a bigger sized pond/aquarium pump.  I don’t recommend using a bigger pump as with this particular valve, I have to clean the lime and calcium build-up every 2 weeks when it isn’t completely open.  I don’t have a big pump in my set-up but I had the valve laying around so I installed it just as an example.

How to Make a Water Heater

Measure and cut one hole centrally in each end of the tank or drum, so that the 150 mm pipe fits through snugly. Push the pipe right through the tank, and solder, weld or braise in place, ensuring that the joints are water-tight, so that it is flush with one end. This will be the bottom of the water heater. The pipe is the chimney.

Measure and cut a hole in the top of the water heater, into which the J-shaped pipe fits snugly, and solder, braise or weld the longer leg into it. This is the overflow/expansion/pressure release pipe, without which the heater will either not function at all, as you will not be able to pipe water into it, or will turn your water heater into a bomb that will explode with devastating consequences.

Cut one or two holes into the bottom of the tank and insert, solder, weld or braze them into place to act as inlet and outlet, or use one pipe to perform both functions, or just cut a hole in the top and pour water into the tank. You will, nevertheless, require an outlet at the bottom, onto which you should fit a tap (faucet), if you do not want the water to run out as fast as you pour it in.

Cut a rectangular hole into the bottom of the topless 300 mm high cylinder, through which you will feed fuel for your fire and via which you will remove the ash.

If you intend using this water heater indoors, cut a second, round hole in the back, opposite the rectangular hole. Affix a length of pipe of that same diameter as the chimney, to this hole.

Build a Homemade Portable Water Heater

Warm water is needed in everyone’s life. It is used to take a bathe, to wash clothes, dishes, floors, etc., but one-seventh of the people in the world do not have access to warm water. It is necessity, especially in cold climates. Warm water is also used to remove oils, germs on the skin and bacteria that could cause illnesses. If you live somewhere that hot water is no accessible, or perhaps you’re camping or roughing it at a cottage, you can build your own portable and affordable water heater.

  • PVC piping.
  • A cheap coffee maker.
  • A float from a toilet bowl.
  • A pond pump.
  • Other tubes.

A portable water heater can be used in any situation you don’t have access to warm water. Also, it’s good to be prepared for any situation.

A secondhand inner tube shouldn’t cost more than $1.50 from a tire store.

A 14-inch tube can hold around 19 quarts of water. But if you would like a smaller or greater capacity, use a 13-inch compact car size or 15-inch truck tube.

Make sure the tube is functioning well, and that it does not have holes water could leak from.

You can test it by inflating the tube and listening for the sound of air escaping.

If the tube has no holes, now, using a pair of scissors, cut a ΒΌ-inch hole about two inches from the outside edge.

Selecting a New Water Heater


When selecting the best type and model of water heater for your home, consider the following:

  • Fuel type, availability and cost. The fuel type or energy source you use for water heating will not only affect the water heater’s annual operation costs but also its size and energy efficiency. See below for more on selecting fuel types.
  • Size. To provide your household with enough hot water and to maximize efficiency, you need a properly sized water heater. Visit the pages on different types of water heaters (linked above) for more on sizing.
  • Energy efficiency. To maximize your energy and cost savings, you want to know how energy efficient a water heater is before you purchase it. Visit the pages on different types of water heaters (linked above) for more on estimating energy efficiency.
  • Costs. Before you purchase a water heater, it’s also a good idea to estimate its annual operating costs and compare those costs with other less or more energy-efficient models. Visit the pages on different types of water heaters (linked above) for more on estimating costs.

Also be sure to do what you can to reduce your hot water use. You may also want to explore other strategies such as drain-water heat recovery to save money on your water heating bill.

How Water Heaters Work

The water coming into your home makes a journey through a system of pipes, and it’s usually cold or cool, depending on the time of year. To have water warm enough to take a hot shower or bath, or use your dishwasher or washing machine, you need a water heater.

Water heaters are familiar fixtures in most homes. They typically look like big metal cylinders, tall drums that are often consigned to a laundry room or basement. Newer styles have some interesting features, like losing the tank completely in favor of water-on-demand, but the old, reliable water heater design that’s most widely used in the U.S. today is really a pretty simple appliance; it’s basically a drum filled with water and equipped with a heating mechanism on the bottom or inside. Even though they lack drama and complexity, water heaters are still pretty amazing. What makes them interesting is that they exploit the heat rising principle to deliver hot water right to your faucet with a minimum of fuss. Don’t let the simple shape shrouded in its wooly insulating blanket fool you. Water heaters have an ingenious design on the inside for something that looks so ordinary on the outside.