Solar Hot Water History
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Iwalani's Voyage Around the World
Weekly logs of Iwalani's three year circumnavigation written by Philip Shelton, Amy P. Wood and Stewart the Cat.

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The "World Voyagers" Book
A true story of the three year circumnavigation by Philip Shelton, Amy Wood and Stewart the cat. From designing and building a 42 foot wooden cutter "Iwalani" to sailing around the world— this is not a watered down, sugar coated tale, but a "no holds barred" account of just what it's like to live a "dream."

In the 1760s, Horace de Saussure observed "It is a known fact, and a fact that has probably been known for a long time, that a room, a carriage, or any other place is hotter when the rays of the sun pass through glass.” de Saussure built a rectangular box out of half-inch pine, insulated the inside, and had the top covered with glass, and had two smaller boxes placed inside. Sunshine penetrated the glass covers. The black inner lining absorbed the sunlight and converted it into heat. Though clear glass allows the rays of the sun to easily enter through it, it prevents heat from doing the same. As the glass trapped the solar heat in the box, it heated up.

The earliest solar hot water collectors, dating back to the nineteenth century, were tanks filled with water and painted black. The downside was that even on clear, hot days it usually took from morning to early afternoon for the water to get hot. And as soon as the sun went down, the tanks rapidly lost their heat because they had no protection from the night air.

In 1891, Clarence Kemp patented a way to combine the old practice of exposing metal tanks to the sun with the scientific principle of the hot box, thereby increasing the tanks' capability to collect and retain solar heat. He called his new solar water heater the Climax - the world's first commercial solar water heater.

In 1909, William J. Bailey patented a solar water heater that revolutionized the business. He separated the solar water heater into two parts: a heating element exposed to the sun and an insulated storage unit tucked away in the house so families could have sun heated water day and night. The heating element consisted of pipes attached to a black-painted metal sheet placed in a glass-covered box. Because the water to be heated passed through narrow pipes rather than sat in a large tank, Bailey reduced the volume of water exposed to the sun at any single moment and therefore, the water heated up faster. Providing hotter water for longer periods put Bailey's solar hot water heater, called the Day and Night, at a great advantage over the competition.

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Check the progress of Phil's Tundra Kit Plane


Paintings, Artwork and Blog of Dr. Amy Peters Wood.


Building the 65' schooner "Janet May"