This is what climate protection looks like.

Harnessing the power of the sun.

A SunShower That’s Easy on the Climate

The sun as an energy source is inexhaustible by any practical measure — and it‘s free of charge. With the right technologies, solar energy can be used to produce hot water reliably. The advantages for homeowners are obvious. They’re no longer dependent on fossil fuels, with their steadily rising prices; they benefit from con-siderable cost savings and contribute to climate protection. With a good idea and the appropriate material, you ideally need only the simplest of designs.

New Zealander Richard Gourley's prizewinning invention could be described as un-complicated and effective. Its name, the SunShower, gives you an idea of how it works. It’s a garden shower that uses the sun to heat water, exploiting the heat-reflecting property of PLEXIGLAS HEATSTOP?. Gourley's shower won him the first prize in the PSP Design Challenge, a design competition sponsored by the New Zea-land building products supplier PSP.

The idea of the solar shower came to Gourley in his beach house, where he was experimenting with various designs for a garden shower that had to meet three requirements: the water temperature had to be infinitely adjustable from hot to cold; only the sun could be used as the energy source; and running water had to be avail-able at all times. “The starting point for me was a garden hose lying all day in the sun and providing warm water when turned on. Of course, it was impossible to predict the temperature of the water at any given time but that problem could be solved by the use of mixing valves,” says Gourley. This approach worked so well that Gourley used it to develop a marketable product.

From heat protection to energy source

He designed an aluminium frame carrying a fine system of tubes — the radiator in which the water is heated. For the heating system to work effectively, the radiator must be clad with the right material. Says Gourley: “PSP had a product with a heat-reflective surface coating — PLEXIGLAS HEATSTOP?.” The material is normally used for roofing and light domes; in these applications the coating serves as protec-tion against heat, because it reflects 68 percent of the sun's energy but is transparent to light. Gourley, on the other hand, uses this to heat the water. He sandwiched the radiator between PLEXIGLAS? corrugated sheets. On the "sunny" side of the shower is a transparent PLEXIGLAS? sheet. Sunlight can therefore impinge freely on the tubes and heat the water. The sheet on the "shady" side, on the other hand, is of PLEXIGLAS HEATSTOP?. Its heat-reflecting side faces inwards, toward the tubes, which are thus heated from both sides. The white exterior of the sheet has a matt fin-ish and is opaque. The standard SunShower, which is 2.50 meters long and 2 meters high, therefore serves also as a sight screen for changing clothes.

The jury’s verdict in the design competition: “Its ecological advantages, unique basic concept, and technical development make the SunShower an example of outstanding design.” When the sun is shining, the shower warms the water in the tubes within 15 minutes. To provide a pleasant water temperature even after a long period of sun-shine, Gourley fitted the shower with a mixing valve. This allows the temperature to be regulated by cold water from the attached garden hose as required.

The concept is simple but effective, and — precisely for this reason — holds great promise for the future. Because the SunShower uses no electricity, it is eco-friendly and climate-neutral. And the principle can be applied also for the hot-water supply of swimming pools and buildings. Richard Gourley says: “We've also developed a fence, the SunFence, in which transparent PLEXIGLAS? and PLEXIGLAS HEAT-STOP? are again used to heat water.” The system can be installed as a balcony, patio, or garden fence, or around a pool. “And another advantage is that the whole thing looks good, because PLEXIGLAS? has a contemporary and sophisticated appear-ance.“

Product brochure as PDF:
Energy-Saving Heat Shield for Factory Units and Office Buildings with PLEXIGLAS HEATSTOP?. Download PDF 

The online video series presents climate-friendly projects with PLEXIGLAS?.