New Improved 20-gallon Solar Shower! - Free Building Plans

solar shower

This new improved solar shower features an exterior of recycled slab wood (scraps from a lumber mill that are normally discarded), a glass top on a weather stripped frame that flips open and seals in heat much better, a door that opens and closes securely, and a light that illuminates the shower after dark. So now I can take a shower in the morning and the water is still luke warm (hot summer weather). Also, now no tools are needed to replace the bags just flip open and secure the top with the rope pulley system. All-in-all these were some nice changes that I think will greatly increase the use-ability. The steps I used to build this shower are given below. Watch the video - Click Here!

To see enlarged views of each photo in a new window, just click on the photo.


Step 1 - Follow Steps 1 thru 5 as shown at Solar Shower Plans to get the basic frame as shown below.


Step 2 - Fasten 2x4 pieces that have been ripped down to 3" wide over the front 3 edges and a 2x2 over the back edge. This increases the water capacity and forms a 1.5" lip to cover the tops of the slab wood. See sketch below. In my case, I modified my existing shower, using a similar procedure.

shower frame

Step 3 - Make a level gravel pad for the skid. Build out the skid so its outside edges match the outside edges of the top frame (not including the lip). To insure that all is aligned, hang a plumb bob from each corner of the shower frame - it should hang directly over each corner of the skid below. After the skid is in place, aligned, and level, I secured it by drilling a 3/8" hole in each corner and driving a 2 ft 3/8" rod (rerod from home store) into the ground through the platform.


shower pallet pallet

Step 4 - I obtained slab wood from a local lumber mill - it was free. However, these pieces have rough uneven bark edges so I had to fasten a straight thin wood cutting guide, use my circular saw to cut a straight edge and then refasten the cutting guide to make the other edge straight. The first straight edge serves as a reference for fastening the second edge cutting guide. It was easier than I thought it would be. I then fastened one of my sturdiest pieces to the front corner and attached utility hinges. I then built the door, temporarily fastening the door with one deck screw top and bottom.

saw solar shower door

Step 5 - I cut a large piece of OSB board to match the inside of the door. I fastened the OSB board to the door pieces with quite a few deck screws. Once this was done, I removed the temporary screws (Step 4) fastening the door pieces and I had a swinging door!

OSB Board door


Click To Enlarge Photo

Step 6 - Fasten the other pieces of slab wood with several screws on the top and bottom for each piece. If needed, rip down a piece to get the proper width.

Step 7 - Attach a tarp to the inside of the shower. I used a brown and silver tarp with the brown side facing out - this made it blend in with the wood pieces at any gaps.

shower tarp

Step 8 - Construct a wood top using two 8 ft pieces of 6" (5.5" actual width) deck board as shown below. Cut out a corner (rabbeted edge) in the top side all the way around for a piece of glass or plexiglass to sit. I used glass from an old window. Secure the glass or plexiglass with window push pins (from a hardware store) and then use silicone caulk or window glaze to seal in. Place weather strip on the bottom side, set in place, and secure with two hinges. You now have a weather sealed top that swings open. You can then attach a screw ring with rope and a pully as shown below to secure the top open when changing the bag.

glass top shower top

Step 9 - Install shower bags as shown on Step 7 of Cut out a notch at the top of the frame for the fill hose as shown below. The fill hose stays in place at all times except when changing the bags.

solar shower

Step 10 - A fairly easy way to light this shower is to cut out an opening on the wall where the shower is attached and place a semi-clear covering over the hole. Then, the inside light will shine through the covering. You can provide additional light as shown below by having a designated light to provide even more illumination.

solar shower light solar shower light

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