Even after some research, it is not clear what this thing is. But at about half price, I had to look into it.
Amazon listing - slightly different product but this one has reviews:
The comments on Amazon indicate that it comes with no instructions and people who bought it can’t figure out what to do with it or the included items (some wires). The company’s website doesn’t list the product though it has similar ones. There is a pervasive poor quality of English there that gives one pause. The Amazon listing claims it can heat water up to boiling; I find this unlikely, but if it manages to boil the vessel it is floating in, that would be fun to watch.
It appears that this is supposed to float in something like a pool. If that’s the case, it should consist of the panel, made watertight, something to make it float, and a heating element. It seems to lack the latter, judging from the amazon reviews.
So this thing appears to be a $220 solar panel ($1/watt is a decent price for one) on a $20 rubber mat, hopefully made waterproof. Normally sold for $1600, available here for half the price, but not actually functional as a water heater without adding an element. (If you just stick the wires in the water, even at low voltage it could be dangerous. I’m not sure it will heat the water, but it might electrolyze it, also fun to watch.)
This is ignoring the alternate plan, that you could probably sit the black mat at the bottom of the body of water this is supposed to float in and it would heat the water with higher efficiency than this panel will. Thermal collectors are much more cost effective in general for heating water (ie, sit object in the sun, it will get warm).
Now maybe if this panel was remote mounted, a wire could run into a heating element in a tank; that’s a situation where it might be useful. For example, on top of an RV heating a small tank inside. But that doesn’t appear to be what this thing is at all.
So I’m not saying this thing is a scam to cash in on people who will buy anything with solar in the name, but I’m not not saying it is, either.
Would love to hear from someone who understands it better.
For making “emergency hot water”, now that’s funny.
Oooh Solar Panels that float! I’ve been looking for some of these.
I’ll take 3!
I came here hoping someone else could explain it. It just looked like an overpriced solar panel to me… You did better than I could have!
This particular “picture” isn’t on the naturalcurrent.com webpage, but this one is: http://www.naturalcurrent.com/savior-floating-solar-thermal-water-heater-kit-made-in-the-usa/
Webpage looks cheesy, and would suspect its just reselling chinese goods. you can even contact the CEO who is a “social entrepreneur”, that might mean social engineer, or shilling con man.
I suspect you are seeing less than the whole item, it should be some sort of small pump (driven by the solar panel) connected to a solar tube array (black) that will heat the water passing through it.
Very expensive, since if you just bought the tube kit and wired it into your pool water return line, the flow and the hot tubes would heat up the water using the pool circulator pump. Neighbor did that with his above ground pool, passive solar heating. You can see a bunch of DIY for black tubing solar pool heaters online. This thing is cashing in on the word solar.
I think 220 watts must refer to the panel’s capacity; that wattage matches the dimensions listed. (Unless the 220 watts is a straight-up lie, which is hard to rule out.) That is way more than you would need to run a circulating pump. The pump can be slow and steady. Something in the 30 watt range would do fine.
In your link, that appears to be roughly what they have; a 20ish watt panel circulating water through passive tube collectors. That system ought to work, more or less (without getting too off-topic, I think you could get way more for your money than that thing too).
This seems to be a different concept. I found another similar product on their website that might explain what this is.
Look at this:
I think this is almost exactly the same product as what we have pictured on Woot, with the addition of a white trim piece and a heating element on the bottom. However one of the Amazon reviews I linked states that you get pretty much what is pictured… Panel, mat, and some polyester bag thing. The reviewer said the mat had a hole in the bottom, and perhaps this is where the heating element (which he didn’t get) should mount. Those elements aren’t very expensive compared to the cost of the rest of this, if you are inclined to gamble $750 or so… I now feel a little better saying that this is meant to float in a pool or pond with a heating element hanging under it.
The claims about emergency hot water, or treating hypothermia victims, are a bit much. In full sun, it might manage to heat a cup of coffee in about 10 minutes, so I suppose you could comfort these victims, if they live long enough.
In researching this thing, most pages mentioning this product seem to be the regurgitations of a Markov bot… looking for Amazon referral money I guess.
The truth is out there…
No new information here, but it was easy to find exactly this product on Amazon (same model number): https://www.amazon.com/Natural-Current-NCS220WE2HTR-Floating-Electric/dp/B00JM5M3Z4
The 2 reviewers there didn’t care for it either.
BTW, pretty strange that someone would buy this on Amazon for >$1500 without being sure what it is.
My guess is that this is normally sold by some kind of dealer who sets it up in your pool (or livestock water tank or Antarctic expedition or whatever). That’s why it’s confusing to be sold as-is at retail.
What I think is more interesting than the above mentioned comments is the fact this has been listed since February 7th…and despite all the comments asking for clarification…no one from the staff has addressed it.
Sooo…I keep seeing comments from the staff about how involved they are in picking the products despite the fact that mother ship constantly hovers…hmmmmmmm.
That said…as the earlier comment suggested…the product is demonstrated with the heater kit used in conjunction with the “Savior Floating Solar Powered Pump and Filter System.”
shame on woot for even listing this
Anybody want to take bets on whether this, or the $590 wastebasket sells first?
So, assuming all the specs provided for this device are true, then it could be expected to heat ten gallons of water from 65 degrees F to 120 degrees F in about eight hours. So as long as you’re able to plan a day ahead for when you’ll need hot water this looks like a helluva deal. Half price!
Ill step up and volunteer to have one sent to me so that it can be tested and given a review worthy only to the wooters that read it. Guaranteed to sell at least one unit.
Hahaha, it STILL says 100% left in stock …
This device is meant to turn visible light into heat. The problem with this idea is that there’s much more infrared in solar irradiance than there is visible light. So a heating blanket would probably work better. At my home we have passive water heating panels on the roof and those work just excellently. If you’re out to do emergency water heating, and you absolutely can’t make a fire or use one of those MRE heaters, a reflective oven or Fresnel lens setup would probably work better.
This looks like an “innovation” by somebody who really didn’t understand the physics, or didn’t expect you to. And the buyer at amazon.com goofed.
Amazon didn’t buy these things. Go here to see how this thing was placed on the Woot website.
Especially pay attention at 0:26 of the video. “We’ll sell anything…”
Then drop down to the comments about the “Active and Engaged” community. Here’s my suggestion.
Sell it for $74.51 and like magic… your garage will be empty and you can park your car in there again.
I don’t get it…
How would transforming solar energy into electricity at low efficiency then using that electricity to heat water using a resistive element floating on top of a pool generate more heat than just having the sun shine directly on the pool?
Wow, it’s cool that you know how our business works better than we do!
Sorry, but the Flash deals come from Amazon aged and overstock inventory. Clearing out their warehouse.
This currently seems to be marketed as a pond/pool de-icer. I do think it would work for that (assuming they include, or you add, a heating element). Ice is pretty reflective, so it won’t heat up very fast on its own. A frozen pond with this floating in it should melt faster.
Whether that is worth $745 to you is another question. You could place a PV panel outside your pond and run wires to the heating element for perhaps a third of the cost. You could also try floating a black mat, it seems like that would work about as well and would be a lot cheaper… Try as I might I don’t come up with a great use case (even at a more reasonable price of say, $250… the original $1800 asking price is bonkers.) Like maybe using it to de-ice a remote livestock water tank, but you’d be better off with the panel out of the water at a better angle towards the sun and also less vulnerable to damage.
The company has a lot of floating heater products, both photovoltaic (PV) and thermal collector. One issue with these is they’d all be better off outside the pool/pond. That way the effective surface area is increased. Most serious pool heaters you see place the collectors outside the pool for this reason. One plus for this PV system is you don’t have to worry about it freezing; thermal collectors either have to run with antifreeze and heat exchangers, or use a drainback system, if freezing is a concern.
Would be fun to run some experiments, because this stuff can be hard to analyze. Solar stuff tends to turn into an engineering project; you really have to understand the (basic) physics and economics, or the project turns into a screen door on a submarine.