water systems

How does the Dacha get and deal with water?

Well, we have a well.

This is how we get the water to the house:

An air compressor is turned on which sends air through a buried line to the well.

Inside the well we have a Brumby Pump – thanks to a Sustainable Tompkins Mini Grant. The Brumby is a very simple cylinder-shaped pump with no moving parts that uses air bubbles to push the water up from the well. Nothing electrical or complicated is installed in the well.

installing the brumby

The water is pushed up another buried line that runs into a large 550 gallon tank that sits in the berm behind the house.

550 gallon tank hanging out with Sharon

When we turn on the cold water, a small DC pump gets the water from the tank into the house. This uses very little energy and we only have to refill the tank when it gets pretty low, which is rarely.

So we’re warm, and we’re eating and drinking…but we soon realize that we really need to shower. We have a solar shower, sure…but around here you can get pretty smelly waiting for the sun to come out. Time to get the Dacha hot water.

Our plan: use solar hot water tubes and the Lister engine (our diesel generator) to create hot water. Store the hot water in an insulated tank in our sun room – a hot water battery into which we can throw some coils of copper to heat the house water.

The generator part is relatively easy. It creates hot water by default in its cooling process. A copper coil filled with glycol acts as a thermosyphon heat exchanger by running in a loop from the generator through our hot water storage tank. Using no pumps or motors the generator stays cool while producing domestic hot water.


So run a copper loop (3/4 inch copper coil) into the tank and you have that hot water stored.

copper coil in our hot water tank 

We bought a SunMaxx evacuated tube system from Silicon Solar. It’s 30 tubes that will sit up on the roof. We haven’t set them up yet but they sure look pretty.


The difficult step was finding a tank to store the water. There are few tanks that can handle the higher temperatures we are dealing with. Also, the tank has to be able to handle the wear of water storage. There are companies that make exactly what we were looking for, but we couldn’t possibly afford a $2,000 tank at this point.  (Who can?) We settled on a galvanized stock tank – the kind generally used for livestock. We coated the interior with waterproof outdoor paint from Tractor Supply.

galvanized stock tank 

Then we insulated all sides with Reflectix and rigid foam insulation.  At this point there are two copper coils in the tank. One, a closed loop from the generator to the tank. And a second from the tank to the house domestic water. The final system will have a third loop coming from the solar water tubes.

copper coil w zip ties creating space between loops 

tank insulated with reflectix and rigid foam 

Even with the generator as the only source currently heating the water, the Dacha is able to have really awesome hot showers! However, it is still summer and we’ll have to improve the system for colder weather. We’ll keep you updated, don’t worry. For now, you may be assured that we are clean… well, cleaner anyway.