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Lisbon students invent “green” hot tub

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LISBON – They’re calling it the “Redneck Hot Tub” and it might be exactly what your backyard is missing.

The alternative energy class at Lisbon Central School, taught by Alan L. Bouchard, designed and built a hot tub which is heated by solar power and a wood stove.

“You’re basically totally off the grid,” Mr. Bouchard said of the hot tub.

A simple-enough concept, water for the tub is pre-heated copper tubes exposed to direct sunlight before passing through the wood stove.

On sunny days this can significantly reduce the amount of wood required get the water warm.

It was the system of copper tubes warmed by the sun that proved the most challenging part of the project to build, according to David A. Turri, one of the students working on the project.

David said the copper tubes were difficult largely due to the amount of soldering required and the intricacy of the design.

The system also uses a pump powered by a solar panel that circulates water through the system.

“It’s kind of like a hybrid,” Mr. Bouchard said, describing the system.

And that’s good in the north country, he said, where sunny days come at a premium.

Built out of a cow watering trough, a 50-gallon metal drum, copper piping and several 2x4 pieces of wood, the entire project only cost roughly $450.

Add the solar panel, which Mr. Bouchard said clocks in at around $650, and you’re still talking about a do-it-yourself hot tub that’s a lot cheaper than retail.

So far the class has gotten the water up to temperatures of between 95 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, but they hope to get it even hotter as they continue making adjustments.

One of the big benefits of the system, Mr. Bouchard said, is that it’s a system “you can take anywhere you want,” because you don’t have to plug it in.

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