How to make a homemade heat exchanger

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How to make a homemade heat exchanger
A radiator is a type of heat exchanger commonly found around the home. (white radiator image by Ekaterina Sidorenko from

A heat exchanger is a system that transfers thermal energy from one source to another source. Heat exchangers are present throughout your day, from the steam radiator used to heat your home, to the radiator in your car, to your hot water heater and refrigerator. Making a homemade heat exchanger can be done using some copper tubing bent together into a tight coil. When hot and cold water are passed in opposite directions through the coils, the hot water heats the cold water.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2 thin-walled copper tubes
  • Vice
  • Smooth cylinder
  • Tubular insulation

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  1. 1

    Lay the copper tubes next to each other with the ends even.

  2. 2

    Holding both copper tubes together, insert the tubes side-by-side into the vice with approximately three inches on one side and the rest on the other side of the jaws. Gently tighten the vice, being careful not to crush the tubes.

  3. 3

    Place the cylinder up against the tubes, then gently bend the tubes around the cylinder.

  4. 4

    Bend the tubes into a tight coil until about three inches of copper tubing is left. The coiled tubes should touch each other all the way down the cylinder.

  5. 5

    Slide the cylinder out of the centre of the coil.

  6. 6

    Wrap the insulation around the coil.

  7. 7

    Remove the coil from the vice. Hot water is to flow in through one end of one tube while cold water flows through the other end of the other tube. This will cause the hot water to warm the cold water as they each flow through the heat exchanger.

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