Solar Powered Stock Tank Heater

Tanks used for livestock watering may become frozen over the winter. Traditional electric heaters are expensive and require access to AC power; alternative solutions exist that offer more significant savings without needing AC access.

This article introduces a design to prevent homestead water troughs from freezing using a solar-powered stock tank heater. A prototype will be constructed and documented through a two-month winter test phase.


In cold weather, livestock needs a constant source of fresh, clean water to drink. Unfortunately, ice formation in stock tanks can prevent this from occurring and lead to dehydration; this poses a real threat. There are ways to stop this ice from forming; one effective solution is using solar-powered stock tank heaters, which utilize the sun’s energy, instead of electric tank heaters, which require lots of electricity for operation and are much more eco-friendly and cost-efficient than their counterparts.

Solar water heater costs depend on several factors, including the size of the tank, location, and system type used. A primary storage tank typically costs around $1,000-$1,700, while larger double-glazed storage tanks can run upwards of $2,000. As tanks get bigger, they may require additional insulation in order to prevent ice buildup from freezing over.

There are various kinds of solar water heaters, including flat-plate collectors, evacuated vacuum tubes, and solar water heating systems. Flat-plate collectors use dark absorber panels enclosed in an insulated box with glass or plastic glazing; they provide more heat in cloudy or cold conditions compared to traditional tanks – while also being cheaper.

Other solar-powered stock tank heaters feature glass/plastic glazing placed over the tank and covered by corrugated metal to minimize overnight heat loss and maximize sunlight absorption. This design is excessively straightforward and affordable to construct.

Another approach is to place a solar panel directly on the water tank, provided that it is located in an area with plenty of sun and warm temperatures for its supply lines. Unfortunately, such systems only apply in limited environments.

Rural farmers seeking the optimal solution should install solar-powered stock tank heaters to save money and lower their carbon footprint. In addition, this will eliminate the need to move livestock to feed lots – known for creating environmental hazards, including accumulations of unusable manure, increased methane emissions and releases of pathogens, organic matter, urea, phosphorus carbon dioxide antibiotics, and hormones into surface waters and soils.

Energy Efficiency

Solar-powered stock tank heaters offer an efficient, cost-effective means of warming water in livestock tanks. Their many benefits over traditional energy sources, including reduced electricity bills and maintenance costs, helping farmers and ranchers reduce carbon emissions, providing livestock with access to clean drinking water that improves animal welfare, as well as helping increase productivity, are numerous.

Solar stock tank heaters differ from their electric counterparts in that they don’t emit greenhouse gases and require minimal maintenance, unlike electric stock tank heaters, which do. Solar heaters work best in areas with ample sunlight and clear weather; however, you should carefully consider climate conditions and local weather patterns before purchasing one. In an ideal situation, your system would prevent your water from freezing during colder seasons.

Solar-powered stock tank heaters consist of solar panels, an electrical circuit, and a heating element. Solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity, which powers a heating element installed inside livestock tanks – this process ensures animals always have access to fresh drinking water! They’re an ideal choice in rural areas that experience long, cold winters where conventional electric heaters may not provide sufficient warmth.

Solar-powered stock tank heaters boast superior energy efficiency compared to their electric counterparts due to using more minor heating elements with reduced energy usage and an insulated container to retain that heat produced by solar panels.

Traditional electric stock tank heaters tend to have a large surface area that emits heat quickly and requires expensive maintenance costs while being challenging to use during cold temperatures.

Z4 Energy Systems, LLC is developing a 100% solar-powered stock tank heater that will be used to de-ice remote livestock watering tanks and enable pasture grazing during winter. The heater will use night-time heating to melt ice overnight while keeping an opening of 2 feet wide open during the day when livestock drink, cutting manual labor costs while protecting animals and minimizing waste.


Stock tank heaters are an effective way to ensure that the water in your livestock tanks doesn’t freeze during winter, helping improve animal health by providing access to fresh, clean water at all times. Solar-powered tanks offer even more significant environmental benefits while being more cost-effective upfront than their electric or gas counterparts.

Building a stock tank heater depends on your specific needs and budget, but in general, the easiest and most cost-effective method involves using a tank with an insulated lid, solar panels, and thermostats – with solar panels turning sunlight into heat energy while thermostats monitor tank water temperatures before switching on solar heaters when temperatures fall below freezing – creating a system which keeps livestock water from freezing over the winter season.

Solar heating systems can be more cost-effective in areas with sufficient sunlight than other forms of heaters, such as gas heaters that may need flues and ventilation to operate effectively, but electric tank heaters may not have enough heating power or cost.

As part of your construction process, the first step should be constructing an insulated box to house your galvanized tank. Use 2X4s to frame its sides before screwing plywood sheets along their length – leaving an opening at the front for collector glazing purposes. It would be best if you also insulated around its base; thickness depends on your location.

Pre-made solar tank heaters designed for agricultural purposes can be purchased ready-made. Constructed of stainless steel, these water storage devices have large capacities suitable for livestock such as cattle and horses. Furthermore, greenhouses may be used to protect livestock against frost damage.

An alternative solution is using a solar-powered deicer attached to a livestock tank, capable of melting ice from its surface while also being suitable for household hot water systems. A prototype of this device has already been field-tested over two winter seasons; development efforts are currently underway for manufacturing.


Once your solar system is up and running, it must remain in good repair and working order. Review warranties on individual components and arrange regular inspections with a qualified technician; this may include checking the temperature/froze point of propylene glycol antifreeze solutions used in liquid collectors, measuring acidity via pH meters and optimizing their positioning, as well as periodic de-scaling or mild acidic solutions application to avoid mineral build-up on pipes/collectors/piping and prevent mineral build-up by periodically cleaning/de-scaling or gentle acidic solutions applied sometimes – some systems even drain excess heat automatically to a separate tank when overheating occurs – such systems have auto dampening features to drain excess heat away into different tanks when overheated automatically.

If you want to use a solar-powered stock tank heater, there are various approaches available to you. One is positioning your tank so its glazed wall faces south, receiving sun from 9 am to 3 pm. Alternatively, building a box around it and filling it with foam insulation or scrap fiberglass can seal off all open spaces around the sides and bottom of the tank, painting box frame black before fastening galvanized tank securely into position.

Pump-and-system solutions use solar energy to aerate livestock tanks or ponds during the day and release warm water through bubblers into icy surfaces for animals and wildlife to drink from. This unit typically features a PV module, junction box, and control switch.