A Do-It-Yourself Solar Power Heating System – With Aluminum Cans

How to Build A Pop Can Solar Power Heater

How much are you willing to go through to get off the energy grid?

One man by the name of Peter Rowan put a lot of time, energy and dedication into creating an alternative-energy solar-powered heating system for himself in his home office.

The good news is that the time investment needed was spread over the course of months, only a little bit at a time.

Observe step-by-step how he built it and how it works below!

Detailed instructions can also be found in the description below.

Peter Rowan left his job as a “corporate weenie” in 2010 to live a life with less stuff and fewer expenses and with more time to pursue his dreams (see video Alternative American Dream: less house & stuff, more travel).

Since downsizing his life, he’s begun writing fiction from home (in addition to a teaching gig) so for a bit more privacy, this year he decided to single-handedly convert the family’s unused garage into his off-grid writing retreat. Crafting it mostly out of repurposed materials, it’s fitting that he decided to heat it using a home-made, recycled can solar panel.

After collecting 275 cans (soda, juice, mineral water and beer), he began to drill holes into the ends, glue them together and fit them into a box crafted from plywood and 2 by 4’s. Adding a bit of black spray paint and some plexiglass, he created his home-made solar panel. He salvaged a couple of fans from an old computer to create a system for pushing cold air into the solar panel and pushing the hot air out and into his office.

At first he placed his home-brewed panel on the roof of his tiny office, along side his 4 tiny photovoltaic panels (just enough to run a laptop and a light, but not enough for conventional heating), but there wasn’t enough lift to move the air through. He moved it down to the side of the office where it’s now hinged to the structure and can be moved depending on the angle of the sun.

Granted Seattle may not be the ideal spot for solar, but Peter says that it seems to heat up the space by about 5 or 6 degrees even on a “crummy day” and when the sun is out it can provide too much heat.

In this video, Mary Rowan used her iPhone to film her husband’s month-long process of collecting cans, crafting the heat collector and finding a perfect resting place for the panel.

[For a set of instructions on how to make your own DIY solar panel see our post Building a solar heater with recycled cans.]



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