In June of 2009 I published an article outlining how one of my DIY solar heaters was made and how it worked. It was a solar heater made from soda cans and an old window, which upon completion I used to heat up my garage a little bit. A few months later, my landlord in New Mexico installed these window-box solar heaters which were absolutely phenomenal; they did an amazing job of heating the two bedrooms in my house. Because these kind of DIY solar heaters garner so much interest, I decided to search out a collection of solar heaters you can build yourself using just a few (mainly recycled) parts and some light labor.
My DIY Solar Heaters
The first one I made was from created out of an old window frame with the glass still intact, a slew of empty drink cans painted black, duct tape, a piece of insulation, a small sheet of plywood, a dryer vent, and a small piece of screen. The window was from a friend, the cans were from me, and everything else was in my garage already just waiting for a project to need them. The heater worked rather well, and should I have lived there longer I would have worked on making it even more efficient and powerful. This is the last picture I took of it, right before finishing up the edges and putting it into place:
The second solar heater I had was made by my landlord, a builder (he built my house, along with a few others) interested in passive solar and alternative energy. Made from a few windows, tar paper, foam insulation, dryer venting, metal grates, a small computer fan & thermostat, all on top of a cement footing, these DIY solar heaters harness the power of the sun to delivery HOT air right into your house all day long using just the energy needed to run the computer fan. I will definitely be building some version of these once I have a home of my own:
Other DIY Solar Heaters
I think the idea of DIY solar heaters is so worth investigating (given rising fuel prices, especially) and I hope some of you guys find it interesting as well. With a few parts and some labor on a nice weekend, you too could be partially heating your home free of charge using only the sun. Here are a few other solar heater projects on the web that you may be able to adapt for your own use:
- Here is a solar air convection heater for a garage, that the builder said is powered by the low angle winter sun. The project uses lumbar, glass, black window screen, caulking, paint, and screws. Link
- GreenUpgrader says that using their heater you can save $45 a month on your heating bill. It’s seemingly a little more labor intensive, but you may already have the parts on hand. Link
- Mother Earth News (a valuable resource, be sure to bookmark them) has a heater that could cut your bills significantly. It’s a big project, but for those DIY pros out there, it may be right up your alley. Link
- The Sietch has detailed information on building a solar thermal panel. You could get a few tips from their trial and errors constructing the panel. Link
- Hemmings Motor News build a soda can heater as well, but it’s way bigger than mine was. It’s got wheels too, so you can move it around to follow the sun. Link
- The Do It Yourself World has a DIY solar heater they built for their mobile home trailer. Total cost? $0. Link
So there you have it – a small collection of DIY solar heaters for you to start your own project from. Combine the pieces that work for you and try to make your own heat source. What have you got to lose? A lower utility bill? I would say that’s worth the effort!