So I used a low cost (under $50) product that you can’t buy in stores (well there use to be a guy in Newfoundland selling a version) and it will heat your house all day long with as little as 20 minutes of sun per hour.
Now since it’s solar it won’t be no good to you at night or when it rains/snows all day. But I’m willing to bet that you save the cost of making it in the first winter, plus put savings in your pocket. Nice thing is every other winter you get “real” heat from this thing, it’s absolutely FREE!
Of coarse I am talking about the “pop can solar heater” also known as the “pop can solar oven”. This thing has been around forever and there are more than enough plans on the internet to show how to get the job done.
So instead a creating another set of plans, I want you to watch one of the many youtube videos on this and then from there I will tell you some of the changes I made for my own to, in my opinion improve the heater.
This is by far one of the better video’s I have seen on youtube for making a solar heater.
The idea of the pop cans, used lumber when you can get it and old storm windows is that the project is “Green” in most every way. The project can be made from 100% recycled materials and cost you nothing but your time to build it.
However if your lazy like me, or are making them for someone else (also like me) you can take short cuts. For one of mine instead of pop cans, to save time I used 3 inch round aluminum duck work. You can also get what amounts to pretty much the same thing, but its called dryer vent pipe. But be sure to check the heat rating on whatever aluminum tube you buy because as you can see in the video, it can really heat up.
As far as what I have done differently for my builds, depending on the size of the heater I am building, I use a bigger fan motor, or in the case of units the size of the one you seen in the video, I have used a series of computer fan motors at the half way point, so that the cans are broken up into two sections.
For the installation process, I found I like it better when it looks and installs nice and neat. I mounted mine facing south (best direction) and the wall I choose was close to a closet. So I ran extended duck work from my solar heater output to the coil in my house furnace. So instead of natural gas heating my coil, the can heater was the source of heat when the sun was shining. And the intake for the solar heater, I ran duck work to a cold air return vent. All the duct work was hidden in a closet and boxed in to make it look pretty.
The point of all this was to get heat through out the house and not just the one room the where the heater was mounted to the outside wall. Also by having the air drawn into the unit from the house, the air was already warmer than if you were drawing air from the outside.
The problem with this was getting a guy to come in and jimmy-rig my furnace so that the gas didn’t come on unless I flipped a switch. So if I wasn’t home all day, I either had to turn off the gas and hope we had enough sun, or turn off the solar heater and use the gas. You can see how this got to be a pain. But before I could fix it, I moved from that house and the new people wanted it left the way it was as the wife would be home all day and it wouldn’t be such an inconvenience. This summer when I launch my “Green” video series I will make another heater and attempt to do the same style installation but all automatic. Haven’t got it all figured out yet, so if you have any idea’s be sure comment here, I could use all I can get.
To finish up this section on FREE heat, I have to acknowledge Rich Allen (click on Rich’s name to see all his great video’s) who made the above video. I have to also acknowledge his genius in making a newer version of the solar heater. You won’t believe this, check it out.