DIY Solar Heater Plans

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While commercial solar heating panels cost well over most homeowners' budgets, convection solar panels are almost free. Using recycled materials, you can make panels that draw cool air in at the bottom, warm it with the sun's heat and expel it as hot air from holes in the top. You can place these panels in south-facing windows in bedrooms, parlors, kitchens and dens. This means you can turn off the heat in these rooms and make a big dent in your heating bill.

Things You'll Need

  • Soda cans
  • Electric hand drill
  • 2-inch boring bit
  • Silicone caulk
  • Black spray paint
  • Cardboard
  • Utility knife
  • Awl
  • S-hooks
  • Measure the length and width of your window and gather enough soda cans to cover the area. For a window 24 inches wide by 36 inches long, you'll need 48 soda cans if they're 6 inches tall by 3 inches wide. Rinse and dry all of the cans and remove all of the tabs.

  • Drill down through the bottom and top of 32 of your soda cans with a 2-inch boring bit. Push slowly to avoid crumpling your cans. Drill through the top of your remaining 16 cans. Drill a second hole through the back of these cans about 1/2 inch from the bottom.

  • Run a bead of silicone glue around the top of eight of your back-drilled soda cans. Press the bottom of a bottom-drilled soda can into each bead of caulk. Continue until you have eight columns of five cans. Press the top of the last eight back-drilled soda cans into the bead of silicone caulk on the fifth can of each column.

  • Run a bead of silicone caulk down the left side of one column. Press a second column into it, continuing until all of your columns are glued together. Make sure the holes in the back-drilled cans all face the same direction. Let the silicone dry for two hours and spray paint the can wall black. Let the paint cure overnight.

  • Cut a piece of cardboard to your window's measurements with a utility knife. Cut a 2-inch rectangular window across the top and bottom of the cardboard about 1/2 inch from the edge. Glue the can wall to the cardboard with silicone glue, making sure the back-drilled holes line up with your windows.

  • Punch a hole in the top corners of the cardboard with your awl. Slip the S-hooks through the holes and hang the panel from a curtain rod.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paint or glue decorative fabric over the back of your heating panel to match your décor. You can also frame it with half-round molding.
  • Glue cork or very thin steel flashing to the back of your cardboard to create a message board. You can also spray paint it with chalkboard paint for a similar effect.

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References

  • Photo Credit cans image by robert lerich from Fotolia.com
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