DIY Solar Icemaker


Solar energy acts as a battery for dozens of heat-powered items, including water heaters, convection space heaters and solar cookers. Solar cookers work through reflected heat, cooking food placed at their centers. However, solar cookers can become solar freezers also, reflecting cold into their centers under the right conditions. Creating a solar icemaker starts with a solar cooker and ends with re-purposing it cleverly.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard sheeting
  • Utility knife
  • Mathematical compass
  • Spray adhesive
  • Aluminum foil
  • Packing tape
  • 18-inch square sturdy cardboard box
  • Black screw-top jar
  • Water
  • Small wooden block
  • Two plastic freezer bags
  • Spread out your cardboard sheeting. Cut it down to about 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. Adjust your mathematical compass to a radius that matches the diameter of the jar you'll use in the cooker. For instance, if your jar has a 6-inch bottom, adjust your compass to 6 inches.

  • Draw a half circle in the center of one of your cardboard's long sides. Cut out the half circle and spray the cardboard with adhesive. Smooth aluminum foil over the cardboard with the shiniest side facing out. Allow the cardboard to dry for about an hour.

  • Curl the cardboard into a funnel with the half-circle at the funnel's point and the foil on the inside. Tape the edges of the funnel together with packing tape. Leave the pointed corners on the funnel; they'll help direct energy.

  • Place the funnel point-down and upright in an 18-inch square cardboard box. Make sure the funnel points toward the open sky and doesn't reflect any tree branches or buildings. Wait for full night to arrive.

  • Fill a plastic screw-top jar with water and close the lid tightly. Open up a plastic freezer bag and slip a wooden block into the bottom. Place the jar on top to create an air space between the jar and the bag. Tie the bag closed and slip the entire assembly into a second bag.

  • Place the jar and bag assembly into the center of your solar icemaker. At night, the cooker will radiate heat into the "heat sink" of the sky and reflect cold into the funnel. The funnel will get so cold that the water freezes and creates ice before morning.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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