Heating Seattle backyard studio with soda cans as solar panels

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. 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, 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.
In this video, Mary Rowan used her iphone to film her husband’s month-long process building a solar heater with recycled cans. 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.

Instructions for building a solar heater with recycled cans: http://faircompanies.com/blogs/view/building-a-solar-heater-with-recycled-cans/

More info on original story: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/heating-seattle-backyard-shed-with-soda-cans-as-solar-panels/

Peter’s fiction: http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Rowan/e/B007XVTLF4/
Video Rating: / 5

20 Responses to Heating Seattle backyard studio with soda cans as solar panels

  1. Saucerful says:

    That Zeppelin IV record is going to get warped PDQ… along with all the rest of this LPs. Truly sad.

  2. Angie Krajewski says:

    What you coukd do toadd the days where there is no dun or at night…to have a would stove….

  3. onkar phall says:

    Crud but good

  4. Andrea Wisner says:

    There are many videos on how to do this, with people who understand better.

  5. Darrell Hughes says:

    a regular twist can opener also cuts the tops and bottoms out quicker cleaner and bigger hole …… the trick is to not squeeze the can opener to hard, or it cuts weird ……… a few cans of practice and you will get it.

  6. Sherri Jones says:

    Why didn't you use a chothes dryer vent for the bottom return air and the top supply air. Then if you wanted to take off your solar heater in the summer all you would have to do is cap the vents and duct tape them. You could use foil backed duct insulation to insulate the elbows. You could also use a military P38 to open the top of soda cans to get better air flow and have a better convection of heat. You could use a varible speed control to speed up or slow the air movement out of the solar air heater.

  7. Charles Eye says:

    I feel like adding some of those magnifying lenses we used to put on old televisions would increase the efficiency a great deal.

  8. mark cooper says:

    For the sake of your children don't quit your day job!

  9. Martin Rickarx says:

    piss your pants nobody will no stay warm

  10. Gary Crumrine says:

    Look at older versions of Mother Earth News.  Several old articles about this.

  11. Kareem Anwar says:

    Your fan is wrong…
    Fans dont push air…
    All your inncorrectly placed holes probably mean this was your first time at this …esspecially placing it on your roof…..jeez….
    Cool informative video on HOW NOT TO GO ABOUT this project

  12. Azri'el Collier says:

    Now that it is 5 years later if you switch over to LED lighting, you have more electricity to use for other things. And as you can get 12 volt LED lighting used in RVs and autos, you can have as much lighting running directly off of the 12 volt system and not be wasting energy running an inverter. Also, this too should be considered. place solar panels inside of your heater and have them up against the cans. The solar panels get hot due to the dark color of the cells and thus will heat up the can tubing nicely. BUT! Solar cells are made of silicon crystals and they are less efficient when heated up. By drawing the heat off of them, their efficiency is elevated and thus you produce more power to use for whatever you desire. So, even on cloudy days, while there is still light coming onto the panels and they do produce "some" energy, this would provide more panel to provide more "residual" energy and thus extend the running time of your batteries.

  13. Gary Souza says:

    Too bad you live in the PNW, where it rains all the time..OK maybe not all the time, just 5 months out of the year…HAH!!!. BTW, I live there too, so no haters…

  14. Jacob Shellenbarger says:

    Is black oil filled piping a good option for this in place of cans?

  15. D.Luther Blair says:

    Anyone who still plays albums gets my vote, and Led Zeppelin on the top? Oh yeah…

  16. Kathleen Gustafson says:

    Ingenious. I have seen a design on the same principle where the black boxes feed into the sealed cracked open windows. Loads of passive heat.

  17. orcoastgreenman says:

    To anyone doing this, for a panel that size, you would be better off to use solid 4" aluminum dryer duct… Insulating the pipe above and below the box is a good idea too… Though most insulation needs to be protected from rain and weather somehow.

    The pipe he has seriously limits CFM of air flow into the house. With 4" he would get about the same performance just via convection… No fan needed.

  18. Get Off Your Bass And Lets Fish says:

    Hot air RISES……. sucks lower blows higher.

  19. George Babalashvili says:

    genial – good luck with beer cans ­čÖé

  20. Indigo Dragon71 says:

    Take copper pipe that has fins on the outside and fill pipes with gallium to help absorb and conduct heat and sweat cap both ends then mount the copper tube in the center of each row of cans. Place a low heat stirling engine at the base of the box that will turn and draw in cold air in from floor level in the home pusing the hot air into the home or green house. Or place low voltage fans to push and pull that hot air and force the hot air through insulsted floor vents. Other idea would be to make a aluminum box and cover five sides of a large compost bin with the air heaters and draw air through each one to heat a home or green house. ; )

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