Green Home Heating Improvement Using Cheap DIY Pop-Can Solar Panels

By constructing and installing solar panels at your home, you can significantly reduce your monthly electric bill and at the same time set an example for other people in your neighborhood who are not so ecologically conscious. This is very easy project and possible for anybody to do, no matter what experience you have at DIY projects.

Ingenious solution shown on cansolair site served as an inspiration to build efficient “home-made” solar collector. Basically, it is incredibly simple and cheap solar panel for supplemental home heating, which heats the air directly.

The most interesting thing is the fact that solar panel is almost entirely constructed out of empty beer and soda aluminum cans!

Housing for solar collector is made of wood (plywood 15mm), while its front is made out of 3 mm (0.12 inches) Plexiglas / polycarbonate (you can use tempered glass as well). The back of the case set is made of rock wool (you can use Styrofoam) as insulation.

Solar absorber is made of beer / soda cans, and painted in matte-black paint resistant to high temperature. The upper part (cover) of cans is specifically designed to provide greater efficiency in heat exchange between the cans and the passing air.

When it is sunny, regardless of outside temperature, cans and inside air heat up very quickly. Small fan drives heated air back into the room.

Our solar system is not able to accumulate thermal energy it produces. When it’s sunny, the solar panel produces heat, but it is necessary to use it immediately for heating the air inside the house. If the sun does not shine, it is necessary to interrupt the supply of air in the solar collector, because otherwise the room will begin to cool down. This can be solved in a simple way – by installing the valve, which will reduce the heat loss to a minimum.

Small differential thermostat (snap disk) controls the fan. This thermostat can be bought in better-equipped electronic component stores. The unit has two sensors. One placed inside the top opening for warm air, the other inside the lower opening for the supply of cold air in the solar collector.

If you set the temperatures carefully, the solar collector can produce an average of 2 kW of energy for home heating. This generally depends on how much sun do you have during the day.

Dress rehearsal of solar collector was carried out in the backyard before installing the system on the house. It was a sunny winter day, no clouds. A small cooler extracted from a faulty power supply of PC was used as a fan. After 10 minutes in the sun, solar collector produced hot air with temperatures of 70 ° C!

The test results have encouraged us to install solar heater on the house as soon as possible.

After completing installation of solar panel, the outside temperature was -3 ° C, and from the solar collector was coming out 3 m3/min (3 cubic meters per minute) of heated air. In the home version we used more powerful fan than for the test. Heated air temperature went up to +72 ° C. Temperature was measured by digital thermometer. Small anemometer measured the speed of the air circulated through the solar collector. To calculate the heating power of our solar panel, we took the air flow, and average air temperature at the exit from the unit.

Calculated power that the solar panel produced, was approximately 1950 W (watts) which is almost 3 HP (3 horsepower)!!!

CONCLUSION: Considering that the results were quite satisfactory, we can conclude that this solar panel is definitely worth making. The collector, at the very least, costs under 150$ and can be used for additional heating of our home, and it is up to you to calculate and figure out how much savings you can achieve.

Complete and detailed instructions on how to build your own pop can solar panel heater can be found on DIY solar projects