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How to make a Beer Can Solar Heater

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Written by Bill Hanks   



Jim Meaney of Newfoundland, Canada made this Beer Can Solar Heater.  This part of the world is known for icebergs and short winter days.  We are not talking about Arizona.  So it must work.  This article will explain in steps, how to make your very own Beer Can Solar Heater.  This is a great energy saver.

You will need to do this project in two steps.

First; Build a collectors box.  Second; A collection unit.

Collectors Box.  You will need 1" by 12" side boards.  The back of your box is 3/4" plywood or particle board.  Your box should be big enough to hold 192 beer cans.(12 columns of 16 cans)  The frame is rectangular.  The actual box size depends on can size.  A rough estimate would be 36" x 80".  Cut an 4 inch outlet hole in the top of the frame.  This will hold your aluminum dryer vent hose. Then cut another rectangular hole into the back of the box near the bottom. This rectangular opening was cut large enough to fit a flexible downspout hose. Place a regular downspout elbow into this hole.  Secure it in place. The frame was made so that the glass door would fit snugly against the box and flush with the top of the sides. The door panel was set on 1"x3" strapping screwed to the inside of the four sidewalls to help secure it in place. Across the width of the bottom of our solar heater box we inserted two support pieces of 1"x4" pine. Next place insulation against the inside of the wood.  You want to keep in as much heat, as possible.  Cover the insulation with aluminum foil. Use heavy duty foil.  A hand wood stapler will be great for securing this over your insulation.

Note about glass;  Regular glass works best, but can break from hail or sports balls in the yard.  Plexi-lass is thicker and will hold in the heat better.  However, it doesn't collect the sun's rays as well, as real glass will.  So there is pros and cons to both.

Collection Unit.  You need 192 aluminum beer cans.  Use chicken wire inside the box to hold the beer cans.  It will look like a cage to keep the cans in place.  At the bottom of each can drill a 5/8 " hole in the bottom.  These holes will let the heat from the bottom raise to the top of the unit.  Spray paint all the cans black.  This will help absorb the sun's heat. Stack the cans into the box and use aluminum duct tape to hold them in place.  Lay it across and up and down on the backside of the cans.  Now take your chicken wire cage with cans and place it into the collectors box.  Place your glass in place and caulk all seams with exterior caulking.  Paint the wood frame if you would like to.

Mounting your Unit.  Either build a stand or mount it on your roof.  Place a round vent big enough for your dryer vent hose.  Use stovepipe for stability as it enters the house.  Place a small computer fan inside the vent hose by the window. This will blow in the warm air from the unit.  You can even use a solar battery to run it.  Next, run your bottom downspout at the bottom into the basement or under your home, if you have no basement.

That's it.  You are finished.  Make sure it is placed on the sun side of the house.  Keep your dryer vent hose insulated and as short as possible.  This solar heater can exceed 160 degrees.  Keep in mind, that it is for daylight use only.

This is a great energy saver.

 

 

sources; Jim Meaney , www.capecodeweather.net

 

 

 

 

 






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