Do-It-Yourself Solar Heat Collectors

By Tabitha Alterman
February/March 2006
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If you have at least one unshaded, south-facing window, you can use a solar heat grabber to direct warm air into your home.

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Wouldn’t you love to heat your home with free energy from the sun? There are simple, inexpensive, do-it-yourself solar projects that can reduce your heating bills.

The sun’s energy can be captured by homemade solar hot-air collectors and thermosiphoning panels to provide free heat. The units direct air warmed by the sun through a window or wall opening into the adjoining room.

If you're serious about cutting your home heating bills this winter, one of these inexpensive, do-it-yourself projects will help:

Solar Heat Grabber
Build this simple solar heater that hangs outside of a window and sends free heat from the sun into a room.

Building Plan for the Solar Heat Grabber
You can build a heat grabber from this detailed, large-scale plan.

Building Plan for a Solar Hot-air Collector
This shed-type hot air collector will help heat your house in the winter and offer storage space in the summer.

The Hot-Line Solar Collector
This is similar to a conventional flat-plate solar collector, but what makes this panel unique is that it contains a specially curved reflector which acts to concentrate incoming sunlight on a wedge-shaped absorption tube.

Storm Window Solar Heating Panels
This article details how to use recycled storm windows to make a solar hot-air collector that delivers heat into the home through a vent installed in a south-facing wall or window.

Solar Hot Air Panel
Build this wall-mounted, thermosiphoning air panel (TAP) to heat a room in your house with the power of the sun.

Ultra-simple Solar Hot-air Wall Heater
This unit is made by covering a 9-by-14-foot framework of 1-by-6-inch boards with clear plastic, mounting the panel on a south-facing wall and installing top and bottom vents into the home.

Recycled Can Solar Hot-Air Heater
Aluminum cans, cut in half, are used to construct the absorber plate for this double-glazed solar hot-air collector. Temperatures in the collector reach more than 200 degrees, and the original unit reduced the heating costs of a New England church by more than 60 percent.

Super Easy, Super Low-cost Solar Hot Air Corrugated Collector
You can build this wall-mounted 8-foot by 12-foot hot air collector, using corrugated fiberglass, to help heat your home.

Automatic Collector Control
The corrugated hot hair collector (above) will be more efficient with this automatic thermostat control.

Inexpensive Solar Hot Air Collector
You can heat a 30-foot by 40-foot building with this wall-mounted, solar collector.

Post a comment below.


11/13/2013 10:52:26 AM
Nice posting this! I get the informations well. Thanks

3/1/2010 3:41:46 PM
Thanks for posting this great collection of home made solar air heaters. It is nice to see what other people have been trying. I live in a cold Canadian climate and have made a few different choices in the design of my solar air heater to help increase the efficiency. I have posted the details of the project here:

3/1/2010 3:40:16 PM
Thanks for posting this great collection of home made solar air heaters. It is nice to see what other people have been trying. I live in a cold Canadian climate and have made a few different choices in the design of my solar air heater to help increase the efficiency. I have posted the details of the project here:

12/7/2008 12:15:46 PM
I built the solar collector in November 2008. I had the mothers plans and also 2 other sets that I found on the net. I took what I felt were the best ideas from each set but basically they were all alike. I used the glass from 4 old storm window2 to save on costs, they actually hang over the edges by 1". Just today it was 20 degrees F. I checked the collector and found the temp was near 120 degrees F. This has been the standard on most days this time of year with a full sun. I placed it in a small bedroom with a south facing window. With the door closed it does get noticably warmer in the room compared to the rest of the house. My wife was a big doubter but was impressed with the amount of heat, a lthough she doesn't care for the way it looks in the room. This was my first solar project and am satisfied with the results. An improvement would be a low velocity fan (computer fan?) mounted on the cold (bottom) intake side controlled by a thermostat on the hot (top) output side.

8/25/2008 6:00:12 PM
This looked pretty interesting. I had some scrap reflective insulation laying around, some scrap wood 2"x10"x5' with 4' cross beams. Made one of these on the cheap. Reflective insulation down the back, and a piece down the middle painted black following the design. Covered it in painters plastic. Total cost $4.00 for the paint and plastic. Initial tests showed 165 Degree heat coming out of the top within 15 minutes! Reflective insulation made it to 185! After about 20 minutes the reflective insulation was not reflecting so well, instead producing heat on the top and bottom sides canceling out the convection. I was still getting heat, but now from both sides. Some other form of insulation down the middle is necessary to keep this from happening. My next one will be made out of foam board with some channeling so the air is forced to move over the foil more. Definately works! -Rob

thomas nickleby
8/23/2008 9:09:38 PM
I have 12 6'3" x 33" tempered safty glass solar panals taking up room in my garage. Years ago I had plans to build solar panel on my roof to heat water. I'm curious to find any info about these. Are they still useful and what they may be worth? I'm not sure if there double or triple pane. They are 1/2" wide.

Jose Correia
10/12/2007 12:00:00 AM
I love reading about natural solar heating.

Sandi Soracco
7/4/2007 12:00:00 AM
Please send me a copy of your free e-book on "How to Heat your Home for Free". I can't seem to get to the place to download it.I am very interested in learning more about solar heat, and would like to start with this book, and will no doubt order more information from you soon.Please email it to ciprio@volcano.netThank you so much... Sandi Soracco

DEBBIE Marsh_1
5/19/2006 12:00:00 AM
I love reading about natural solar heating. But as a woman now of a certain age, and with the accompanying 'power surges' that are so frequent, I've been wondering if there has been any experimentation into swapping out the hot air with the cooler air in my basement, with a lot less work from my heat pump AC?Debbie MarshWinston-Salem, NC

2/8/2006 12:00:00 AM
After looking at the articule on "Solar Heat Collectors", This is what we have been looking for to help us keep the cost down on our utility bills. R.W.

JOE Little
2/7/2006 12:00:00 AM
Great stuff - keep it coming!J.L.

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