Solar Heated Seat

Pitch your electric space heater and replace it with this solar heated seat.


| September/October 1984


The handcrafted space heater we've designed can be used wherever you've got a full-length, south-facing window or sliding glass door, and it makes an ideal first solar project for the family newly awakened to the possibilities in harnessing the sun's energy. What's more, as its name implies the solar heated seat doubles as a useful piece of furniture, which makes it of added benefit to folks who live in cramped quarters or on limited budgets.

And just how does the solar seat work? Well, simply and unobtrusively. When it's placed before a large pane of glass on a sunny day, with its screened side facing into the room and its lid and back flap opened toward the sun, 24 water-filled milk containers inside capture a useful amount of solar heat. When the sun sets (or no longer shines), the trunk can be closed back up to be used as a sitting stool; then the warmth that's been collecting in it all day will be released slowly into the living area through the screened panel.

Construction Procedure

Tempted to make a solar hot seat of your own? OK, find a tape measure, a handsaw, a coping saw or jigsaw, a protractor, a pair of tin snips, a hammer, a hand drill with bits, and a screwdriver.

Then scrounge up the following building supplies: A couple of 37 1/2"-long 2 x 4's; about 25 linear feet of 1 x 2 pine; 18 square feet of 3/4" plywood; 10 feet of trim molding; some foil-faced foam insulation and decorative screening; a handful of finishing nails, screws, body washers, and carpet tacks; two 3" hinges and two 1 5/8" hinges (with matching screws); a small magnetic latch; and a lid support (preferably one with a friction catch). In order to turn your solar heater into an attractive and comfortable seat, you'll also need some sturdy fabric, as well as cushioning foam, for upholstering the lid.

Got everything? Then here's a step-by-step list of building instructions that, together with the illustration, should guide you through making your solar hot seat.

[1] Begin by nailing a 25 1/2" x 37 1/2" plywood base atop the two (parallel) 2 x 4 runners, using 6d finishing nails.





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