Author Topic: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.  (Read 3176 times)

Offline Roswell

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I found this really cool how-to on a home heater made from cans and an old window.  It could also be a solar dehydrator. I haven't done it yet, I just found it today, but it looks like a pretty good little project.  I pasted the directions below or click the link for pictures

http://ecotechdaily.com/2009/07/01/free-heat-from-an-old-window-and-some-soda-cans/


Free Heat From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
By David Quilty • Published July 1st, 2009 • Further Reading 
Departments: Energy • Featured
Explore related topics: Energy • heat • reuse • Solar

This article was originally posted at my site The Good Human, but because it is “EcoTech” oriented, I figured it should probably be here as well. Enjoy!

Some of you may remember a post I wrote back on my birthday that offered a sneak peek of a top-secret project I have been working on in my garage, and asked you to guess what the picture might be. Here is the picture that I posted on that day:


Well, the time has come to unveil more pictures of project timeline and all its finished glory, followed by some information as to how I made it, what its for, and what I will be doing with it now that it’s done. Let’s first take a look at a few pictures I took as I was building this solar space heater…

So, now can you guess how this thing works? As air enters the 2 holes on the sides near the bottom, the sun is heating up the soda cans all painted black to absorb the heat. The cans have holes drilled in the bottom, so the air being drawn in at the bottom works its way through all the heated cans and gets hotter and hotter as it approaches the top. With convection, more and more air is drawn in through the bottom and the heat rises. A single hole drilled in the top of the frame is where all this heat comes out, and I have to tell you - it’s friggin’ hot and it comes flying out of there at full speed. That’s the basics of how it works. But how was it made? Well, if you cannot see from the pictures, the ingredients include:

One old window frame w/glass intact
Empty soda or beer cans, spray painted black, with holes drilled in the bottom
Duct tape
A piece of insulation
Plywood for the back (I only have cardboard on it right now, so it’s not even sealed properly)
A dryer vent to hook to the top to direct the heat where you want it to go
Small screen to cover the 2 intake holes at the bottom

That’s it - it’s basically a free heater. However, now you may be asking how/where it could be used? Well, what I was initially going to use it for was to heat my garage during the winter, so I could work out there all day without freezing to death. My plan was to lean it up against the outside of the garage, right below a south-facing window, and let it collect the sun’s rays there. And then, I was going to build a custom window-shim out of a piece of wood that would let me prop open the window a bit but keep it sealed, and then cut a hole in the wood to attach the dryer vent to, which would bring the hot air into the garage. Kind of like this:


And finally, if I wanted to, I could mount a tiny fan to blow the heat further into the garage. But judging by the temperature reading coming off the air at the top, I might not even need to do that. It was up to over 105 degrees the other day around 11am. Amazing! And as I mentioned, it’s not even properly sealed yet.

But while that was my idea for it at my house, I think I might give this one away to someone who has trouble affording to heat their home during the winter, so at least they could have heat during the day. I have to do a few more tweaks, and finish the back, but other than that, it’s a solidly-built, indestructible free heat source that should go far to keep someone warm…during the day. Unfortunately, the moon just doesn’t shine bright enough to power it. ;)

Thinking of building one of your own for your workshop, garage, or even house? Let me know if I can help. It was quite a lot of work, but totally worth it in the end to know that I built a source of free heat that actually works!
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Offline TimSuggs

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Cool idea Roswell !  A +1 in the right pocket for ya!  You know you can cash them in when you get a 1000 for unique and exciting prizes don't ya?

Tim.
Tim Suggs
Birmingham, AL. USA!
Murder Capital of the South

Offline Roswell

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Thanks, Tim.  I can't take credit though.  If I can salvage an old window off freecycle though I'll be sure to post my pics.



So... like what kind of prizes? If you are thinking of getting me something I like money and guns  :D
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Offline TimSuggs

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Thanks, Tim.  I can't take credit though.  If I can salvage an old window off freecycle though I'll be sure to post my pics.

So... like what kind of prizes? If you are thinking of getting me something I like money and guns  :D

Take the credit for the "share" my friend.  It's that little unselfish act of sharing what you find out there with all of us here that makes this place like "family" to me.

When you get close to that 1000, let me know and we'll talk "prizes" <grin>

I was just looking at some "homemade" plans for a solar water still that involved a glass patio door that I think is the answer to my BOL clean water problem.

Tim.

Tim Suggs
Birmingham, AL. USA!
Murder Capital of the South

Offline Stinkie Archer

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Great find Roswell!!! I've seen commercial designs for larger models, but nothing this small and easy do DIY..


From a friend: Benjamin Franklin once said that beer is proof that God loves us.
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Offline Bloodyboots

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Awesome Find Roswell, the preschool near my house was just getting new windows, and after talking to the folks putting in the new ones, they gladly agreed to drop off the old ones at my house in exchange for some home brew!

Gonna try this idea to heat my garage this fall and if it works perhaps the kitchen will get a new heat vent!

Offline Roswell

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nice!  post pics if you do it bloody boots.

I am glad my addiction to the internet can help my friends benefit    :)
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Offline thefishingangler

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2009, 11:59:08 AM »
Excellent.

I just came on here to the DYI section to ask if someone knew of a way to cheaply heat my new greenhouse that I built (I will post the pictures when I find out how) and look what I found. I'm at 0 degrees Celsius last night.

I think that I just found myself a project this weekend.

How are you going to seal it better Roswell?
Thanks for reading this post.

Thefishingangler

Offline Roswell

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2009, 10:09:27 PM »
Excellent.

I just came on here to the DYI section to ask if someone knew of a way to cheaply heat my new greenhouse that I built (I will post the pictures when I find out how) and look what I found. I'm at 0 degrees Celsius last night.

I think that I just found myself a project this weekend.

How are you going to seal it better Roswell?

I think any good outdoor window sealant will do fine. A tube runs like $3.50 and can be found at pretty much any hardware store.

You can post a picture by using the insert image button and inserting the url from an external site.  For more detailed instructions go to the thread below.
http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=756.0
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Offline onesureshot

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2009, 03:13:12 PM »
This project interests me in a couple ways. First, I could use it in my unattached garage to give it a little heat in the winter. As I looked it over, I wondered about trying to come up with a way to use it in the house. What if you took a south facing window, put the cans on the sill, then put a couple layers of cardboard over the window opening on the inside, with the two holes on the bottom to draw air ir, and a single hole at the top to let the warm air out? I think you would need to figure out a way to keep the bottoms of the can up off the sill to allow air flow, or I guess you could drill a few holes in the sides of the bottom row of cans to let the air in that way too.

Time to start saving a few cans for some experimenting....

Offline thefishingangler

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2009, 12:10:05 PM »
I've been trying to think how I can use this to warm my house and thought about maybe hooking this up and running a flexible pipe through a pet door in my sliding door. There's some things on the market but, I'm trying to think of what I can do without dropping $200 dollars http://idealpetproduct.com/shop/item.asp?itemid=83&catid=4.

Anyone know how I can do this without dropping a small fortune. I'm also a bit worried to keep the critters out - maybe I could put the flap midway up??

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.
Thanks for reading this post.

Thefishingangler

Offline Roswell

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2009, 08:53:50 PM »
I've been trying to think how I can use this to warm my house and thought about maybe hooking this up and running a flexible pipe through a pet door in my sliding door. There's some things on the market but, I'm trying to think of what I can do without dropping $200 dollars http://idealpetproduct.com/shop/item.asp?itemid=83&catid=4.

Anyone know how I can do this without dropping a small fortune. I'm also a bit worried to keep the critters out - maybe I could put the flap midway up??

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

Does it have to be a pet door? or can you just cut a hole?  If it is a permanent installation you could cut a hole and just hook it up with some dryer coupling like below.
http://www.thegoodhuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/duct.jpg

Also, here is a cheaper door that is supposed to be really energy efficient. If you are afraid of pests than you could just cut a pice of wood to slide over it at night.

http://www.petsolutions.com/default.aspx?ItemId=29810984&EID=SZ29810984&SID=SHZIL
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Offline mxitman

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2009, 09:19:19 PM »
I built something like this out of an old sliding door, but instead of aluminum soda cans I used black abs pipe, works great!. I think even a empty box painted black would work.
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I'd rather have it and not need it, than not have it when I do need it.

Offline thefishingangler

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2009, 06:56:04 PM »
Does it have to be a pet door? or can you just cut a hole?  If it is a permanent installation you could cut a hole and just hook it up with some dryer coupling like below.
http://www.thegoodhuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/duct.jpg

Also, here is a cheaper door that is supposed to be really energy efficient. If you are afraid of pests than you could just cut a piece of wood to slide over it at night.

http://www.petsolutions.com/default.aspx?ItemId=29810984&EID=SZ29810984&SID=SHZIL

I think that I'm going to try and build this out of wood, maybe a white french door. I'm going to figure it out with my friend on Thursday.

About the box though, if I were to make this out of wood (no old windows unfortunately) how deep would the box need to be? 5"?

If you get a chance to let me know I would appreciate it. I picked up 4 panes of glass this weekend from Freecycle and I'm itching to stop paying the Gasman.

Thanks in advance.
Thanks for reading this post.

Thefishingangler

Offline Roswell

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2009, 07:12:24 PM »
I think that I'm going to try and build this out of wood, maybe a white french door. I'm going to figure it out with my friend on Thursday.

About the box though, if I were to make this out of wood (no old windows unfortunately) how deep would the box need to be? 5"?

If you get a chance to let me know I would appreciate it. I picked up 4 panes of glass this weekend from Freecycle and I'm itching to stop paying the Gasman.

Thanks in advance.

"5 should be fine. Just make sure the glass isn't too far away from the cans. If that space is too large then it won't work as efficiently as it could otherwise.
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Offline thefishingangler

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2009, 07:34:51 PM »
Will do.

Thanks.
Thanks for reading this post.

Thefishingangler

Offline jr doyle

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2012, 02:38:05 AM »
i built a small one (for test purposes) out of completely reclaimed materials. cans, pallet wood and an old window+frame for free on craigslist. i pretty much built a rectangle box with the window sealed on one side of it. inside i had 2 manifolds, one 4" from the bottom and one 4" from the top. those manifolds had 2" holes drilled in them where a stack of cans fit nicely into. i glued the cans together an painted flat black. on the back of the box there were 3 inlet holes along the bottom and 4 along the top. i placed this in a south facing window in the winter (when we're lucky enough to get sun) and it worked surprisingly well for it' simplicity. i have since sold it to a friend who thought i was crazy until he witnessed the 90 or so degrees it produced. if we got more sun here in the nw i'd like to a large one on the roof piped into the ducting of my house. maybe i'll build another small one and post in diy???
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Offline onesojourner

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2012, 02:10:18 PM »
onesojourner's soda can solar heater

Edited by Nicodemus to bring into line with forum policies. Even when you post links to other threads in the TSPF, please start labeling or describing what the links lead to everyone. Thank You.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 04:47:52 PM by Nicodemus »

Offline Perfesser

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2012, 04:39:17 PM »
I don't know if ABS pipe is such a good idea, even if it doesn't get hot enough to melt it it could be off gassing something nasty.
If not pop cans then possibly 3" aluminum dryer duct might work well if painted black.

I always thought in the summer you could pipe the heat into your dehydrator box and then heat the house with it in the winter.
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Offline onesojourner

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2012, 09:01:08 AM »
Small gutter downspouts are what I am going to do next time. Soda cans are way to time consuming.

Offline Burton

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2012, 09:14:10 AM »
Do you have to duct it? Would a simple black painted box with vents at bottom and top be just as effective?

Also looking at your previous post I can't see how your getting the air out of the box into the house. Did you mount the intake on the back of the unit mid length or did you mount it at the top?

It would be neat to make some small scale models to see what other designs might produce more air flow and or higher temperatures much like the guys who build rocket mass heaters.

Offline onesojourner

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2012, 09:23:03 AM »
The intake is on the bottom along with a 12v van and power supply. The fan and nature of hot air forces the air through the cans and back into the house out the top.

Offline Perfesser

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2012, 01:44:54 PM »
You have to have something inside the box to act as an absorber plate for the air to pass over and pick up the heat. The more surface area that plate has the more heat it will transfer to your transfer fluid, in this case, air. You want something that is a good conductor of heat as that plate. Aluminum is cheap and works well. Plastic is more of an insulator than a conductor.

Cans work well because you can cut little air diverters in the ends and create turbulence at every joint and help pick up the heat off the body of the cans.
If you're using long tubes you can slide a wrinkled piece of heavy foil or a helix bent strip of sheet metal or the like inside the tube to create turbulence.
Anyone ever looked inside the pipe of a gas water heater? There's a spiral shaped strip of metal inside to get the heat to brush against the wall of the tube. Same idea.
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Offline onesojourner

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2013, 07:59:47 AM »
aluminum nails or screw poked throught aluminum downspouts is my plan.

Offline blueyedmule

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Re: Free Heat (/or solar dehydrator) From An Old Window And Some Soda Cans.
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2013, 12:00:27 PM »
I can see how this would be fantastic in regions where in the winter there are plenty of clear skies--cold/clear, like Boise, ID, or out in Montana. I wonder if I would get much out of it, though, in western Oregon where we get nothing but drizzle, low clouds, and lots of rain from fall through sometimes early summer??
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Offline tacticalzigzag

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« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2013, 09:43:45 PM »
If this doesn't belong here feel free to move but I thought I would share.

http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2007/04/26/almost-free-garage-heat-just-drink-a-lot-of-soda/#more-3769
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