DIY Solar Projects Part 1: Build a Solar Heater Using Recycled Cans

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A few months ago we did an article about Cansolair Inc’s brilliant solar home heating solution that uses recycled aluminum cans in a forced convection solar heating unit. These units work by pulling cool air from a room, passing it through a panel of aluminum cans that are heated by the sun, and blowing the heated air back into the room.

DIY aluminum can solar heater

Just about anyone can make one of these heaters, and they can be constructed from mostly recycled materials. This is a fairly simple project for DIY’ers that can be used to heat a home, a greenhouse, a camper, a garage, a cabin, or just about anything else you can think of.

Once the unit is built, all you need is an outside wall for it to sit against that will get plenty of sun.  As long as the sun is shining, you will have free heat with little to no maintenance costs.

Here are a few videos with step-by-step instructions showing how you can make one of these heaters yourself: Peter Rowan created this unit for heating his backyard writing studio using 275 cans.  He reports that the unit almost provides too much heat when the sun is shining on it.  On cloudy days it is not as effective, but still raises the temperature inside his studio several degrees above the outside air temperature.

This heater is smaller, using only 60 cans, and was designed to sit indoors in a south-facing window for heating a 10′ x 12′ room.

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Here is another slightly larger one that is achieving some pretty amazing results, even though it is sitting inside the house.

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As you can see, this method of creating a solar heater using recycled cans is pretty simple and can be scaled up or down depending on the size of the space you need to heat.  What a great alternative to electric space heaters!

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