DIY Solar Heat Panel- Part 1 of 2


The pop can solar panel. Ever heard of it?! Me either but I now have one stuck to the side of my house. Thanks to that wonderful man I married, aka the Husband.

Here is how the story starts, we are cheap and drink a lot of pop. Hahaha! Ok so that is just part of how the story starts, it really began with the husbands want to try this crazy idea of turning pop cans into a source of heat. He had come across some ideas of doing this while he was playing on google one day.

Have you ever worn a black jacket and sat in the sun with it on? If you have you will know that black draws the heat to you even when it’s cold out. Simple idea in theory, but always wearing black and standing in the windows in the sun might creep out the neighbors!

Here is how it goes:(Written by the Husband)

My Dad was in on the plan as well. First, we needed the materials. Of course, the cheaper the better – always good to re-purpose! Dad knew someone replacing their patio doors – perfect for us – the old doors would make a perfect panel. A 4’x8’ sheet of treated 3/8” plywood would be the back of the panel. A few 1”x8” pieces of wood, a lot of pop cans (Pepsi were the best LOL), some contact cement from the dollar store, screws, some wire, black paint, and sandpaper.

We rough sanded the pop cans – just enough to get the paint to stick to them. Before painting them, I used a manual can opener to remove the top of the cans, which worked very nicely – did not leave a sharp edge at all. Then we drilled holes in the bottom of the cans kind of at random – not sure how big or how many would be best – 2 to 3 holes with a ¼” drill bit is what we used. Next, I contact cemented the tops and bottoms of the cans, let them dry for a few minutes, then stacked them together about 6 high. After the dried, we painted them a flat black. I found spray paint work easiest. Flat black would absorb heat better than gloss black.

Now, to hold the cans in place inside the panel, I used a drill with a hole saw attached sized to fit the bottom of a can.

Next was the frame. We framed the whole outside of the 4×8 sheet of plywood, then measured and centered the reused patio door and made a frame for it to rest on, using the previously holed boards for the top and bottom for the glass. That was the fun part, trying to line up the cans into the holes in the wood and glue them into place – the more airtight the better, all while screwing the frame together. Diagram below shows the front, with the inlet and outlet holes.

In order to get the air to flow in the direction I wanted, I put a board diagonally across the top and bottom of the cans. Also, very importantly I drilled a cool air inlet hole in the bottom of the panel at the back and a warm air outlet hole at the top on the back of the panel.

Next post: How to install the DIY Heat Solar Heat Panel

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