Picture of $6 Solar Fan
Recently I saw a commercial for a car vent that ran on solar power. It seemed like a good idea, but outrageously overpriced. The one on TV was $15 + S&H. Online they run as high as $40. I decided I could build one that was more functional and for under $10. The outcome is not exactly a looker, but it works and only cost $6.

Step 1: Collect Your Materials

Picture of Collect Your Materials
First of all, you must collect the materials you will need. This project is very simple and requires only a few items.

1 Solar Light -- These can be bought from Wal*Mart and most home improvement stores. They're the kind that you stick in the ground. They charge during the day and shine a small light during the night. You can buy them in singles or in packs. If you are going to buy in bulk, try ebay, as they will be cheaper. If you are only buying one or two, ebay is not a good option because of the shipping costs.

1 Small (personal) Fan -- These can be found just about anywhere for less than a dollar. I happen to have an old one sitting around, so it was free for me. Ask your friends if they have an old hand-held fan that they don't use anymore before buying a new one.

You'll need something to construct the ducting. I used duct tape and a vacuum attachment, but in another step I'll offer a way to make ducting out of just duct tape.

You may also want a couple of switches and some spare wire, and possibly some weather striping, but it isn't necessary. As with many projects, make sure you have plenty of common sense before starting this project!

The only tools I used were a soldering iron, a pair of scissors, wire stripers, and duct tape.
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why attach a vacum to a light?
It's not a light anymore, try reading the article.
I'd really like to make a version without the battery, using a solar panel attached to a reflective front window shade. Of course, the fan would only run when it's sunny, but thats the only time I really need the ventilation, (central CA summers see 100+ degrees daily!). Plus, you could leave your car for extended periods, i.e. airport parking lot. I have a harbor frieght solar pannel #44768 puts out 12V DC @ 1.5 Watts. I was originaly thinking computer fan, but don't know if the pannels got enough juice. Any ideas? In my region, I'm afraid I'm gonna need some serious CFM. Is it possible to wire, in series, a bunch of the solar panels (from the solar lights) together to get more power?
Computer fans don't use much power at all. Check into the Silenx 120mm fans. They move something like 68 CFM. There is a Thermaltake 120mm fan that RadioShack sells which moves even more air than that.
sucoplus6 years ago
It would be better if instead of installing this UFO (unknown fan object) we would try to use the fan system that the car already have, and try to attach some circuit and solar power to it.
wierdale246 years ago
why didnt you use a computer fan?you can get cheap one for 2 dollars off ebay and they pull alot more air than that toy fan.
TheYetti6 years ago
This is very nice. I am curious as to how it works though.....
The Aptera uses the high end version of this setup. The top of the vehicle has a solar panel which powers a fan which vents the heat out of the back of the vehicle. As far as your device, I've seen the original and this was a good response for saving a few bucks. You've got me thinking of a sleeker, although possibly more expensive, version for my car. As my car has a gigantic windshield, I'm considering mounting solar panel(s) along the upper portion (which even with its slight factory tint shouldn't interfere) of the windshield. I'd run the vent fan out somewhere else, though, like under the hood. With older vehicles, like some trucks and jeeps, they had those manual vents on the sides which would be a perfect place for the fans. With the sheer size of my car, I have considered making the roof into a solar panel to augment a series of batteries for any accessories I might install.
Are you sure it was 180 degrees? Isnt that a little harmful to your health?
Could you use a pc fan? I'm not sure what the power output of the panel is. I might try it at home this weekend.
saites2001 (author)  RG_Shrike7 years ago
Well, I don't know what most PC fans run at, so I couldn't say for sure. I wouldn't connect the solar panel directly to the fan, though. If you do, you'll only power the fan when light is hitting it, and that power will be related to the amount of light hitting the panel. The method presented above relies on charging a battery via solar power and then running a fan off of that.
12v DC
Some can be 5vdc.
saites2001 (author)  JustListenToMe7 years ago
Oops, changed. I can't believe I didn't notice this comment waaay earlier. Thanks.
n3ldan9 years ago
The ad I saw said the control was 107, and the cooled one was 75.
StratMan n3ldan8 years ago
Where I work, I've seen car windows actually shatter from extreme heat. And all they had to do was simply keep the windows open 1/4 or even 1/8th of an inch, and there would be no pressure build-up, and any breeze outside would keep the air circulated enough to make SOME difference. Then again, where I live happens to be a hig-crime area, and any opening in your car invites trouble... hehe
I seriously doubt 'pressure buildup' has anything to do with it. Cars are not air tight.
REDNEK7777 years ago
how many wats dose it consume
fox3117 years ago
nice fan there
skitzo7 years ago
You should use Kydex for your housing on that. you can mold it with heat and then screw in your solar panel into it. Kydex is highly durable and makes the product look decent. the other thing. most of the time you can pick one of these lights for free if you keep any eye out. ;-). Kydex can be used for several diffident applications that you may find on Instructables.
i like this idea but i agree wth some of the comments that i can't imagine it works much better than just cracking the window and letting the wind do the work. i would seriously question any data on a commercial website trying to sell me something. has anyone ever seen a peltier CPU cooler used in conjuction with a solar panel to remove heat from a car?

I was looking at this panel:

and this cpu cooler:

but I don't have $400+ to experiment with it. But if it saved you 1 mpg (20,000 miles/year @ 25 mpg and $2/gal of gas), it would take ~ 7 years to pay for itself which is a way better return than for home solar energy systems. The only thing I question is whether or not 50 BTU/hr is enough to keep a car sufficiently cool. probably is if used in conjuction with solar shades for the windows.
First, just cracking the window to let the air out does not cool the air enough in a car. Second, in Michigan, there is often no wind at all in the summer to help with cooling. Third, a peltier junction is cool on one side, hot on another, thus the net effect of cooling using a peltier is zero. So, yes, I'd really like to make one of these that works. The one I bought (see my post above) broke after a month.
pinoymale7 years ago
Your solar fan is a great idea. The only thing I'm worried about is that you would have to leave a gap in your window to vent out hot air. This small gap may be enough for a car thief to gain access to your car.
ricers would have a field day as that roof scoop could have a use but i always thought about one of those air impeller things vans have
rianscott8 years ago
back in 1989 Me, in little old england was the proud owner of a Farmont solar II, a sunroof tilt and slide, patented wormdrive i thing the wording was, incorporating a solar panel and fan (plus roller blinds). The solar panel actually clipped out so you could use it as a power source outside the car!. I just found an old ebay auction for one, heres the link , don't know how long it will stay up http://cgi.ebay.de/Sonnendach-Glashubdach-Schiebedach-Hubdach-Dachhaube_W0QQitemZ250148966749QQihZ015QQcategoryZ65055QQcmdZViewItem

I paid around £350 for this to be fitted to my first car which was only worth £700 for the car! (what a fool I was). but this thing was wicked, it kept the car cool when parked in the sun and when I sold the car, i clipped out the solar panel and it's last trip was to thailand in 2005, (at which point I threw it away because it was only giving minimal voltage in bright sunshine so it had done its day.

Ohh the days I had more money than sense

If only I had saved my money, I might be able to afford that vw camper I dream about now, enough to ask strangers for £1 towards it at www.buymeacamper.com . There doesn't seem to be any other mention on the net about the farmont solar II. I think it was on the market before Britain got the world wide web ! (about 2004 I think Britain got internet :O) well at least it feels like it!)
engrmurad8 years ago
In your solar fan for cars has some problem or u didnt think that way .is it absolutely waterproof and shockproof? & can be attached also to the cigarette lighter........is it?
again i ask how do u personaly know that it works if you personaly have not tried it???
this link shows a pretty good instructable for a solar-powered fan set that reads like it truly works, using computer case fans.


good luck.

im thingy of trying a power take-off from the lighter just to cut the solar-panel costs.

skids9278 years ago
Add in a thermoelectric cooler and it would turn this piece of junk into an actual air conditioner. Best thing is that it can be reversed, to heat your car in the winter. Look them up on ebay, they are cheap.
saites2001 (author)  skids9278 years ago
That's pretty neat! However, it would require about 5 of these together to power the thing, and it may require other components as well. The idea of a solar powered fridge seems really neat, though.
rockman998 years ago
I want to use the device to cool my out door shed. Will a computer fan work?
yes, although it may be too weak
Slantedvu8 years ago
There'a a product called the"Fan-attic" or something-a solar powered attic ventilation fan-I think there are several types out now. For larger vehicles (vans, SUVs) that you didn't mind chopping a hole through the roof(older), this might work better. It should move more cfm, and would be positioned higher where the heat would be. Or perhaps mock something up from a roof vent, a computer fan and a small solar panel. Or just run it off vehicle power with a thermostat(clixon switch). It shoudn't pull much juice.
Junkernaut8 years ago
I will say that this homade device is cooler looking than the Tv one. Maybe somone could come up with a device that vents hot air from the cars own air ducts and runs off of one of those car jumper batteries.
Junkernaut8 years ago
I live in south florida and Ive been in a car with one of those things. It didnt make a $15 dollar difference in the air temp and you have to leave your window open. The best bet for a car thats going to be in sun for an extended period is thos reflective shades, ive got one over the front window of my pt cruiser and it lowers the temp from about 120 deg F to about 85 deg F
Junkernaut8 years ago
I live in south florida and Ive been in a car with one of those things. It didnt make a $15 dollar difference in the air temp and you have to leave your window open. The best bet for a car thats going to be in sun for an extended period is thos reflective shades, ive got one over the front window of my pt cruiser and it lowers the temp from about 120 deg F to about 85 deg F
i think that you could posibly use a stronger voleg wiyh the light.
why did you use such a big solar panel?
that is a very good question and i totaly agree!!
did u make this? and how did u get a picture as your avi?
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