Foil Solar Panels for Windows (VERY Easy) Build one an hour!

Picture of Foil Solar Panels for Windows (VERY Easy) Build one an hour!

Ohio Mike introduces this project by video.


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I was watching my first video again originally describing the project and discovered this...

The day I made this video the highs were in the teens. I would hope you would agree that in the most well insulated house the furnace would come on at least a couple times even on a sunny day because the house does not have sunlight heating items in side a North room.

If you would... look at the video at the 5:50 second mark of the first video and pause it. You should notice the thermostat set at 65 degrees, which is where we keep our house to keep heating bills down.

Now... even though the thermostat is set at 65 it shows the temperature at 70 plus degrees. .. the thermostat is in a North room in my house... The reason for the increase is I have the fan turned "on" to allow air circulation throughout the whole house from the room being heated with the panels... can the naysayers explain that away?


This panel is only 3/4 of an inch thick and weighs in at less than three pounds. On a partly cloudy day the black foil collector reached about 150 degrees (during the sunny times). The film front only felt warm to the touch and the aluminum flashing on the back of the panel only made it to 98 degrees.

This type of solar panel (like most) only work if you have south facing windows; and of course, a little sun helps. But the nice thing about these panels... They are VERY easy to make and hang "INSIDE" your window where you don't need to concern yourself with zoning codes or big ugly boxes hanging on the side on your house. A plus, you can take them down in the summer; also, because of their design... you can use these in apartments and condos.

The design... there are virtually no size limits, allows you to custom size them to fit "ANY" window and they allow for light to come through around the edges.

The panel is without any electrical or mechanical parts and they work fine with its natural rising of heat through the back chamber of the panel. To aid the distribution of the heat rising to the ceiling in your room is to add a (SMALL) fan pointing to the ceiling to circulate the air or better yet, if you have one, you can place the fan on something like a bookcase with the fan facing down.

Another option for better circulation (throughout the home) add fans to pull the heat from the main room to other rooms in each doorway and set the fans to their absolute lowest settings.

Yet another option... turn your thermostat's fan to on so the furnace fan runs all the time; this will allow for the best circulation throughout the house... put it back to auto at night.

The only hard to find part of this panel is the Cinefoil which can be bought from my website
Let's get started...


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OhMike (author) 3 years ago
Those small solar panels I made work... got my gas bill today. Last months payment (during a warmer cycle - December) was $131... this month (during a colder cycle - January) was only $126.

Last year usage was 5.5ccf this year is 4.1ccf

lillianwf OhMike2 months ago

I would love to make some but can't see the photos to get the idea of how it is suppose to look and work

Dr.Bill OhMike1 year ago
Sorry, pictures still not working.
OhMike (author) 3 years ago
No disrespect to the very smart people out there, but in here lays the problem...

This project is not intended to be scientific or an engineering feat. It is a simple project that works.

And is for the not so mechanically inclined, it allows the average person to be able to experiment in this technology at a low cost.
incidentals3 years ago
I noticed you are trying for a PATENT.. You Cannot tell anyone about an idea and expect to gain such a thing! If anyone else can say they know about it the patent falls...

Anyway nice vids and the quantative reasearch was great... There have been a lot of solar/air based systems on the web, a lot of them are based on "black" causing the heat to fall out of the air. The use of black netting in a window will warm up a room on its own and allow you to see through it to the garden/view..

Might I suggest you build your box using a mesh with both sides see through,that way you can see through and force the convection process.

Just a thought

What kind of black netting are you talking about? I assume that because you didn't specify anything that black screen door net will work or maybe even landscape net. Is my assumption correct?

any dark material will absorb the energy from the sunlight... a simple dark netting will cause the energy to be dropped out of the light passing through... the thicker the better, but a black door screen would be fine! you want to be able to see out of the window and the holes in the mesh lets the air push the heat out into the room.

Galonii4 days ago

the photos on your page the link must be broken, and your video says it's private and only shows static. have you taken this down?

phall01064 days ago

SHTF Preparedness linked to this, but I'm really disappointed that the instructional video is not longer available and the pics aren't there. I'd love to know more about it.

gsavage14 days ago

I would love to make this project but none of the pictures are showing so It may be a bit tough to follow the instructions.

LyeG26 days ago

I dont see any images. Would love to make this tho!!

Isaiahs31 month ago

so what you have is two window screens put together with the foil in between and the flashing on the back!

Truehart2 years ago
I just wanted to give a friendly bump to say that your pictures were no longer working.
OhMike (author)  Truehart2 years ago
Thank you!!!! I fixed it ~ MikeM

OhMike, still no pics, I REALLY need this. Ohio is very cold (as you would know, and I'm in northeast Ohio, so we get all the lake effect snow, too!), and my windows are terrible, house is always chilly, and ALLLLLLL my windows face the south! I have been searching for weeks, and this is my best choice, but with no pics, I have nothing to go on except what I imagine. Please post pics?

I don't see any images......
You're very welcome and thanks. Now I can attempt making one of these.

I think I can make this myself but would REALLY appreciate the pictures being available so I can get a better idea of how this all goes together!

Ok .. consider this - if the sun gives away aprox - 1kw pr/ m2 .. ok

Thats the most you can harvest with the perfect set up.

Ok consider this then - the sun shines on your windows,depending on the type of glass in them they will let in only some of the 1000w/m2 ... lets say they let in 800watts ... and the window is exactly 1m2 ...

How will you explain that buy putting up an absorber behind the window will raise this effect ?? the 800watts will enter the room and be absorbed by the floor, furnitures ect ect ... - so I dont understand why you think u harvest more energy this way - its impossible :-)...

Only think is the energy is condensed in the absorber/panel you use...

ivan_s3 years ago
excellent idea¡¡¡¡

I have been looking for a thin solar panel design. Why no pictures? Legal issues with sharing them? I think I can make this panel with the typed instructions. However, not all instructions are complete as they are intended to have the pictures as a visual aide. Can you please post the pictures?

OhMike (author)  ivan_s3 years ago
Thank you!
mgharri5010 months ago

Can you get the pictures fixed...please!

dondi210 months ago
what are flutes?
mgharri501 year ago
I still do not see any pictures. I would love to build this for this winter, but would like to see the pictures to help with the build.
ict4ngo1 year ago
We can't see the images because they are linked

and probably disapeared from there
pics of all the steps being done would be very helpful as well. there are lots an lots off pple learn by seeing some thing done in a picture vs steps typed out.
i hate to type this but it not a pv solar panel at all. its a heat siphon panel. please correct this!
jon_chalk1 year ago
Most of the pictures are missing. I refreshed my browser a few times. Only the top images and the two videos are visible. The others show as broken links.
Sweez1 year ago
are all the pictures from the steps gone just for me????
You don't need to all these complicated thing!!!
Just buy a Solar Panel at cheapest rate
from here DIY Solar Panels 
Do you punch holes at both ends of the flashing?
kompressor2 years ago
Hey Mike, very nice instructable! I really like your spirit of pushing for simplicity in the implementation. This got me thinking about whether we can make the system even simpler and cheaper --

I'm thinking about buying this pack of black foam board from Amazon

Then, I'd hang it using the same suction method you showed us, and putting a spacer between the foam board and the window. That's it.

By skipping the step of creating a frame and putting plastic sheeting over it, I believe that we simplify the construction process a lot. I posit that both of our approaches still have the same net heat conversion per unit area. My approach would not have as high of a temperature for the output air, but there should be great flux in air movement.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts and invite you to poke holes in my approach.
So you have my attention, did it work and what kind of heat did you get? My friends in Iowa are with out heat and need something to work fast. Would this work for them? And how did it heat as they will have to use it the whole winter. Did you put holes in the top kind of like the other guy? How did you vent for cool air in send my something about it so they can use it fast
Joesmania2 years ago
Excellent Instructable Mike!
I like the low-cost, easily accomplishable concept here. I think some of the nay-sayers just need to listen as you explain that this is not meant to be some exotic and super high tech (hard to do) contraption. It is a simple project with a simple design, on purpose. I like how light and easy to move they are too, which is something to consider before anybody goes and builds some with water or soap-stones inside. You will want to wash your windows and dust the sills sooner or later. Simple, light, economical, practical, and usefull, these are the goals of this project, and you have hit the mark in every catagory. I think your design is superb, and thank you Sir, for sharing it with us. 5 stars & double thumbs up!
Ondra782 years ago
Thanks for your instructable, the inspiration for me.
I am working on an outdoor collector.
The absorber is corrugated sheet. The frame is drywall profile UW 125
Glazing is a plastic plate Akrylon.
Insulation is Styrodur.
Area for heat transfer is about 2 square meters.
Ondra78 Ondra782 years ago
Solar Air Heater - SAH01 - prototype.png
REA3 years ago
You said in the first video you were going to get a patent. Might I suggest registering it as Open Source (either with GPL or the OSHL). Using an Open Source license allows others free access to the design without having to go through ugly copyrights or other things that would scare away most people. It also allows for others to build off your work, with credit of course. This project would definitely be a benefit to a lot of people.
roz3923 years ago
What exactly is that window film. Most window films reduce heat don't they? Wouldn't you want as much heat through as you can get?
OhMike (author)  roz3923 years ago
The film allows for the panel to not loose its collected heat as fast.

The whole idea is to allow the chamber behind the film to hold the heat the foil captures and then only allow a small amount to escape through the opening at the top.
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