DIY Solar Panels - Air Heaters Made of Pop Cans





Introduction: DIY Solar Panels - Air Heaters Made of Pop Cans

It is really easy and simple to build cheap pop can DIY solar panels for supplemental home heating, by re-using scrap parts and empty pop cans. Pop can diy solar panels are actually thermal panels that heat and recirculate the air inside the room. Water, or any kind of liquid is not used here, which makes these panels resilient to extremely low temperatures and winter freezing accidents.

Solar absorbent / collector is crafted using empty beer and soda aluminum cans, painted in matte-black paint resistant to high temperature. The upper part (cover) of cans is specifically designed to provide more efficiency in heat exchange between the cans and the passing air.

Housing for solar collector is made of wood (plywood 15mm), while its front is 3 mm (0.12 inches) Plexiglas/polycarbonate (you can use tempered glass as well). The back of the case set is made of 20mm rock wool (or styrodur) insulation.

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I made a similar system, but also with a very intelligent controller (with a webserver on a Raspberry PI). So you get a graph on the temperatures, and it is controllable by a smartphone. I put the pictures on


Can anyone tell me whether this works best *outside the building and feeding in*, or are they just as good *inside* on a window sill? Also, is it best to suck in air from inside the house rather than outside?

can i know whits the benefit for soda can and if i make it just almunum pipe

Paint the box black,eliminate the cans and the fan and you have a trome wall that would be just as efficient , if not more.

Wow, what a nice large solar air heater! I designed mine using a different principle - mounting on the inside of my window. However wow, yours can be built and scaled as large as you want! mine is limited by my window size. Here is my setup if u r interested:

I've been checking out various designs and really like yours.
A couple questions:
1) Is there are reason not to 'chain' the cans together so they are all one long connected tube, with u type joints? Would over heating be a problem?
2) I live in Canada so if I can store the heat for use after dark that would be ideal. So, have you thought or known anyone to try including a radiant system within the pop can heater?
Thanks for your thoughts.

I believe the idea behind orienting them in this manner is to keep as much volume in one, self insulating mass; therefore reducing the external surface area that would lead to heat loss. When they are run in parallel, the sides that would normally loose heat in a continuous chain are in face adjacent to other collectors.
I'd imagine the more "square" the structure is, the more thermally efficient it would be.

I wonder what health risks might come from breathing the air that the hot aluminum cans produce. Or is aluminum dangerous only when you burn it? Like when you cook with foil or smoke out of a can.

I wonder if you could use water as the insulator to keep the panel warm through the night. Collected rain water could be added at the same rate of evaporation, through a self watering dog bowl apparatus like an upside down liter bottle with the bottom cut off placed at the water level. The evaporated water could be collected. But I wonder if this would have issues in temperatures below freezing.