How to Make a Solar Powered Cat House Out of a 19 Gallon Tote

6,012

68

27

Introduction: How to Make a Solar Powered Cat House Out of a 19 Gallon Tote

About: Just an entrepreneur making my way up the ladder

This is how I made my Solar Powered Cat House out of a 76 Qt Tote.

Supplies

  • Sterilite 76 Qt. Stacker Box Taupe Splash ($10 at Walmart)
  • Reflectix BP24010 Series Foil Insulation, 24 in. x 10 ft ($13 on eBay)
  • Gorilla Spray Glue ($6 at Walmart)
  • 50 ct. Solar Lights ($7 at Dollar General Store)
  • Silicone Caulk & Caulk Gun ($4 at Walmart)

Step 1: Find a Plastic Tote

I wanted to keep the budget for the box itself around $10 bucks so I picked up this 76 Quart plastic tote for $9.95 at Walmart. I initially wanted a bigger one, but since this was all they had I had to settle for this size.

There was one that was only $4 online and it was a Sterilite, 45 Gal/170 L Wheeled Latch Tote, Christmas ( much bigger) but there was none in the store so I would have to order online then pick up in the store and I didn't want to wait.

Step 2: The Cat Entrance

You can do this in several different ways. You don't need a cat door as we used here.

You can just cut a hole and add some plastic flaps over the doorway. Just make sure the opening is at least 5 1/2 inches so the cat can fit through.

But we had a cat door that was given to us, so I used it for the box. After cutting the box to match the door I used (4) 32 X 1 3/4 in. machine screws and nuts to tighten the door to the box then silicone up all the cracks and edges. Found these at Walmart for $0.97 for 8 screws.

I drilled 2 small holes on the very top of the swinging door for ventilation (shown in picture).

Step 3: Add the Lights and Foil Insulation to the Lid for Heat in the Winter

I bought some foil insulation from eBay for $13 to use for the inside lid and the inside of the box.

I also found a $7 dollar string of 50 Solar Lights. It may provide a bit of heat for the box on cold nights. Plus it's solar so it charges during the day and only comes on at dark. There is an on-off switch to turn this off in the summer or hotter times of the year.

I drilled two holes with a 1/4 in drill bit through the top of the lid and foil insulation. One hole was to feed the lights through one at a time. (the only way to do this).

The second hole was for the last light to put through in the middle to go back outside the box as seen in the images. This light is just an indication for me to let me know if the lights are on at night and are working.

There is a rechargeable battery inside the solar light that can be changed out when needed. But it charges by the sun during the day. And it even charges on cloudy days it says.

After all the lights were fed into the lid, I taped each light down making sure all lights were pointing straight down and aligning them in a circle around the lid.

Then I taped down the foil insulations to the lid. I also put a blob of silicone to cover the two holes around the light and the cord for the solar panel.

Step 4: Add the Insulation Inside the Box

I bought some Gorilla Glue Spray Adhesive from Walmart for $6 and used it to spray the inside of the box and on each (cut to size) foil insulation piece to fit into the box starting with the floor.

Then I did the sides. Then I added two more layers to the floor to make it more comfortable.

I put the cat's food and blanket inside. Until he gets used to going in and out. Then I will put his food back outside the box. Some say to put straw inside, but here it doesn't get that cold and doesn't snow.

Plus, the cat door seals up really well so I think a blanket will be fine.

Later, I plan to build a wooden frame to put under the box to keep it off the ground as the door is kinda low and I don't water to get in if it rains a lot.

And I want to make a small roof in the shape of a pyramid so that rain doesn't collect on top of the lid because of the way the lid slopes inward.

UPDATE: So it rained the other day and the cat house leaked. The spot it leaked from was on the roof where it slopes in at the spots where I put blobs of silicone on the cords. I also notice from the get-go that this silicone in the tube might not have been what was on the label. It says "clear" written on the tube, but it was actually white as you can see from the pictures. So I don't know if there was a mix up at the factory on this one.

So I recommend getting a brand like the glue-type weather-resistant silicone. As this brand I bought didn't want to stick to the plastic very well. I just notice after it got wet I could move it around and it was soft, so that's how the water got in.

I would also recommend that you keep this cat house under a shelter (garage, patio, porch, anything with a roof) if you don't build a roof like I plan to do because of the way the roof is designed on this tote. It tends to collect water there.

NEXT STEPS: I will get the weather-resistant silicone and redo the two spots on the roof and just as a precaution measure will add some weather stripping to the top of the box just encase it may get leaks there between the lid and the box. Although it does seem to not leak from there as of right now.

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Anything Goes Contest 2021

      Anything Goes Contest 2021
    • New Year, New Skill Student Design Challenge

      New Year, New Skill Student Design Challenge
    • Raspberry Pi Contest

      Raspberry Pi Contest

    27 Comments

    0
    uncle reamus
    uncle reamus

    1 year ago

    Flip it upside down. The totes are usually much stronger than the lid and wont sag.

    0
    ronnierokk
    ronnierokk

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yeah maybe so, but I've already got all the lights on the lid. Would work well for the cat on the bottom where he lays. haha!

    But I do agree that the box is stronger that way. The only other thing is the water would also collect in the rim of the lid upside down and maybe cause water leaks if no weather stripping is applied.

    0
    SteveDay72
    SteveDay72

    1 year ago

    Nice cat house. I built a similar one for my local strays, though they hardly used it. I ended up cutting a hole in my garage door and installing a cat flap to keep them safe, warm & dry.

    It looks very cozy. I bet you end up with other animals wanting to sleep in it. They may have a squabble one night.

    The small low power LEDs don't give off any noticeable heat, because they're so efficient at converting electricity into light. It's only when you get the higher powered ones (above 1-Watt - which is far higher than the christmas light type, those are only around 0.13W) do they start getting warm. The higher power LEDs are mounted on heatsinks to prevent the chip/IC from burning out.


    AlleyCat Allies has a webpage of various cat shelters to take inspiration from. Down the p age are DIY versions with downloadable instructions...

    https://www.alleycat.org/resources/feral-cat-shelter-options-gallery/

    0
    ronnierokk
    ronnierokk

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi Steve.

    Thanks for the comment. I also think these particular lights may not give much heat, but I didn't want to go with a blanket or plug in one, because the only plug we have on the house is on the other side so solar was best for us. But anyway thanks again for leaving your thoughts.

    0
    rozzieozzie
    rozzieozzie

    1 year ago

    Your house kind of looks like the ones they recommend a person to make for feral cats. I made one once, put it under my rear porch and thought the local cat would be warm over the winter. He was, until his home was taken over by an opossum squatter! Had to throw the whole thing away when a big old possum died in there. Hope your house works out better for your cat! Nice instructions!

    0
    NirL
    NirL

    1 year ago

    I had to see why a cat house needs electricity 😂 thanks for sharing!

    0
    ronnierokk
    ronnierokk

    Reply 1 year ago

    hahaha, yeah. I hope it does add a lil heat for him on cold nights. It works well as you can see from this image.

    Cat House At Night.JPG
    0
    NirL
    NirL

    Reply 1 year ago

    very nice :) by the way, is it vented enough for a cat to live in? (just wondering where is the air coming from! )

    0
    ronnierokk
    ronnierokk

    Reply 1 year ago

    I thought I replyed to this one, but over the door that swings open and closed, I drilled 2 holes there for ventilation.

    0
    NirL
    NirL

    Reply 1 year ago

    You did reply! And I later saw you mentioned it in the text too, I just didn't see it in the pictures:)
    See you soon!:)

    0
    ronnierokk
    ronnierokk

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes! There are two vent holes where the door opens.

    0
    sylvain.de.crom
    sylvain.de.crom

    Question 1 year ago

    Looks great, but ehm, what is the purpose of a cat house?

    0
    TerryM140
    TerryM140

    Answer 1 year ago

    More to the point...where do you get a Solar Powered Cat?

    0
    demosthien
    demosthien

    1 year ago

    Maybe try something like Polyurethane (PU) construction adhesive/sealant rather than standard silicone or bathroom/kitchen sealant. It's a *much* more robust material and it is better suited to exposure to the elements. The stuff I use here in the UK is called CT1 and it can even be applied and sets while completely submerged in water. https://www.ct1.com

    0
    p_leriche
    p_leriche

    1 year ago

    I'd have thought a bit more ventilation would be needed if the cat isn't to wake up with a headache.
    A couple of years ago when my daughter brought her dog home with her for Christmas (the cat was NOT pleased!) I simply put the cat carrier in the greenhouse. He likes the greenhouse, especially on a sunny day. For insulation I simply covered it with an old blanket and cut polystyene ceiling tiles for the floor, with an old towell on top.
    For a bit of warmth on a frost night I got some resistance wire, and calcuated the length to give 10 - 15W with a 12V supply. I stapled this to a plumber's heat-resistant cloth and folded it over so the wire was inside. I supplied it from a 12V 1A wallcube in the garage and ran a cable from there to the greenhouse. It seemed to give just enough warmth to make it very comfortable.

    0
    27rondam
    27rondam

    Question 1 year ago

    you should make a cooling one for your dog

    0
    Arthur HarlemanH
    Arthur HarlemanH

    1 year ago on Step 3

    just a thought but i would look into alternative heating methods. the lights you are showing appear to be LED. LED lights will produce minimal heat at the light source, most of the heat that is associated with LED lights comes from the chip. in this case the chip is in the same enclosure as the solar array.

    0
    tiger12506
    tiger12506

    1 year ago

    You could avoid the roof leaking entirely by not putting any holes in the roof at all. Put the holes in the side, preferably under the overhang of the lid.

    0
    Seba2020
    Seba2020

    1 year ago

    I would add a switch for the cat to turn the lights on or off. About heat and ventilation, you can make some small recuperator with PC fans. One method is heat exchanger with fresh and used air flowing in opposite directions, divided i.e. by Al foil sheets. Another one: used air flows through a block of material which takes it's heat, while fresh air gets heat from the 2nd block, and after some time the directions change periodically. Recuperators need some filters to prevent bacteria developement inside them. Fans don't have to run all the time/with full power here. And maybe also some cat-controlled thermostat?

    0
    ToolboxGuy
    ToolboxGuy

    1 year ago

    Cat approved! Y U No let me in houz?

    20200807_171104.jpg