Introduction: Mobile Solar Space Heater

This solar heater works by using the sun’s energy to generate heat in towers of hollowed-out cans. The principle of hot air rising allows for the flow of heat from the heater through the pipes and eventually into the desired heated area. Our design builds off of an existing models of can heaters by making a more transportable and less breakable product. It incorporates a basic wheel kit made from 2x4's and recycled bike tires.

The original design can be found here:

Step 1: Materials:

  • 2”x4” boards of assorted length: Approximately 20 board feet for heater body, 20 board-feet for wheel kit
  • 90 standard 12 oz beverage cans, uncrumpled. Can substitute standard 16 oz cans
  • 60” x 30” flat wooden surface ie. plywood or marine particle board
  • 48” x 12” quarter inch plywood
  • 60”x30” transparent surface. Can be glass, plexiglass or an acrylic sheet
  • Two 6’ length x4 ” diameter tubes. Could be dryer vent kits corrugated water spouts, etc...
  • Heat resistant silicon sealant/caulk
  • Black spray paint
  • (optional) Recycled flexible foam––use for insulation, should have consistency of camp sleeping pad
  • 2 recycled bicycle wheels of same size
  • Rod to serve as Bike wheel axle (usually approx. 3mm), should be at least 8" long

Step 2: Assemble Wood Frame

  1. Cut 2x4 boards into 2 60” pieces and 2 27.5” pieces
  2. Assemble to build frame around 60”x30” flat wood surface

Step 3: Prepare Air Duct Ports

  1. Drill 4.25” holes at top and bottom of frame
  2. Cut plywood into 4 12” squares
  3. Drill 4” hole at the center of each plywood square
  4. Cut plywood squares in half
  5. Clasp half-squares around smaller corrugations to form a tight lock. We’ll later use this to attach them to the frame

Step 4: Prepare Beer Cans

  1. Remove opener tabs, push back opening slits to maximize size of the opening
  2. Drill 0.75” hole in the bottom of each can

Step 5: Stack Cans

  1. Create 10 rows of 9 cans, use silicon caulk to connect and seal each row
  2. Link cans in groups of 3 before forming entire rows. This minimizes movement strain on caulk as it sets
  3. Cut 2 2”x4” boards to 27.5”. Drill 1.5” holes every 2.625” with center 1.3125” above edge of board, so holes line up with openings in beer cans. These will hold the cans in place
  4. Screw boards with holes onto frame to fasten cans place.
  5. Spraypaint cans black

Step 6: Screw Clear Surface (acrylic Sheet) on Top of Frame of 2x4’s

Drill holes at corners and along edges at approx 1’ intervals

take care to drill slowly as to avoid cracking the surface

Step 7: Build Wheel Kits (see Picture for Reference)

  1. Cut 2x4’s to two sets of 44,” 22,” and 30” boards
  2. Cut two 4.25”x 6”x2” spacers out of wood
  3. Screw 22” board into the side of 44” board
  4. Drill 3/16” hole (for axlerod) approximately 2 inches above bottom of 44” and 30” boards, horizontally centered
  5. Screw spacers into 44” board starting approximately 15” from bottom
  6. Screw 30” board into spacers to match bottom of 44” board
  7. Insert tire, axle-rod. Tighten axle-rod.
  8. Repeat

Step 8: Attach Wheel Kits to Frame

  1. Screw ends of both wheel kits to the sides of the frame using 2 screws at each junction
  2. Cut a 33” 2x4 board, screw it to bottom of both wheel kits at L-junction. This serves as a brace

Step 9: Attach Hoses

  1. Insert end of hose into frame
  2. Clasp semi-circle cutout sections around corrugation
  3. Screw semi-circle cutouts to back of frame to secure and seal hose

Step 10: Sealance

Use sealant to fill cracks between glass surface and frame, as well as cracks between hose and frame