Intro: Solar Dehydrator
Raisins, apricots, prunes, dates, sometimes strawberries or raspberries in cereal, they're all dried fruits. Many of these are imported and dried with some environmental cost. However, you can grow many of these fruits without chemicals and dry them without electricity. Here's one step of that process. This solar dehydrator is simple, inexpensive, and effective. Soon you can enjoy home dried fruits yourself!
Make sure to read all instructions before building. There are quite a few steps, but they're all pretty easy.
Step 1: Materials
To build this dehydrator you need....
Cutter Pliers (not in the picture)
3 x boxes (one long and wide but not very deep, another just as wide but deeper and shorter, and the third a fairly small box)
several sheets of paper
1cm square grid chicken wire (see picture)
black paint (not in the picture)
An extra person is always helpful!
Step 2: Heat Collector
Remove the flaps from the box and cut an air intake hole on one end and a much larger attachment hole on the other end where it will connect to the other box.
Step 3: Heat Collector Paper
Use clear tape to fasten the paper into the shape and size of the bottom of the heat collector box.
Step 4: Heat Collector Paper 2
Make tape loops on the bottom of the paper and fasten it into the box. Paint the paper black so that it absorbs heat.
Step 5: Finishing the Heat Collector
Take the cling wrap and cover the top of the heat collector. Tape it down with duct tape and make sure that it's sealed well.
Step 6: Deydrator Unit
Use your scissors to make a hole about 5x2'' (13x5cm) on the side of the box near the top. Make another opoosite it.
Step 7: Side Vents
Cut the remaining box's flaps off on one side and cut the box in half making two four-sided pieces without sides or bottoms. Tape them over the holes so that the dehydrating unit makes the 5th side of the small boxes. Make sure that the boxes are sealed to the large box.
Step 8: Tape Latches
To get the trays of fruit in and out of the dehydrator, we need doors (the flaps from the top of the box). To keep the hot air inside, we'll use tape latches to hold the doors shut. To make a tape latch (starting in the middle of the doors), you (1) put a strip of tape on one door, 2, put a piece of tape called the 'latch tape' (with the end folded back on to itself) perpendicular to the other piece, attached from the other door, 3, reinforce the latch tape with another piece of tape along the side of the door. Repeat at the top and bottom of the doors, doing step one with a piece on each side of the opening.
Step 9: Attaching the Heat Collector
Cut off the corner of the dehydrator unit (see picture). Fit the heat collector over the corner at an angle and tape around it with duct tape to seal it to the dehydrator unit
Step 10: Air Flow
This is how the dehydrator works.
Step 11: Insulation
To keep the hot air in the dehydrator unit, you need to cover the inside with alluminum foil. You'll have to figure out how to cut it, as you will probably have a different box. Remember not to cover the air intake or the holes for the vents. Don't forget to cover the doors.
Step 12: Racks
To make the racks, cut two squares from the chicken wire. Make them slightly smaller than the inside of the dehdrating unit. Push nails through the box from the outside so that they support the racks. Remember to have two levels of nails for two racks. Depending on the size of your box you might want one or three racks, it's up to you.
Step 13: Support
Use strips of duct tape from the bottom of the heat collector to the door side of the dehydrating unit to keep the heat collector from falling off. Use a box under the dehydrator unit to support it. The heat collector should now be at an angle to the ground with the dehydrator unit level.
Step 14: You're DONE!!!
The title basically says it. Remember, this is only a guideline, so go ahead and modify it.
Enjoy your dried fruit!