Solar RV Heating using small DIY Panels

solar RV heating panel

DIY panel for Solar RV heating can be built in less than two hours. Maybe you are not sure why you would want to build such a small solar panel? Well, if you`re interested in building a car heater or want to start a home made solar project but you have doubts regarding DIY solar panels efficiency, it might be a good idea to start small.

You can easily build a miniature prototype first and with this down-scaled version of solar heating unit you will be able to test the “proof of concept” and see how the system perform in real conditions.


Beside demonstration purpose, mini solar panel can be used to preheat the cabin of your RV, car or boat in the morning. You only need to bring the panel inside the vehicle, put it parallel to windshield. Have in mind to park the RV in correct spot and direction, with windshield facing the side where sun will come out in the morning. And there you have it, a very simple but extremely efficient car, RV, truck, boat cabin solar heating device!

Solar RV Heating DIY Project: Parts specification

  • 15 beer cans, preferably larger (o.5 liter)
  • Few cardboard boxes, preferably with thicker sides
  • Piece of glass, lexan or plexiglass
  • Cooler fan recovered from an old PC power supply
  • 12 Volt AC/DC adapter to supply the fan (cooler), or
  • 12 Volt Car power plug if you want to preheat your car, or
  • 12 Volt PV solar panel if you want to preheat your car with automatic on/off function

Here are some cool pictures of this unique, simple and cheap sun collector for solar RV heating. All material and parts are actually re-used junk, something that would most probably end up in trash if there wasn`t the opportunity to use all that to build our Do-It-Yourself solar panels.


solar panel for solar RV heating
It is extraordinary feeling when you find out that your mini solar panel really works! As you can see from the picture, this small solar thermal panel actually heated the air up to 88ºC / 190ºF after barely half an hour under the sun! You can only imagine what amount of heating power can be produced with regular sized solar thermal panels sitting in the sun all day.
It is a common misconception that you have to live in southern or tropical areas in order to be able to use solar energy and build diy solar panels. In fact, solar thermal panels work good in southern parts and on a cloudy day as well. Usually it is sufficient to have some sunlight or at least diffuse light, but off course, more direct sunlight converts into more energy that we can harvest for our solar RV heating project…

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1 Response

  1. Deb McCarthy says:

    I live in New Zealand I have created a free community garden for the community I live in, We dont have any power and I am trying to research a way to get enough power to boil the jug, run some power tools, have cooking demos. We have already built our own Pizza oven, bbq and have plans for a rocket oven out of a 44 gallon steel drum, this is my next step, I have heard about the cans and wonder if this would be a idea that would work at the garden!

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