DIY Solar Panels for Air Heating: How it Works

Let`s take a look at how DIY solar panels actually work. On a sunny day, regardless of outside temperature, sun is rapidly heating the air in pop cans. Warm air is then returned to the room through the upper hole of solar collector and via aluminum pipe. The room, solar panel, air inlet and air outlet form a closed loop air circulation system. The air can not escape outside of the cans which helps to avoid deposition of dust and fogging onto Plexiglas inner side. The following image shows a simplified sketch of all elements of the DIY solar panels for air heating

solar thermal panel air heating principle

Ok, let`s summarize: Fan draws cool air from the room. The air goes through the filter and passes a one-way-pass-valve, which ultimately goes into the bottom hole through the aluminum insulated pipe. For the purpose of directing and distributing air through the solar panel, there are separate suction boxes made of aluminum sheet 1 mm (0.04 inches). These boxes are located on the lower and upper part of structure. The bottom of the collector’s box has a purpose to channel the air into the tunnels made out of pop cans. Here, the heated air coming from the cans, goes toward the output which is located in the upper corner of the room which we are heating.

This solar air heating system is not able to accumulate heat / solar energy produced. When it’s sunny, the solar collector produces heat, but it is necessary that it be immediately used for heating the air inside the housing. If it is not sunny, you need to interrupt the supply of air in the solar collector, because otherwise the room began to cool (valve).

Solar air heater panel is usually mounted on the south side of the house, but if not possible then you can place them on the south-east or south-west side. When determining the angle of mounting the solar collector, consider the angle of the sun’s rays fall in the winter season.

solar energy radiation

solar energy radiation

After completion and installation of collector on the house, the outside temperature of -3 ° C, from the solar collector came out 3 m3/min (3 cubic meters per minute) of heated air. Heated air temperature went up to +72 ° C. Calculated power that gave the solar collector was approximately 1950 W (watts) which is almost 3 HP (3 horsepower)!

By building cheap DIY solar panels using coke cans, you can achieve significant savings during the heating season. Depending on construction and material quality, one square meter of pop can solar air heater panel can heat between 10 and 15 m2 of your living space. In other words, 2x1m solar panels (2 square meters covered with pop cans) can heat up to 30m2 (square meters) of your home.

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