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Old 09-28-2011, 01:29 AM   #1
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Default PopCan Solar Heater

I have recently learned about making a PopCan Solar Heater and several variations of it. There are several video's on YouTube on how to make your own from all kinds of materials (metal, wood, plexi, glass, etc) and there are also videos on how to get that heat into your house (small 12-volt fan connected to a small power-generating solar-panel).

I am seriously considering building one of these heating-panels and installing on the side of my garage to keep my garage warm in the winter during the day (doesn't do much for the night-time).

Some videos for you to view:




Anyone have comments about it?


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Old 09-29-2011, 03:04 PM   #2
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these air warmers might also have an unwanted solar cooling effect at night , some way to stop the air currents would be nessicarry, but any captured solar heat especially in our sunny part of the country would be a bonus.



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Old 09-29-2011, 05:15 PM   #3
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I have been thinking about that fact as well - how to keep the heat in the house during the cold nights. Most of the videos that I have watched all have the solar-heater attached to a garage or workshop and not to the main house.

I was thinking that if I installed one on the south-side of my house with the intake near my upstairs ceiling and the heated exhaust blowing into my basement that it would keep the house warm during the day with little use of my furnace ... but ... late at night, would that be counter active and "pull" the heat from my house ...

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Old 09-29-2011, 06:05 PM   #4
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Great videos. Youtube has alot of worthless stuff, but I love it when people post videos of useful stuff like this.
thanks for the links.

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Old 10-01-2011, 04:31 AM   #5
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You should be able to make an air flow thermostat. out of a sealed air cylinder , the right semi volitile gas mixture and a spring to close the intake or exhaust port of the heat exchanger. I have heard of a device like this to open a vent on green houses to prevent overheating.

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Old 10-01-2011, 10:09 AM   #6
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Since heat rises the return should be located at the ceiling level with the supply air being low. Gravity back draft dampers installed on the fan ducting and supply ducting with a standard heating thermostat sensing the interior temperature to control the fan operation. When the fan shuts down the dampers will automatically close. Dampers need to have good seals and there are some out there that will provide less heat loss than others.


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Old 10-02-2011, 03:17 PM   #7
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Neat idea, some thoughts off the cuff...

Aluminum cans are widely available. The can wall is thin and will heat up quickly.

However, working with so many cans is tedious... a lot of individual attention to place, secure and seal. And I see the can pipes are usually in the upright position; as the sun moves it creates shadows (inefficiency) where the cans meet. The round can profile is great when the sun is at a right angle to the can, but as the sun starts to move you lose efficiency.

How about using a flat ducting system with baffles for speed control/turbulence? No shadows, much simpler and faster to build. Add some sort of heliotropic mechanism and you'll maximize efficiency.

There is also the possibility of using a solar water heater to do both air/water.

Also, a photocell could be used to signal a motorized damper that shuts off the heater when the sun goes down. It's the same type of controller that signals outdoor lights to turn on/off. Or you could just remember to close the damper when you have to turn the lights on in the house.


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Old 10-02-2011, 08:17 PM   #8
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I have been looking into these for almost a year now. I think that I can build one with far better results and ease by using hard copper pipe and soldered fittings. The pop cans are cute, but solid stability from copper would be far better. Any type of glue that you can name will not be able to take hot and cold changes as well as soldering copper pipe. Yes, before you groan about the cost, of course it would cost you more to build then free beer cans. But, copper would hold up for years longer then glued beer cans.


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Old 10-04-2011, 07:27 PM   #9
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I have been thinking about using high-temperature RTV (automotive grade) for the "glue" that will bind the cans to each other, and, use the same RTV to glue the cans to the upper and lower manifolds. As I have a huge supply of metal at work, I would consider building the enclosure out of 18g mild-steel (light and strong enough for the experiment), seal-weld the corners and the manifolds, spray the whole unit with truck-box liner and then seal a piece of plexiglass to the face.

The high-temp RTV is designed to withstand the temperatures of a motor, so, it should be good enough for the solar-system. Truck-box liner heats up quickly and holds the heat quite a long time (I can't walk on it barefoot in the afternoon), so, it should work well as both a conductor of the heat and an insulator for the box. I am thinking that a dryer vent-cover would be enough to seal up any chance of outgoing heat and just use a filter on the "intake" side of the solar-heater to make sure that dust doesn't coat the inside of the cans rendering them useless ...


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Old 10-04-2011, 08:52 PM   #10
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Well naekid, it seems alright, but I am still thinking of the copper type. Remember when they started making car radiatiors out of alum and glued plastic tanks on them ? I still laugh when I think of what they cost to replace every couple of years or so, as they were sure to fail , especially down here in AZ. where you really do notice the heat. As far as the copper system would be concerned, I would really consider using straight anti-freeze in the system. That would make the copper last for years and years with little o no corrision Just my opinion anyway.

What generally causes glue of any kind to let go, is time and extreme temp . changes.




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