PopCan Solar Heater

Discussion in 'General Homesteading & Building' started by NaeKid, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    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?
  2. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

    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.

  3. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    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 ... :gaah:
  4. mikesolid

    mikesolid Mobile Bug-Out-Bag-Man

    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.
  5. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

    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.
  6. RevWC

    RevWC The Future?

    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.:2thumb:
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  7. Fn/Form

    Fn/Form Function over Form

    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.
  8. Nadja

    Nadja Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    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 ...
  10. Nadja

    Nadja Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. k0xxx

    k0xxx Supporting Member

    I've been considering building one of the pop can type heaters for a while now. I had been toying with the ideas of using alternate materials like corrugated metal panels, flue ducting, etc. While doing some research on the web about different designs, I came across an article about using aluminum screen, instead of metal tubes.

    Aluminum Screen Collector

    The design was tested along side of several other designs and it actually performed better. It seems very easy to build, so I believe that I may have found the one that I will try first. Now if I can just clear some space in the workshop...
  12. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...


    Hey NaeKid did you ever build one of these?
  13. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    The plans are still in the plans.

    I have been working on lots of other projects through the winter to get ready for spring. I just finished my cold-storage room (framing, dry-wall, mudding, painting) and built a heavy-duty shelving unit inside it (finished painting it on Sunday - three days ago), still have to mount my peg-board on the walls inside the room for all my little things that I like to have around (bulk-packages of spices and such), design-and-mount a magnetic-board for note-taking in the room (call it my shopping-list of bulk-items), order and plumb-in my cold-water storage tank (33" diameter by about 7' tall) ... and beyond that, I have all my metal sitting in my garage waiting to be welded together for my new BOT that I have designed, laser-cut and formed and then I have three motorbikes to get ready for spring-riding (BOM's) ...

    I am working on building a RocketMassHeater for my basement (thanks to everyone here who posted the plans for that project), I have a kitchenette to build in my basement, my wood cookstove needs to move from work to home and get installed there, a kitchen upstairs that needs to be turned from a "Yuppie-Kitchen that is pretty but non-functional" to a "cooks-paradise" kitchen ....

    .... and I have a fence around my yard that was damaged in the winter due to heavy winds that needs to be replaced and when it is fixed up, it will also receive mounts for planned wind power-generators to work in conjunction with my solar panels that are waiting for me to design mounts for ...

    .... and I wanna get all that done before spring. Ya, it isn't going to happen before spring, but, that is my short-list of projects that needs to be completed. Somewhere in that list is my pop-can solar heater that I have designed and redesigned in my head and in AutoCAD to calculate air-flow requirements and venting required to make it happen.
  14. JustCliff

    JustCliff Supporting Member

    I have been collecting cans for about a month now and will build one this summer. I may not get a great deal of heat from it but. any little bit helps. I want to use it on the incubator room to save a bit of money and just to see how it works.
  15. TheAnt

    TheAnt Aesops Ant (not Aunt)

    NaeKid, I love to hear about your projects! You remind me of a high-school friend of mine that he and I used to come up with these grand projects and do-it-yourselves and had lots of fun. One time on a whim we decided to design and weld a bumper for his truck. Neither of us was a great welder but I learned a lot.

    I would like to see what you come up with on the soda can heater. I have seen plans and watched YouTube videos but I wonder how well they really work and if they are really more than just an eye sore and weekend time waster. I look forward to it.
  16. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    My BOT plans and beginnings are found in this thread here on the board

    Here is a slide-show that I put together of my building of the shelves in my little storage-room (unpainted in the slide-show) ... [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKBULejnwFw[/ame]

    Somewhere here on the board I posted pictures of my Kawasaki KLR650 motorcycle, I have since got a 1981 Suzuki GS850GL that I am getting ready for spring-time (needs some TLC but it is all there and runs well) and I have a Suzuki S40 that is getting some lovin' in the form of hard-shell saddlebags and will also receive a couple of 1 liter fuel jerry-cans in nice holders - it is a pretty bike so I don't wanna ruin its looks ...
  17. baconexplosion

    baconexplosion Active Member

    I got started on a pop can heater myself over the winter. Time got away from me and I never got around to finishing it. I still have the completed frame out in the garage. I've thought about using some type of liquid heat exchanger, i.e. some copper tubing and a radiator or something similar as opposed to pop cans. No particular reason other than just to see how it does. I've recently cleaned out the garage so maybe I’ll be able to get back to it before it gets cold again...
  18. Londoner

    Londoner Well-Known Member

    You don't actually need the cans. Just build it like a maze with plenty of bends and the whole thing sprayed black and the air will heat up. Other vids describe cutting the can tops into a star shape with the fins protruding into the air flow to act as heat exchangers.
    Also you don't need to pump the air, convection will do it as a baseline no power option if you want to but obviously the pumping would spread the heat better around a dwelling.
  19. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

    I have a bunch of fans salvaged from computers, most use .13 or so watts and are 12 volt.

    7 or eight of them would run on 1 watt, so why wouldn't you use them?
  20. ideaman89

    ideaman89 New Member

    While living in Missouri I knew some people who built these, and sold plans to people to build them. They work very well whenit is clear and sunny.Not so well when cloudy. There was one built out of Soup cans, which worked better bacause the cans were thicker. Coper pipe would work as well, but if you are going to use copper you might as well use it for a solar water heater. then somehow draw the heat from the box into the house. As for a damper, my friends just used a peice of thick styrofoam to plug the vent to the outside at night. cheap and simple.