DIY solar has become increasingly popular in the last few years. As costs for home heating and energy have risen, do-it-yourselfers have taken matters into their own hands. Simple, inexpensive and elegant designs are making DIY solar a very rewarding experience. DIY solar panels, the diy solar water heater, and the DIY solar hot air panel are but a few of the most popular projects. Check out our DIY Solar Network for lots of DIY project videos - Join and contribute your own experiences!
Some of the simplest DIY solar projects involve home heating. Because simple solar heating doesn't involve electricity, these projects are a good place to start with DIY solar. Most solar heating projects make use of everyday materials like a garden hose, or used refrigerator coil, so they are also inexpensive.
Solar pool heaters are one of the most popular solar Do It Yourself projects. There are many ways to build a pool heater, but the simplest involve black plastic tubing (or a black hose) and some method of coiling the tubing for maximium expose to the sun.
Do it yourself hot water heating for your home can be as simple as using an old refrigerator coil and gravity to feed your water heater with hot water from the sun. Other designs use the hot air from your attic to heat water. Ingenious!
Another popular do it yourself project is the solar hot air box made from used soda or beer cans. Used aluminum cans are very good conductors of heat and, when painted black, can generate considerable heat. The device is placed on the south side of the home (in the northern hemisphere) and a fan is used to circulate the cooler air from the bottom to the top of the box. Most DIY'ers report at least 10 degree increases in room temperature using these solar hot air boxes.
Solar ovens are a fantastic way to leverage the suns energy to cook food or boil water. There are many designs from the simplest pizza box solar oven to more sophisticated solar cookers that will last for years. The general concept is to use reflectors, or mirrors to concentrate the sun's solar energy into an "oven". The oven portion is painted black (or made out of black material) and is covered by a clear plastic, plexi-glass or glass cover that retains the heat. The pizza box oven can reach temperatures over 200 degrees while more sophisticated solar cookers can reach temperatures over 400 degrees.
The do it yourself solar dehydrator is a real energy saver. Simple in design, these dehydrators are super efficient and require no power like their electricity based cousins that suck ungodly amounts of energy over many days. The design is similar to the solar oven but with emphasis on ventilation so the moisture can escape.
Solar lights are the solar DIY of the masses. Anyone can install a solar light because the solar panel and light are self contained and there is no electricity or wires to deal with. The interesting twist for more sophisticated solar DIY users is the redeployment of the solar panels inside the solar lights. Many a DIY solar robot or solar toy has been created with the remains of a solar light.
Solar panel installation on a rooftop is a fairly sophisticated job, and not appropriate for the non-hardcore do it yourselfer. There are solar panels kits that are appropriate for DIY'ers. Most people eager to install their own solar panels have a certified solar installer assist them with the technical aspects (so no one gets zapped). DIY solar panel installation off grid with batteries is the most sophistcated because it is relatively easy to ruin your batteries with the wrong implementation. Be careful climbing on the roof, and be careful with those batteries, they're expensive!
Passive solar DIY is a broad area, like energy efficiency, which can save lots of energy and money if implemented properly. Do it yourselfers can take advantage of simple design techniques to maximize solar gain (solar heating) in the winter and minimize it in the summer.
Fresnel lenses (pronounced freh-nel) are super powerful solar concentrating devices. They are extremely dangerous and can cause severe injuries, so please be very careful if you plan on doing anything with one of these lenses. Most of the DIY projects using Fresnel lenses use the concentrated energy to purify water, cook food, or just melt and burn things. Good fun with goggles.
This is one of our favorite areas for solar DIY. There is so much creativity and fun involved, and the contraptions built are amazing to observe. Concepts range from light seeking robots to solar all-terrain vehicles and solar boats. Enjoy the madness!
Tags: DIY solar, DYI solar, do it yourself solar, solar DIY