SOLAR CAN HEATER




This will show you each step I took to
make a solar can heater for my home. 
I am currently in the process of making it
so as I go I will post photos and directions.

#1.
Collect as many aluminum cans as you can.
Make sure you wash them out very well
and dry them.  Here I put them all in the tub
with some soap.


I have them sitting on a 
changing table with towels to dry.
So far I have 143 cans.

#2.

Remove can tabs. 
Drill 3 holes into the bottoms of each can.
By doing this it will create a turbulent air
flow through the cans picking up more heat
from all sides.



#3.

Using a heavy duty manual can opener
remove the tops of all the cans.



#4.


Head to your nearest home improvement store for supplies
to make the box.

-1 Piece of glass 
(my glass I got free and was I think 34" x 7'.
Check Habitat or Craigslist)

-1 thin sheet of plywood ($8-$9)

-4  1" x 4" x 8'  ($5-$6)
FYI even though they display it as these measurements
in the store, read the sign carfeully.
The sign at Menards below these measurements
said, actual measurements 1" x 3.5" x 8' 

1-  1/2" x 4' x 8' sheet of foil backed insulation panel ($10)

2- tubes waterproof caulk (I got them free)

1-2 cans high temperature spray paint (for grills) ($3 to $4)

-screws if you don't already have any. (I had some)


#5.


Measure your 1" x 3.5" boards to fit along
the sides of your glass and cut to fit.
Screw corners together.




#6.

You need to cut two more boards the same size
as your end boards on the outer frame.
These will fit inside the frame and will
be used as the upper and lower headers.




#7.


Measure and cut the plywood for the back.
I used a jig saw.



#8.


Put 4 screws into each corner of the plywood.




#9.


Back your 4 screws partially out of the plywood/frame
and leave about a fingertips gap between them.
This is where you will apply silicone.




video


#10.


Screw down those four screws on the corners.
Now put more screws about every 10 inches
along the edges.  Wipe off any excess silicone with rag.
I used some of the excess to put over top the screws.






#11.


Measure your foil backed insulation panel to
fit the inside dimensions of the box.




#12.


Apply silicone to bottom of box
and place your insulation panel inside the box
and press it down in place.
Next, using extra pieces of insulation panel,
cut them to fit the inside sides of your box.
Add silicone to only the top and bottom sides
and press insulation in place.



#13.

For the long sides you want to figure out
where your header boards will go and 
cut out 1/2" area that they will slide into.
 I decided mine would go at 5.5 inches from each end.
I also based this upon how many cans wide and long
that my box would hold.
You want to leave enough space between the box end
and header for your inlet and outlet opening and/or fan to fit. 
Glue small pieces of insulation in first,
add your header board,
then glue in your other pieces of side insulation.
Take a pen, trace lengthwise on the insulation panel
on each side of your header.  This piece of insulation on the bottom under the header will also need to be
cut out so the header will sit flush with the frame.
 This shows the header sitting inside the
insulation along the side and bottom.
I have enough room for my cans and fans to fit.




#14.


Line up all your cans in the box completely.
Where they meet up with the header boards
I took a sharpie marker and traced the best
I could around the top of each can onto the header.
This will be you guide as to where to cut out 
the holes in the header.  Cans are 3" wide.
You will need to cut your holes 2.5" wide.
Remove headers and cut holes.






#15.


Apply Flamebuster High Heat Latex
(found at Menards for $4.97)
 around the bottom edges of cans.
Press the bottom edge of can into the top edge
of another can.  I did two at a time.
And then when two cans were dry 
I'd glue 4 cans together.  Little by little worked
for me because you can become flustered real quick
with gluing cans.  I stacked them in the box to dry
in rows and held them securely with bricks and
leftover wood.






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