SOLAR THERMAL HEATER, 2016
This is a solar thermal heater that I designed and built with a friend of mine over an afternoon. We managed to get heat blowing out of the heat exchanger at 124 degrees F.
The Design Process
Inspired by a YouTube video, Oliver and I planned out how to go about designing our own thermal heater. Thermodynamics tells you it works, but we wanted to see how well it actually works. We put together a design that used as many parts I already had lying around my basement as possible. For the rest we took a trip to Home Depot.
BUILDING THE FRAME
We used a table saw to cut out the 2x4 frame, with channels on both sides in order to slide in the lexan cover. While we were at Home Depot, we picked up dryer bellows, which was cheaper, lighter and more compact to transport than gutters (what the guy in the YouTube video used).
PLANNING THE SPACING OF THE BELLOWS
In order to get as much surface area as possible exposed to the sun, we planned out the spacing of the bellows an were able to fit 5 columns of bellows that were about 2 feet long.
INSTALLING BELLOWS AND PAINTING
Because of the tight space we were only able to fit 4 columns of bellows. Since this is the heat exchanger side we then spray painted it black to absorb the heat.
INSTALLING FINISHED PRODUCT
Oliver took it over to his house to install it on his window. It fit. phew. Now to the test.
It was a nice sunny winter day, and we decided to add bellows at the output to direct the heat. 130 degrees F at the output!
ONE MORE TEST
124 degrees F. Conclusion: solar thermal heaters are not a bad investment if all you spend is $30. Plus it's just fun to build one.