Make a solar heater with recycled cans


If you feel like taking up a project this summer, one to seriously consider is making a solar heater with recycled cans. Using old soda cans, plywood, plexiglass, spray paint and plastic tubing, you can use the sun’s free energy to heat your house.  You may need to call on friends and family in to help a little with this one – you will need just under 300 empty cans of soda with the tops and bottoms drilled out.

The cans are spray painted black and stuck together in vertical rows using sealer. The sun heats up the air flowing through the cans. The warm air rises to the top of the box that the cans are encased in and then is distributed through the house via a manifold at the top of the box.


This isn’t a simple project as such, and it takes about a month to complete, but the bonuses of making a solar heater this way is that the materials can be recycled and it is much cheaper to make this form of solar panel than buy one.

The simpler, the easier, of course, but you can also make your solar heater more effective and efficient by adding small fans, thermostats and using different material for the box your cans will sit in.

Here is a video showing how to make your own solar heater, a great tutorial made by Peter Rowan:

For a detailed guide, check out this blog which tells you what to do, step by step:


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  1. Would this work in heating a greenhouse in the winter? If so what temperature range do you think it could handle, say inside a 8′ by 6′ and 9′ high greenhouse

      • Hello, I am not the poster of this but would like to add my opinion. I do alot of prepping and I can share my input. The idea would definitely work in your case, it has to be vented correctly into the green house from the bottom to work most efficiently as heat rises. Fans would be great an placement would also be something to consider. I have done this in smaller batches for heating a small green house by making multiple smaller boxes on the bottom of the outside walls of sun soaked side. There are many options for this and videos on how to do it in many different ways. Radiant heat is a phenominal route and is very effective if planned out. I hope it helps some from someone with personal experience.

    • It would absolutely work (brother did it to his) as for how hot well from what i see when visiting it normally sits around 37C

  2. dont forget to paint them black placing in a sealed case with ground level intake pipes from inside house leading into the cans directly and placing a glass pannel on the frount would also increase heat a (white back and a concave rather then flat shape would probly increase further also but much harder to engineer), matt black box and cans in a sealed apart from intake and out take pipes with a glass panel in frount would allow quite high temperatures inside the cans

  3. brilliant
    please pas on this to as many people as possible
    all over the world.
    one day Solar will be our savior.

  4. Why would this be any more efficient than letting sun just come through window and fall on the floor? In either case the same amount of energy is entering through the window. 1 square meter of sunshine is about 1 kilowatt. Glass transfer efficiency is about 50%-70%, so 500w-700w per square meter.


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