Energy & Sustainability
Solar Heating In A Weekend

They’re not Make or Craft, but a few other magazines do have a healthy sprinkling of DIY projects among their archives. Here’s a good one from Homepower: Passive Solar Retrofit… In A Weekend (pdf).

As I find sustainable projects, especially those that are lower-tech, I find it interesting to look at any disadvantages and think about how appropriate, low-cost technology might reduce them. From the Homepower article, here are the cons:

• You have to remember to raise the garage door in the morning and shut it at night

• By itself, provides less security than the garage door (substituting twin-wall polycarbonate glazing could help, because it’s more impact-resistant than acrylic)

• On cloudy days, some form of backup heat may be necessary to keep the shop space comfortable

• Over time, the acrylic panels may become scratched, marring the glazing’s appearance

• Outward-opening doors might be an inconvenience, especially if there is a lot of snow and ice on the driveway or it is necessary to park close to the building

One could easily address the first 3:
-Close garage door via timer connected to garage door opener
-Add a motion-detecting exterior light to improve security (or, just don’t worry about it because your door’s closing itself at night)
-Adapt a cleaner, heirloom technology (here’s one candidate) to add supplemental heat when necessary

What other ideas do you have to improve this basic project, while keeping costs low and complexity manageable?

Luke Iseman

Luke Iseman makes stuff, some of which works. He invites you to drive a bike for a living (, stop killing your garden (, and live in an off-grid shipping container (

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