Solar Heating In A Weekend

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?

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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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