Jon Sooy

Royally Geeked Out – Sooy Solar Air Space Heater

14 comments

These are the video chronicles of my experimental quest to heat a portion of our house using the sun. The idea came to me while driving down the highway: if I could capture heat from the sun in a collector, I could possibly send that heat into my house to help offset my heating bill. Like a lot of great ideas, I soon figured out that there are others already doing this! I found a great Yahoo Group called ‘Simply Solar’ and several web pages that had stories from guys like me trying to accomplish the same thing. One site worth noting is www.builditsolar.com. Thank you to all my new friends who helped me to accelerate this project with the personal accounts of their own projects.

In order to repay my debt to these solar pioneers, I have recorded my progress in 6 short videos. I hope these videos in turn will help others.

Video 1a and 1b: Introduction and basic over view of what I plan to do!

Video 2: Solar Heater Collector Construction

Video 3: About the Screen,Insulation

Video 4: Paint it Black and the Glazing

Video 5: It works!

I have some final tweaks to do but it works! Thanks again to my Yahoo Group and to builditsolar.com!

Shopping list for the electronics and some ducting (all Amazon… gotta love that Amazon Prime):
4″ Inline Blower – 235 CFM – 12 Volt – 1.3 lbs – 5 1/4″ (h) x 4 3/16″ (w) x 6″ (l)
Thermostat Switch – Circuit On At 100°F and Off At 85°F – Large Flange
Fantech RSK 4 Backdraft Damper 4″ Duct
Kintrex SPC0601 7 Amp 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Power Charge Controller With Digital LED Display
Moeller Injection-Molded Marine Battery Box (One 27, 30 or 31-Series Battery, 13.44″ x 7.75″ x 10.5″)
Everything else was from local home improvement stores.

Written by Jon Sooy

February 11th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

14 Responses to 'Royally Geeked Out – Sooy Solar Air Space Heater'

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  1. A couple of sugestions. Build a cover for the collector , and cover it all summer. This will greatly extend the life of all the components. Don’t let a wood colector stagnate.
    I cover my factory made hot air collector with large pieces of aluminum taken from old walkin freezer panels. The metal surrond from an old above ground swimming pool would work. Steel, or some were Al. Paint it white. Rivert together some pole barn siding. Just keep the sun off it and keep it cool.
    Build some seasonal reflectors to lay in front of the collector. This will increase output by 25% at little cost. Not necessary if the ground is snow covered all year.

    Carl

    12 Feb 12 at 12:04 pm

  2. Thanks Carl! Great suggestions.

    Jon Sooy

    12 Feb 12 at 4:00 pm

  3. Hello Jon.

    Nicely done project and video log of the process.

    How much did this cost to put together? What sort of temps are you seeing entering the family room on sunny days? I think the 100* was on a cloudy day, right? How warm is the family room in the morning compared to late afternoon on a typical sunny day?

    Now for the most important question. Is your wife happy with how the project turned out? :-)
    Hugh

    Hugh

    14 Feb 12 at 9:06 am

  4. Hi Hugh,
    Thank you for the kind words. I don’t have an official total and I am still tweaking. I’m guessing around $300. So far I have been unlucky with the weather. Cloudy days and rain. Today is the first clear day since that first day and I am stuck at work! I do know that once the fan kicks in and runs for a while, the temperature does drop. I don’t have any stats yet, but will work on that. Yes… the wife is happy!

    Jon Sooy

    14 Feb 12 at 10:08 am

  5. Hi Jon,

    Great job! I love the simplicity of the intake manifold. Have you tested if you have any hotspots? How did you think of that? Did you think of a tapered slot instead of holes? Have you had any sunny days yet to check output temps. I’m also curious about the CFM output with the solar panel.

    Greg

    Greg

    23 Feb 12 at 6:25 am

  6. Hi Greg,
    Yes I have had some sunny days and the unit works pretty darn well. I had a 12 volt bilge pump fan but I couldn’t generate enough power to keep it going so I switched to a 110 volt inline fan. I am disappointed with it’s performance and intend on upgrading to something with more cfm’s. Using my IR temp guage the manifold seems to work fantastic. I am actually getting slightly hotter temps on the left and right sides (about 1-3 degrees compared to the center). I certainly didn’t expect that!
    Jon

    Jon Sooy

    23 Feb 12 at 8:30 am

  7. Hi Jon

    I wondering how your collector is working? And how it has paid off after a full winter. I have been working on collector for my garage similar to your design but with a differant manifold and insulation on the sides. what cfm fan did you end up using? Your design is much simpilar then mine I wish I saw it first.

    Len

    Len

    30 May 12 at 2:45 pm

  8. Hi Len,
    Sorry for the slow reply as I was on vacation. I haven’t had a full winter yet. All I can say at this point is that it works. I actually wish it were a larger collector. The room it blows into has large doorways that open into even larger areas and while the impact of this little collector is undoubtedly impressive, I am probably only going to gain a few degrees over all as a result. If this were hooked up to a room that could be closed off, it would likely be too much heat. Keep in mind that we are in Northern California. Fan is here. Fan controller is here. I am still tinkering and thinking about changing the glazing to double wall poly carbonate.

    Are you going to share your set up? I’d like to see it!
    Jon

    Jon Sooy

    14 Jun 12 at 9:15 am

  9. Hi, just a few comments

    first, great videos / you did a great job with the construction.

    I have 3 hot air collectors I built and ended up using 110 fans purchased at a HVAC place because they are rated for over 200 degrees.

    Anyone doin one of these projects needs to be careful with fans from Lowe’s and Homedepot as they may Not be able to handle the heat generated from a hot air constructed box. be careful ok?

    The fans I bought are 6 inch tube booster fans and use only 15 watts of electricity to kick butt.

    Only thing I might change on your system is change the fan type for more air movement and use 2 supplies to that room rather than 1. You have a giant hot air collector there.. it should overheat that room of yours if you figure each 4 x 8 collector = around 4 to 5 thousand BTU’s each..

    Next, if your fan snap disc controller is recyclin too much, you might have to move the location of it so it’s in full sun at all times and try to make sure it’s situated in a place where it’s not goin to be cooled down by exiting air passin thru the tube into your room.

    email me and I’ll send you pictures of my collectors if you like. I’m at: web401 @ coxDOTnet

    Take care,
    Pat B
    Warwick, RI

    Pat B

    30 Jul 12 at 7:41 am

  10. Hi Jon,

    You did a nice project, I would change the fan system
    you have to run it without battery and led the sun do
    the job. Full sun = max.fan power, little sun less
    air flow, no sun = fan stop and no unwanted cold air
    comes in or warm indoor air is sucked out.
    So don’t overpower the fan with too large PV module
    otherwise also on cloudy day the fan will run.
    Good producer for 12v axial fans is German company
    ebmpapst, I don’t know if available in your country.
    Best Regards
    Max, Cyprus

    albert max rapp

    18 Dec 12 at 2:46 am

  11. hey jon,
    great job, and love how you put the videos together to give a more depth view of the project. I will definitely be referring back to this, as I want to try it on my own home :)

  12. Hi Jon
    Thanks for the great videos. Looks good.
    Are you still using it?
    I had a question – how did you make the vertical joins in the centre of the glazing where they overlap -airtight.
    Thanks John D.

    john

    10 Aug 14 at 7:13 pm

  13. Hi John,
    Yes… it still is working great. It’s not quite big enough but it does supplement our existing forced air system. TAP Plastics has a channel system that joins two pieces of glazing, then I used clear silicone caulk to seal the glazing.
    Jon

    Jon Sooy

    11 Aug 14 at 5:46 am

  14. Actually, PV panels are icrnbdiley cheap right now.The only reason they appear expensive is when compared agaist fossil fuels, like oil, which are already becoming MUCH more expensive, and which will continue to do so for many, many year.Buy PV now, or kick yourself for not doing so later.

    Boris

    21 Dec 15 at 7:05 pm

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