Published: July 10, 2012

Fair Companies/Video screen capture

Sami Grover samigrover

Solar space heating is tricky. Air is harder to keep warm than water, and while most of us need a shower on a hot day—we tend to want space heating when the sun is not doing enough for us. Nevertheless, from a Mad Max style partially solar heated home, through a DIY solar heater from old campaign signs (yeah, politics and hot air…) to a soda can solar panel, we’ve seen plenty of attempts at harnessing the rays of the sun to actively heat the air inside our homes.

Here the folks at Fair Companies present one Seattle man’s attempt at heating his home studio with soda cans. (The video was shot on a phone, so please pardon picture quality.)

Fair Companies/Video screen capture

Peter Rowan left his job as a self-described “corporate weenie”, and instead took up teaching, writing and converting a shed into a reclaimed writer’s studio.  Because the studio was off-grid, electric space heating was not an option. So he set up a simple soda can space heater, using fans running off his solar panels to help channel the air.

Fair Companies/Video screen capture

Rowan is transparent about his own gaps in knowledge on the thermodynamics of solar space heating, and shares the ups and downs of his experiment. (Putting a panel that relies on convection on a relatively flat roof was probably not the smartest of ideas.) But once the installation was complete, he does feel like even on a cold, cloudy day he is getting a head start on heating the space compared to the ambient temperature outside.

Full instructions on building a solar space heater here. I’d love to hear from anyone with ideas on how to improve this design.

YouTube video on building a solar space heater.