Making Heat, The Solar Way

Some 37+ year’s ago, while studying at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, I had the occasion to meet a man who was living on a small farm property outside of town.  He was into recycling, vegetable growing and had built a solar furnace which helped to heat his poorly insulated wood frame home.  Well, I was intrigued that an individual could do something like this so I kindly asked if I could stop by someday to see it’s construction.

When arriving to his home I quickly told him that I was anxious to see his solar furnace.  Thinking back to my visit I recall that he wasn’t so impressed with my curiosity and perhaps thought that everyone already understood this basic technology.  Sorry, not me!  To my amazement, it was a poorly made wooden box covered by an old exterior window.  Inside the box was a metal baffle (a piece of corrugated metal roofing material) which collected radiant energy.  There was a hole at the bottom of the box through which cold air entered and a hole at the other end from which hotter air emerged and was vented into his home.  I was amazed that something so crudely made could actually generate heat!  Well, I never went back to this chap’s home and promptly forgot the experience.

Many years later, I read an article about a fellow (Jim) in Canada who owns and operates Con-Solair.  Well, Jim developed a solar furnace that is being marketed throughout his country.  Sorry, it’s not the fellow from Arkansas.  After reading through his material and watching a video I decided to contact him via e-mail to ask some questions about the adaptation of his technology to a small passive greenhouse.  He was very helpful and encouraged me to explore similar solar furnace technologies on U-Tube.  Yes, and as you perhaps already know, many individuals are playing with the solar furnace principle.

Like Jim, I encourage all those interested to check out this technology.  It is super easy to build a system and won’t cost you much money.  This technology may be a real boost to winter veggie production here in the Midwest!

Today, some 12 years after writing the aforementioned piece, I am now pursuing the construction of a solar furnace.  I’ll be slowly providing updates as I make progress.

Phase 1 : Collect aluminum cans

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