How to Make Solar Panels Out of Cans

build your own solar panels

If you are planning to go green so you can pay less on your utility bills, you have made a wise decision, and, if you cannot afford to buy commercial solar panels, you are lucky – in the following lines, you will find out how to make solar panels out of cans, which are inexpensive materials available everywhere.

Do you have a hard time believing it? It is all true: you can build a simple solar heater from recycled aluminum cans. It is the cheapest way – you use sunlight to heat water, to save energy and also money.

To make a solar panel out of cans, you can use beer, soda or juice aluminum cans. If the room or the space you want to heat is well insulated, chances are one panel will be enough, depending on its dimensions, on its placing, etc.

Can Anyone Make Solar Panels Out of Cans?

You do not have to be an engineer. What you need are tools, materials and instructions to build a solar heater. You can find valuable “do it yourself” guides on the internet very easy. There are also many video tutorials available that explain how to make solar panels out of cans step by step.

What Do I Need?

You will not need many materials, and, if you are lucky to already have some of them in your garage, you will save valuable money. The following list may slightly vary, depending on the guide you use:

-          Lots of cans

-          Wood

-          Wood paint

-          Dark paint for the cans

-          Mineral wool

-          Silicon

-          Silicon for high temperatures

-          Fan

-          Outlet

-          PVC tubes

-          Aluminum tubes

-          Valve

-          Air filter

-          Differential thermostat

-          Polyurethane foam

How Much Does It Cost?

Making a solar panel out of cans is much cheaper than making mono-crystalline solar panels or polycrystalline solar panels. The cost will probably be around $200, or less if you already have some of the materials.

Of course, your homemade panel may not look as good as the Hyundai  or the AUO solar panels, but with such a small cost and their amazing efficiency, your panels will be twice as valuable, and you will be proud of having made them yourself.

What Do I Have to Do?

First of all, you need instructions on “how to make solar panels out of cans”. They will save you a lot of time and trouble, presenting every step you need to take, and offering intuitive drawings and sketches.

Then, you need a lot of cans. If you have only few or none at all, you can ask your friends and neighbors for some, or you can go shopping for beer and soda. When you have collected the cans you need, make sure you wash them, so that, when you use the solar heater, you avoid having to put up with any bad odors.

Right after you wash them, drill three holes in the bottom of every can. You then have to cut a small fin on the top of the cans. You have to be extra careful when you cut and drill the cans, because they are made of thin and sharp aluminum foil, and you could cut or scratch your fingers.

After drilling the holes, wash the grease or dirt from the exterior of the cans. Once they are dried, glue them one on top of the other with a silicone resistant to high temperatures. Depending on the size of the panel, you should form even rows of cans glued together.

To make your work easier, nail two wooden plates and make a support for the cans while the glue is drying. You can use some string to hold the cans against the plates. This may not be written in your “how to make solar panels out of cans” instructions, but you will see it comes in handy.

The frame of the solar panel should be made of 0.59 inch wood, while the front should be from 0.12 inch Plexiglas. Above and under the rows of cans, make sure you leave two compartments, for intake and exhaust, separated from the cans by a wooden cover.

The covers of the compartments have to be drilled to have as many 2.1 inch cut-outs as the number of can rows you created. Glue the first can of each row to the cover of the intake compartment.

Then, make a back casing of plywood for the panel, and have it cover the cans. Insulate the part between the cans and the back cover with mineral wool. Paint the entire wood structure, and find a place with a good sun exposure to install it in. Whether it is the roof or a wall, you will have to drill the intake and exhaust holes in it.

Finally, paint the cans with black or other dark paint, place them on the panel and cover them with the Plexiglas sheet. A good “how to make solar panels out of cans” guide will also explain how you can use two types of tubes for the intake and exhaust holes and the differential thermostat.

How Does It Work?

The fan draws air from the room, passes it through the filter and the valve, pushes it to reach the bottom compartment and blows it in the cans. Then, it goes through all the cans in the rows, reaches the upper compartment, and descends back in the house through the outlet. The dark painted cans absorb heat from the sun and heat the air that travels through them, rising the temperature of the room with several degrees.

You must know that you cannot store the heated air like you store the electricity from the solar panels in a battery. If the sunlight is dim, turn off the fan, because it will cool the room rather than heat it. But when the weather is sunny, regardless of the temperature, cans heat up fast, and the air along with them. Anything else you may wish to know will certainly be detailed in the “how to make solar panels out of cans” guide, so have fun reading!

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