If you want to give your empty beer cans a higher purpose, homemade solar panels are a great option. Of course, you can use any soda can for that. The topic is so popular that even a few successful companies, such as CanSolAir, are built for the idea of alternative can panels. Let’s see, how!
How does it work?
We use the thermal conductivity of aluminum. The soda or beer cans become our solar panel cells, which should be established into the housing unit in a way that promotes the air to circulate without any problem. The sun heats up the aluminum and this heat energy is transferred into the air as it is forced to go through the collector and back into the house.
If you want to make your own solar panel with beer or soda cans, follow this step-by-step guide! What do you need?
- soda/beer cans made from aluminum (depending on the size of the solar unit you will need 12-100 cans)
- sheet metal for the frame
- silicon adhesive
- black spray paint (preferably matt)
- tempered glass or polycarbonate sheet (0,12 inches)
- tubes for the air to flow
- air pumps or exhaust fans
- Preparation of the cans
First, clean and dry the cans then cut the top off of each can. You can use a hole saw or simply a can-opener for that. After that, cut a little star-shaped hole into the bottom. This way air can pass through the soda cans, which can help to gather more heat in the panel.
Glue the cans beside and on top of each other with silicon adhesive. Don’t worry, silicon is heat resistant up to 400 degrees.
- Making the wall for the cells
You will need the sheet metals to make the frame. You can also use some kind of wood. For the back panel, use plywood or metal. Here starts the fun. Spray the cans, the frame and the back panel with paint. We suggest using black paint because it absorbs heat better. (Think about wearing a black hoodie in summer!)
Click to the next page for the rest of the steps!
- Finalize panels with glass
Place the tempered glass or poly sheet on the front of the panel. Apply a tube for the air intake at the bottom of the frame. Also, add an air output tube at the top of the frame. Fill the gaps around the edges of the frame with silicon glue tapes. Don’t forget about the tube openings!
- Make the air circulate
Next, we provide air circulation with exhausted fans or air pumps. Attach it near the intake tube. It will pull cold air from the living area into your panel. Connect another fan to the output tube to pump the heat back into your house. That’s it!
It is a great option for heating up smaller living areas, but if you are not in the mood for crafting, there are companies that provide alternative solar panels from recycled gadgets and take this method to the next level.