ER Project House: DIY Solar Clothes Dryer

Post image for ER Project House:  DIY Solar Clothes Dryer

by Tim Fulton on September 24, 2008

The good old solar clothes dryer, better known as a clothesline, is quite the energy saving device.  To get mine setup was thankfully very simple.  The previous owners had the posts in teh ground for the line already, but there was no line on the posts.  So, I made a trip to the local store and picked up my supplies.  This project didn’t require much.  I just needed some eyebolts (I went with stainless steel so they don’t rust), the actual clothesline, and clothes pins.

Back at home, I was all ready to go.  I had my tools out, drill bit selected and was a little psyched to be starting another project.  Then, upon closer inspection of the actual posts, I saw there were already holes in the posts.  So, I took my eyebolts and threaded them into the existing holes.  Wow, that was easy.  Anyway, getting the eyebolts to fully thread in with just your hands can be a problem.  So, I suggest taking a long screw driver, putting it through the eyebolt, and turning it.  This makes it very easy.

With all the eyebolts in place, we were ready to put up the actual clothesline.  A normal double knot at one end did the trick.  I had already decided that I wanted to use individual lengths of line instead of one really long line that snaked its way through all the eyebolts.  This saves a bit of line and also allows you to be able to adjust each line individually if need be.  So, I had to go look up a good knot for the other end of the line.  After searching for a while, I found that a round turn and two half hitches would probably work out best.

After that, there isn’t much more to do besides find a container to put the clothes pins in.  I ended up just using a basket from around the house that wasn’t being used.

So, thats it, free clothes drying.  It has a nice ring to it, right?  Well, for just a few dollars, that is what I now have avaliable to me for about half the year.  According to, a clothes dryer takes an average of $85 annually to operate.  So, it looks like this improvement will easily pay for itself in its first year.  No need to bother the local utility for any of its energy just to dry these clothes.

Materials list:

  • (1) 100′ clothesline – $4.94
  • (8) stainless steel 5/16″ eyebolts – $1.39
  • (2) pack of 50 clothes pins – $1.92

Total:  $19.90

Energy savings:  ~$7 worth of gas and electricity combined per month

Payback:  ~3 months of usage

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1 Desserts September 25, 2008 at 2:38 pm

nice article, thanks for posting this!

2 Mike December 1, 2010 at 6:53 pm

What do you use the remainder of the year?

We use a collapsible frame for inside the house. The cloths dryer needs dusting from time to time. It is only used for emergencies, or to complete the drying cycle of line drying.

Your ER Project house has a nice porch that would allow line drying during the winter. Hang it long enough to get the clothes as dry as possible, toss in dryer to finish them and to remove wrinkles.

Remember that line drying works great on items that never require ironing. For items that do part of the energy gain is lost when you have to drag out the iron to make that shirt presentable for work.

3 Tim Fulton December 2, 2010 at 8:25 am

For the remainder of the year we use a normal gas dryer. Convincing the wife to go hang clothes in the freezing cold winter will be a tough sell. 🙂 We did just replace our ~12 year old washer and dryer with a new front loading washer and dryer. So, drying time will be minimal.

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