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Old 08-10-09, 08:39 AM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Germantown, WI
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Default Inexpensive solar garage heater

I do a lot in my garage, and I love it. But, in the winter, it really is a pain when I have to get all bundled up and go out into the freezing garage and try to do some work. So, the solution I'd like to get some input on is how to heat the garage with solar power. It doesn't have to do a ton of heating, but it does have to be kept pretty cheap.

The first thing I was thinking of was a hot air panel. Very cheap, pretty easy to make. The down side is there is no thermal mass to them. You get what you get during the day and it is gone as soon as the sun stops hitting the panels.

The second idea is a really stripped down solar hot water collector idea. The system basically consists of two 55 gallon barrels. One outside, one inside. Get an inexpensive ac or dc pump (Gary on has been using a $55 pump successfully for a year now) , a small solar panel, and maybe a DIY temperature differential controller (pretty easy to make I'd think from an arduino). The outside barrel could be enclosed in something for some insulation and freeze protection. As it heats up, it pumps the water/antifreeze solution into the barrel inside the garage. Pretty simple, and much more thermal mass. This idea could really be ramped up with a simple and nice solar collector, possibly with a small drain back system to eliminate freezing. But, this all increases cost, barrels are cheap. We'd have to see how far my budget would allow this to go.

Other ideas? I'd love to get some input.

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