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Old 11-10-2012, 03:38 PM
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Default Solar Heat for SHTF



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So I was reading a post about apartment prepping and an idea brewed in the back of my mind.

If prepping to bug in to an apartment during the winter, it's going to get cold. You won't have heat even if you have power... unless you're gonna heat the whole apartment. You're going to want to be invisible, so a wood burner or other smoke making heater is not going to be a good idea.

You are also going to want to black out your windows so others cant see in and see that you are there.

Then I thought, black absorbs light/heat, and an idea came to me. What if you made some custom window black outs that slide in front of your windows when you want to disappear? Make them from PVC in a coil manner, paint them black, and build a frame to hold them. Then hook them up to a big water reservoir (biggest you can fit through your doors and maybe get a few of them (55g drums come to mind) and lastly hood up a hand pump (food grade). You could make several of these to go in front of any and all of your sun facing windows. Then they would heat your water (and keep if from freezing) then when the sun goes down, and temps start to drop they will release heat into the room keeping it warmer in your apartment.

If you got really complicated I'm sure you could use cast iron piping and a Fresnel lens, but this seems dangerous if you do it wrong. However, if you use cast iron piping it would also work as added security if you braces it to the walls. It would be like adding bars to the windows...

I know they already make solar water heaters similar to the idea I am presenting here but these would serve a specific purpose inside your home.

Seems like this would kill a bunch of birds with one shot

I just kinda wrote this while thinking about it, so it's a very rough draft... anyone have anything to add to it or take away from it? Or maybe it's an idea that needs to be scrapped all together?
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Old 11-10-2012, 04:02 PM
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You know it wasn't exactly on teh money for me but has given me a starting point for myself.

I rent a house that is badly insulated. I don't need opsec but I do need a cheap form of heating in winter.

we have a lot of sunlight in winter.

I need a way to find a cheap heat gatherer using the sunlight.

My problem is I don't have a lot of north facing windows (southern hemisphere here) so maybe something on the roof.

Hmm. Vague. i am too vague.. Heh.
Old 11-10-2012, 05:08 PM
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Or you could build one of the soda can solar heat gatherers that have been discussed on this site a number of times. It would be a lot simpler, cheaper, and lighter weight.
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Old 11-10-2012, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Absolutely! View Post
You know it wasn't exactly on teh money for me but has given me a starting point for myself.

I rent a house that is badly insulated. I don't need opsec but I do need a cheap form of heating in winter.

we have a lot of sunlight in winter.

I need a way to find a cheap heat gatherer using the sunlight.

My problem is I don't have a lot of north facing windows (southern hemisphere here) so maybe something on the roof.

Hmm. Vague. i am too vague.. Heh.
Look up solar hot air heaters. They are simple and easy to setup. You do need lots of sun so you are in luck.
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Old 11-10-2012, 05:16 PM
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There is a wide assortment of solar heating devices you can buy or make to help heat your home.

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Old 11-10-2012, 05:23 PM
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There is a wide assortment of solar heating devices you can buy or make to help heat your home.

My problem is actually that there is a verandah on the north face of the house, so to collect solar energy I would have to run the pipes through that verandah to the house.

Or else down from the roof. How would it enter the house? do I cut a hole in a glass window?

I can't do anything else, because to remove it and replace a small glass pane is the cheapest make-good I can think of when I leave.

That or I simply invest in more firewood.
Old 11-10-2012, 05:39 PM
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Soda can solar heater. I posted this in another thread. It really is that simple. Note: these don't retain heat at all the way a water-based system will. They will heat air during the daytime and stop heating at night. Air doesn't retain heat very well the way water does.



In the case of an apartment, you can leave out the glass. Just build a lightweight frame to hold the cans and put it in the window. Spray paint everything black with heat resistant stove paint.
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Absolutely! View Post
My problem is actually that there is a verandah on the north face of the house, so to collect solar energy I would have to run the pipes through that verandah to the house.

Or else down from the roof. How would it enter the house? do I cut a hole in a glass window?

I can't do anything else, because to remove it and replace a small glass pane is the cheapest make-good I can think of when I leave.

That or I simply invest in more firewood.
If the heat media is water, usually they use standard garden hoses to transport the heat from collector to thermal bank to home. Drilling a pair of 1" holes is common through a wall. [the hoses are wrapped in foam]

If the heat media is air, then you require larger ducting.
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutmaster316 View Post
Soda can solar heater. I posted this in another thread. It really is that simple. Note: these don't retain heat at all the way a water-based system will. They will heat air during the daytime and stop heating at night. Air doesn't retain heat very well the way water does.



In the case of an apartment, you can leave out the glass. Just build a lightweight frame to hold the cans and put it in the window. Spray paint everything black with heat resistant stove paint.
Thank you for that, These are great, but they lack the ability to hold heat (like you already mentioned) so they wouldn't be great during the night.

There are a ton of other ideas out there, but most of them look big and bulky, as well as expensive. PVC would be expensive to, but you would be able to customize the system to fit each window.

I forget where I have seen them, but I know there are large bag type units out there that heat your water to 150F+ in negative temps... Kinda impractical for the average apartment dweller though.
Old 11-10-2012, 07:06 PM
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The problem with direct sunlight is one of having the right amount of thermal mass to absorb the sun's heat during the day and then release it at night. Too much and the room won't heat up; too little and you'll be too hot during the day, and not warm enough at night. Fortunately, this kind of thing can be tuned with jugs of water painted black and placed in the sun. Just add or subtract water

While it's possible to produce a system which can help w/ hot air, you'll find that they'll be conspicuous as well.

Any kind of system using liquid will be difficult to make work well. You'll need some sort of pump to move the liquid (water?) through it, and that will require power.

Further, water exposed to freezing temperatures has a nasty habit of freezing, which means in an active thermal solar system you either need: A) to be where it never can freeze, B) to use some sort of anti-freeze in the system to prevent that, or C) a drainback system which, when the pump stops, allows the water to drain out into the holding tank inside the heated space.


The best system (IMO) is a direct solar gain through glass, warming up some thermal mass. It's foolproof, doesn't require any mechanical system to work which would require power or might break down, and is actually fairly effective. You also have to work to insulate the windows at night or much of what you gain during the day will disappear out those windows at night.

If your windows only face north (in the northern hemisphere), then that won't work, obviously. I think you'd find any kind of active system isn't going to be all that effective for you.

FWIW: One of my backup plans is to shut off most of the house (same with an apartment) and huddle up in a single room. I'd work to heat that room with hot water or bricks or metal heated outside by a rocket stove, then brought in to shed the heat. I also have propane which could be used for that purpose.

In a worst-case scenario I would create an indoor "tent" of blankets and such draped around and over furniture and such. The less space you have to heat the more effectively you can do that.
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:25 PM
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Hmmm. Thermal mass.

I wonder if you could fill the soda cans with sand or something?
Old 11-11-2012, 08:34 AM
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Hmmm. Thermal mass.

I wonder if you could fill the soda cans with sand or something?
If you're referring to the soda can device above, the soda cans create air tubes through which the air moves and is heated as the sun strikes the black-painted surface of the cans.

If you can make such a system work in your application, you can run the hot air over some thermal mass and heat it up just as the sun would directly.

That aside, soda cans filled with sand would be decent thermal mass. Bricks or stone or such would be somewhat better.


A few more notes about thermal mass: my office is in an old building constructed entirely of concrete block and brick. The floors are concrete as well.

This building is HUGE thermal mass. In the fall when temps first drop, it can be days before the heating system is even used. I've seen a few times where we have a sudden large drop in outside temperatures, but the building remains comfortable. There's so much heat stored up in that mass it takes days to cool down.

The same goes for in the spring. We can get sudden very hot days but the building doesn't even require air conditioning as it's so cool. In fact, there have been times when moisture condenses on concrete floors because they are below the dew point.

If your own home is decently insulated, you *can* use solar energy to heat it up even if you have no systems; just open the house up on days when it's warmer outside than in, and let the air heat up the thermal mass in the house: furniture, walls, floor, cabinets, everything. Then close up the house when the outside temps fall, and you have used solar energy, which heated up the air during the day, to heat your home.
Old 11-11-2012, 10:48 AM
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Actually I have done your expiriment using ABS and it works very nice . I have been recomending it for folks with south facing windows for a long time.
If you only use the bare pipe a curtain leaving a portion open at the bottom so the cold air from the floor can enter it will warm and rise right through the pipe depositing the warmed air in the room. A solar panel could drive a very small fan to circulate the air in the room .
Heating water takes a bit of time but with that one could pipe it into other rooms even a hose going to tanks and water heat your bed during the nite with a 3/8 visqueen tubing under a blanket under your sheets.
One could take a small hand operated pump used for inflating air mattresses, that has a pipe in and pipe out, (closed system), and hand pump the water through the system.
Pipe insulation would be important to maintain the temp from one application to another.
You might look into the thermal solar pannel as well that makes electricity from a heat source Or solar .
Old 11-11-2012, 11:22 AM
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What hurts all solar methods of heating is that during the time you need it most (Winter), you have the least of it due to the angle of the sun. Thermal mass does not give you any additional heating (or cooling) all it does it spread out the time of heat transfer. There are tons of scam heating devices that use a thermal mass to make outlandish claims (the portable electric heaters are rife with this stuff from quartz tubes, copper plates and other nonsense).

The old advice of windows facing the sun with something dark inside to absorb heat (light color objects reflect sun so less heat) and than insulated curtains that are closed at night to retain heat are about the best you can do. That and heavy home insulation to prevent heat loss.

One other comment is what I call soak temperature. This is the temperature of all objects around you. You need to add heat to raise temperature and all those items (outside air, ground, building materials) act to resist this by wanting to absorb that heat. If outdoors is 20F than to keep indoors at 70F you have a 50F delta temperature. Heat flows towards cold. The outside wants to steel your heat. You want to keep it in by reducing the rate heat transfers.

ETA: I thought of something that might help people with the concept. If you own a black painted (or dark colored car) You probably notice how hot it gets sitting in the sun in the Summer time. How hot is that car in the dead of Winter sitting in the sun? Do you still crank up the air conditioning in it come Winter?
Old 11-11-2012, 12:24 PM
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The front of my home gets direct sun in the morning. I've been wanting to build an attached greenhouse/enclosed porch to collect the heat and vent it into the living space during cool/cold sunny days. The plan is to have have mostly glass or twin-walled poly and screens. That way I can open it up and not add unwanted heat during warmer months.
Old 11-14-2012, 04:08 PM
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Ok, so this is 4 days later and thanks to you guys on the boards here, I have looked into the pop can idea. I am giving this one a try because, I already have all the material to build one and test it out.

After watching a few videos I decided to go with the cheapest and easiest version of the heater as possible.

It's so cheap and easily made I am almost embarrassed to share it... I will take pictures of the next one if this one works worth anything...

Here is what I did;

1)Measured my barn windows. (they are in between the studs)
2) picked one that is going to get good sun
3)built a frame with some left over misc 1x4 tongue and grove wood
4)put a back on it using some left over luon board its thin and light weight.
-I made sure the frame sits snug inside the studs and the back overlaps the studs so I can sink a few screws in place to secure it.
5)laid the frame on its back and put as many cans in as would fit.
-there was a decent space between the fame and the cans on the side and the top.
6)I cut PVC pipe to fit snugly between the cans and at the top I can fill them with sand if i want...
7)i used screws to secure everything in so it wouldn't fall out when moving it
8)spray painted everything flat black

Now I will let it dry overnight and then install it tomorrow morning... I will let you know what I observe.
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