Randy Buchanan at work on his solar furnace
Photo Credit: CBC

Solar-furnace, built from scratch, generating great savings


It’s kown as a ‘pop-can solar furnace’ and you can find the plans on You tube. But Randy Buchanan tweaked and tinkered and made significant improvements by enclosing it in a box, and using aluminum downspouts for the pop-cans.

With easy to obtain pieces and recycled elements like cast-off window panes Randy Buchanan built a system that even on a cloudy day, is heating his building by as much as 10 degrees celsius.  On a sunny day it will quickly rise by 40 degrees C.

 I’m just amazed how well it works

Randy Buchanan insulating one of the pipes in his modified pop-can solar funcace © CBC

An ‘environmental consultant’ Buchanan needs the heat and clean air for the rainbow trout he raises for his aquatic toxicology studies.  He started exploring alternatives when December’s record low temperatures sent his heating bill soaring.

Randy Buchanan combined pop cans with aluminum down spouts, and an old thermo pane window to assemble this solar furnace, and he is amazed at the results.  Add in the fan and the investment came to about $300 C.

It’s working so well, he’ll soon be taking down the solar photo-votaic panels off his roof.  He says the province of New Brunswick’s solar power plan is a deterrent, it’s costly and complicated.

Posted in Economy, Environment, Health, International, Internet, Science and Technology, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.


14 comments on “Solar-furnace, built from scratch, generating great savings
  1. Ecodad says:

    People – please – this idea is as old as the hills. ANYTHING black placed in the sun gets hot. There are several products on the market that do exactly the same thing as this system – only they will be better built, made of materials that won’t catch fire or create a fire hazard, will last several times longer, produce more heat, not smell when they get hot, etc, etc.
    The amount of heat they can deliver is determined by thermodynamics – a very exact science. This type of heater does get hot, yup! However the value of the heat it actually delivers is less than the amount of heat that comes through a window of the same size!! If you put black drapes behind a window, you would get more heat. What’s the value of that heat for a systems that’s, say 3 feet x 6 feet in size? Approximately $15 a year in natural gas – perhaps $50 a year in electricity….
    There are all kinds of ignorant shysters out there who try to sell these types of solar systems and claim they save hundreds of dollars a year. Complete b***-***t.

    • Breadoven says:

      I think Kait is missing the point. Constructing these panels allows one to determine where the heat will go. Not all windows are south facing. We are going to construct this system to heat a garage which is currently unheated.

  2. Kait says:

    I think everyone asking for plans here is interested in the “significant improvements” Mr. Buchanan made to the YouTube plans. Are there any details, other than the materials like aluminium downspouts and thermopane, as to how the improvements were made?

  3. Lenora says:

    How do I find this guy on Facebook ??!!! I don’t want to research a bunch of other solar furnaces, I want to see what he did. I want the info on his plans Please.

  4. ron says:

    Where are the plans for his implementation of this, not general or similar ones, his actual plans

  5. steve says:

    Ive been searching the web for his plans, please let me know if you find them!


  6. Hello,
    I would like to get a copy of Mr. Buchanan’s plans for his version of the solar furnace.
    Please advise me on how best to do this.

    Nancy Warnica

    • Marc Montgomery Marc Montgomery says:

      Hello- see you tube…lots of different videos there on solar heater, solar furnace, pop can solar, beer can solar etc.

  7. Peter says:

    Please post a link to the plans!

  8. Stuart Tarbuck says:

    I remember when I was planning my new house several years ago and looking into vaious alternate heating ideas, there was a company in Newfoundland marketing a solar heater that worked this way. It was a tall, rectangular enclosure with quantity of black beer cans mounted in a gentle curve in behind a dark plexiglass panel with a small fan at the top. About $1,000 as I recall.(I always wondered if you could use your own beer cans!)

    There is also a commercial product called SolarWall which looks like vertical metal cladding.

    It’s always good to see people coming up with clever home made ideas like this.

  9. Mr. PG says:

    Where are the plans? Can’t find him on Facebook.