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

Solar-furnace, built from scratch, generating great savings

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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

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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, Education, Environment, Health, International, Lifestyle, Science and Technology, Society, Work & Labour
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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!

    Steve

  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.

    Yours,
    Nancy Warnica

    • Marc Montgomery says:

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

  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.

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