How to Make Your Own Solar Thermal Panels

What You'll Need
Glass panel
Grill from discarded fridge (remove coolant beforehand)
Wood panels
Rubber door mat
Large screws
Aluminum foil
Duct tape
Air pump hose

With winters getting colder and heating becoming more expensive, building your own solar thermal panels to heat up air or water in your home could save you a lot of money and give you an exciting project to work on at the same time. Solar thermal panels are available in specialty stores, but can get quite expensive so we’re here to show you how you can build one for a lot cheaper with materials easily available at home improvement stores and local dumps. This simple DIY project will help you save big bucks not only on the solar thermal panels, but also on your heating bill. Follow the simple instructions below to make your own solar thermal panel and reduce your electricity bill without spending almost any money at all on supplies for this project. 

Step 1 – Build a Frame

Using the wood panels, build a frame around the doormat. Place the grill on the doormat and frame that as well. Build a smaller frame on the back and drive large screws through the two to hold everything together.

Step 2 – Maximizing absorption

Duct tape aluminum foil to the backing in order to ensure any unabsorbed heat can be reflected back and reabsorbed. Also use duct tape to close any cracks in the panels or foil.

Step 3 – Fitting grill into frame

Cut notches into the wood panels for the entry and return ports of the grill and fit the ports into these notches. Attach some hosing to the ports using duct tape to make sure no heat is lost.

Step 4 – Finishing touches

Attach the glass panel to the top of the frame using duct tape (you can screw this on to make it sturdier if you wish). Glass is best as it does not crack as easily as Plexiglas and does not allow heat to escape easily. Set the panel up using more wood frames at an angle which allows it to catch the maximum amount of sunlight.

Step 5 – Priming the panel

Put one end of the air pump hose at the bottom of a bucket of cold water. Grab the other end of the hose and suck on the tube in order to get some water into the panel. Set your cold water source higher than your warm water (return) source, allowing the panel to gravity siphon. You can apply this same concept to air and enjoy warmer winters and lower heating bills.

Now you should have a fully function solar thermal panel at your disposal. If you want, you can build a second one to lower your room heating bills, or just use this one for water heating. Regardless of the use you get out of it, you should be able to save a lot on your electricity bill this year.