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featured design

Soda Can Solar Furnace


Dr. Drashco, author of FreeOnPlate.com

The Solar Collectors

What it does

This solar furnace captures solar heat with an innovative source - recycled soda cans - for home heating.   This furnace ducts warm air produced by passive solar radiation collectors directly into a home or other building.  It uses common materials and can be built for roughly $200.

It does require a blower to circulate the air, so while the heat is generated passively, a PV solar unit or grid electric power may also be needed.


Main Materials

Panel mounting racks: plywood (15mm/0.6in thick)

Front panel: polycarbonate sheet, 3mm/0.12in thick (You can use tempered glass, but it will make your solar panels much heavier.)

Insulation on the backside of the solar collector:  20mm/0.8in rock-wool

225 empty soda cans


Other Materials

Adhesive silicone, framing lumber, sheet aluminum, ducting, jar rubbers, mounting hardware, paint, fan



The solar collector's main ingredients are aluminum cans, painted matte-black (any soda cans will do: Coke, Pepsi, beer, and other pop cans). The top of each can is cut and bent to ensure maximum solar panel efficiency by improving the heat exchange between the pop cans and the flowing air.

The fan draws cold air from the room into the solar panel. The air goes through the filter and passes a one-way-pass-valve. Separate airflow-directing compartments (made of aluminum sheet 1 mm / 0.04 inches) distribute the air throughout the solar panel system.

The junction boxes are placed on the lower and upper part of the solar system. The bottom of the collector's housing is funneling the air into solar cells (tunnels constructed using pop cans). The air gets warm in contact with the solar cell wall. It raises and goes toward the output located in the upper corner of the room.

DIY solar panels are indeed sun-powered, but an electric system is still needed to drive the airflow. If you live in a remote place off the grid, you'll need to utilize solar electricity. Hook up a small PV solar panel or wind turbine to power the air blower.


New York, USA

UN Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable