Solar Heated Workshop Plans


A DIY solar heated workshop can become a practical addition to a Sustainable Living Homestead. The 400 sq ft array of MTD solar collectors use an active "trickle down" drain back system to harvest the sun's heat energy. 1800 gallons of solar heated water are concentrated and stored in a Multi Tank Heat Storage Vault, and an AC or DC Differential Controller is used to regulate the on/off flow of  water through the pump. This solar heated workshop may seem a bit extreme, but if you like the idea of using the sun's energy to facilitate energy independence and self sufficiency this workshop may just what you're looking for. As a matter of fact a 12 Volt Differential Thermostat Controller may be needed if you live in a remote area where PV power is your best option. A 16' wide solar heated workshop has a ridge roof pitched at 45 degrees to optimizes heat collection and provide valuable loft space. No need to go nuts and build an entire 30 foot wide solar home with a full basement. 


BUT weather you plan to build a house or a workshop be sure to plant your structure on a solid footing, raised well above ground level and use solar heated water to transfer heat. As you know water is an ideal heat storage medium. It's heat capacity is high, it's cost is low, it's safe and it's easy to transport from collector to heat storage tanks. Raising 30 drums of water only 220 F contributes about 300,000 BTU's. This means that  enough solar heat could be collected in a day to last two weeks in many cold climate locations. It also means that you'll be collecting more than enough heat to keep your toes warm and your hands clean. Storing heat in the concrete floor may be all you need to moderate temperature extremes, but then less heat would  be collected and the shop temperature would be unregulated. Of course 30 drums of solar heated water could be a blessing if you live in Alaska, where sunlight is a luxury and it could also be a blessing if your planning to dry fruit for a living.

BUT, BUT, Mr. John, I need more space and less heat. I don't plan to dry food for a living, and I don't need 30 drums of heated water inside my shop. Can we put them someplace else?

Yes we can. I must admit a multi-drum system may seem extreme and we could relocate the drums to a 3'x40' external, insulated enclosure adjacent to the workshop. The drain pipes from the MTD collectors gutters could then be connected to the end drums inside the external storage shed. This would provide a convent space for storing and regulating heat with a fan to blow shop air across the hot drums. Also remember that an external shed enclosure would be easy to maintain and the high temperature and low humidity inside the heat storage vault could be used to dry fruit and other organic gardening produce.  A heat storage vault like this provides an ideal environment between 100 F and 150F for the uninterrupted drying process of fruits and vegetables.  Apples can be dried in 24 hrs. Three apples weighed about 20 ounces. After being dried they weigh about 2 ounces but they still taste grrreeeaaattt!!!

Strawberries take less time to dry and bananas take a little longer and they all make a great snack.




January 8,2010                                January 10,2010

 Just wanted to show you what I did with my apples a few days ago... If you're reading this in the year 3,000 it would of course be more than a few days ago because I am making this entry on Jan 12, 2010. Anyhow the point is and I do have a can use your heat storage any time of the year for drying fruit.. Even though the outside temperature has been between 15*F and 35*F for the last week the heat storage chamber inside my little Sunshed has been between 80*F and 90*F. This may not seem very hot but this much heat in January produces an ideal dry environment for drying fruit. These are Golden Delicious and they are delicious.

The renewed interest in home gardening and food preservation is due to the high cost of commercially grown and commercially dried products. The use of an electric oven to dry food is nine times more expensive than a food canning process, but drying food with solar heat can be most cost effective. Early American settlers dried corn, apples, grapes and other fruits and vegetables as a practical means of preserving foods and surviving. Dried foods keep well because bacteria and other organism depend on water for their survival. Raisins, dates and prunes are commercially prepared with sun drying methods, but drying fruit with heat from a heat storage vault is more effective because the drying process is uninterrupted by temperature fluctuations due to the intermittent nature of sunlight. 

Solar Heated Workshop
MTD Solar Collector Kits
Solar Heating Controller
12 Volt Differential Controller   
Collector Efficiency

Trickle Down Solar Heating

MTD Solar Heating

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