Solar Energy Science Projects

Explore the science of solar energy with 20 experimental projects including: collectors, greenhouses, Trombe Walls, solar cars, batch heaters, heat storage systems, solar reflectors and more. See how Rudy Sullivan  deals with the Energy Crisis.


I. Science fair projects vary in difficulty, but these three are very popular. 

hot box, science project.1. HOT BOX  Build two solar hot boxes and conduct solar thermal experiments that demonstrate the greenhouse effect. Paint the inside of one black and the inside of the other white. Take temperature readings every minute in bright sunlight and plot graphs of your results. Explain why one solar hot box gets hotter than than the other. Use different glazings and repeat your experiments. 

solar collector science project.2. Solar Collector Science Project Build a solar collector and demonstrate how solar hot water can be made. This project is more advanced than the others and will cost you more in labor and money, but the results could be very impressive. 



3. SOLAR CAR  Build a solar car from a solar car kit for under twenty dollars. Explain the scientific principles of photovoltaic electricity . Experiment with light intensity.


II. Science projects using solar hot air.  

science project, solar greenhouse  

  4. Solar greenhouse  Build a passive solar greenhouse, experimental model. Measure temperature differences at various levels inside the greenhouse and trace the convective currents that push their way into the house.

 5. Trombe Wall Build a working passive solar heating Trombe Wall and demonstrate how it can add daytime heat to a house without loosing that heat at night.

 6. Active solar greenhouse  Build an active solar greenhouse. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of active and passive solar heating systems.

7. Active solar Trombe Wall Build an active solar heating Trombe Wall. Explain how it works.

8. Alternative solar housing   Design and build your own solar hot air heating system, collect data and explain how it works.


III. Science Projects  using direct heating for mild climates. 

9. Heat Gain   Design and build a direct gain solar greenhouse. Sometimes a solar greenhouse is only used to moderate greenhouse temperature swings so that plants can survive a harsh winter. Collect temperature swing data from a greenhouse with and without a heat storage tank. Explain the significance of your findings.

 10. Heat Loss  Direct gain heating systems have a high heat loss. Measure the temperature drop of a ceramic cup of boiling water over a period of thirty minutes. 


Science Projects using solar hot water for mild climates.

11. Simple Batch Heater A Bread Box consists of a direct- gain, direct-heating, passive solar hot water tank. The hot water stored in the tank is used to preheat household water. Build a simple Bread Box solar hot water heater, collect data and explain the advantages and disadvantages of this solar heating system.

12. Thermo Siphoning Batch Heater  Build a thermo siphoning system and demonstrate how it works. What problems would you expect when outside temperatures plummet below freezing? 


V. Science Projects for cold climates use active solar hot water systems.

13. Solar Hot Water   Build a display model of a closed loop solar hot water system to scale and use paint to make it appear real. 

14. Multi Tank Heat Storage Build a working model of a multi tank heat storage vault. Explain why multi tank systems exchange heat better than single tanks with the same capacity.

15. Energy Independent Housing  Design an energy independent house. How many collectors should you use. How big should the multi tank heat storage vault be? How many photovoltaic panels will you need?

  16. Radiant Solar Heating  Make a model of a radiant heating system. Explain why radiant heating is used for solar heating systems.

  17. Solar Thermal Roof Make a scale model of a house with a solar thermal roof. Calculate how much fuel oil energy it will save in a year.

 18. Solar Thermal Engine Design a solar thermal engine to work in harmony with a domestic solar heating system

19. Gallery of Solar Houses  Design your own solar house based on understanding of solar thermal principles.

20. Solar Reflectors  Parallel radiation may be concentrated with solar reflectors. A parabolic trough concentrates light on a line and a parabolic dish concentrates light on a point.  

solar reflector support


Strawberry Fields Solar Book Store
How to Build a Solar Hot Water System

Solar Collector Plans 
Energy Independent Housing 

Alternative Housing for the 21st Century 
 Active Solar    Passive Solar  
 Greenhouse Effect and the Solar Greenhouse  
Solar Energy the Alternative Energy of Choice

Heat Storage Vaults
Gallery of Solar Homes
Photovoltaic Electricity Animation
  Solar Water Heating Animation  
Our Sun and Our Future

Five Solar Thermal Principles

Solar Energy Facts

Solar Heating