Posted April 21, 2010
by Lensyl Urbano
For real experiential learning, projects should have useful, practical applications. This passive, solar heat collector window unit seems pretty easy to build (you’ll find out more about it in about a week). It’s passive because there are no fans to push the air through the collector, the air flows through it because of the hot air in the upper channel rises, creating a siphoning effect that drags cool air into the lower chamber. With a couple solar cells and spare electric motors from some toy cars, however, we should be able to turn it into an active, forced-convection heater. What’s nice, is that we can now demonstrate two methods of capturing solar energy.
This project may also work well if it’s split into two, the solar collector and the photoelectric fan system, and at the end the students bring them both together to create a single unit.
Directions to build similar units can be found on the Build it Solar website and the Solar Heater page. Mother Earth News has an article from 1977 on how to construct one. These images were produced from a Google SketchUp model, which is really useful in trying to prototype little constructions like this. Though, I probably spend too much time trying to get the models to look just right.
The Build it Solar website is a great resource for practical solar projects.