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When the sun shines (no matter what the temperature is), the cans warm up quickly, producing warm air inside, this warm air is then transferred into the room by fans!
Enter your email address into the form below and click "Subscribe" to receive the best of DIY Home World delivered direct to your inbox. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. In this article you can learn step-by-step how to create your own solar cellphone charger from material scraps. If you’re interested, there is a way to make your own wind turbine in the comfort of your home. If you regularly browse through our website, you must’ve come across the hydrogen fuel cell and its wonders.
Our goal is to give people all the information they need to create their own eco-friendly devices powered by renewable energy. The team behind this blog is also working every day to find the latest news regarding environment and renewable energy. Skylights are commonplace, but I was thinking about something on the order of 8ft x 20ft (a little bigger than your average skylight).
I decided to accept the risks, confident that I’d be able to find solutions to any problems that arose.
I cut pieces off the roll and bent them between an improvised sheet metal brake made from two pieces of aluminum bar clamped together.
A view of the flashing at the top of the panels prior to installing the final rows of shingles.
In February of 2008, before experimenting with any solar thermal collectors, I decided to measure the temperature in my solar attic.
Impressive though this data may seem (about 40°C peak with outside temperature around 10°C), it’s not particularly useful. My priorities have shifted over the past 7 years and I have yet to install any type of mechanism for transferring heat from the solar attic to the home below. Because I was worried about the attic overheating in the summer, I installed two awning windows at opposite ends of the attic. The first summer, when I opened the ventilation windows and returned to the attic access hatch to descend from the attic, I was struck by the strong draft rising through the hatch from the house below. I will admit it is only anecdotal evidence but summers certainly do feel cooler in the house now compared to before installing the solar attic.
In theory I can improve the cooling capability of the current setup by adding some thermal mass (ex water barrels) in the attic. In my lower attic (above the garage) I’ve experimented with growing lettuce, tomatoes and peppers.
Even though tomatoes and peppers like the heat, it takes a lot of effort to keep them well watered. The great thing about the roof is I can experiment with lots of solar collection methods underneath without committing to anything up front. I then put some flat sheets of slightly opaque fiberglass in the ceilings of hallways, the shower, and over the kitchen. This is just a thought, but I wonder if it would be a good idea to first experiment with your Solar Attic as an air heating collector? The advantage would be that it could be very simple — little more that some enclosure and a couple ducts and a blower. I guess this is a bit selfish on my part, but I would really like to see how it performs as an air collector, and how happy you are with the distribution of heat and whether is has any tendency to overheat the house or not. When experimenting with water heating solar collectors in the attic, I saw apparent efficiencies on the order of 150 to 200% (ie the amount of heat absorbed by the collector was 1.5 to 2 times the amount of solar energy that actually hit the panel). Where is this roof that gives 30-40 degree heat and can you give an idea of the size of it.
I painted my roof black, covered it with toughened glass from the recycle shop, then fan the hot air from under the iron down in to the house.
The house is always 20 deg C in the mornings, even though outside temps drop below 5 deg C.
A client has just given me a kitchen extension brief which includes an active (fans) solar roof and Trombe wall combined (the Trombe wall is higher). I have a 4×8 pop can solar collector outside my garage that has a blower with a attic fan sensor to turn on and off the fan.
I have some 20year old installations of that polycarbonate roof and nothing but praise for the material. Looks like this could work if you pump the hot air that collects in your attic into your house on a sunny cold day.
There is at least 6″ of insulation between the attic spaces and living spaces in my home. I just want to thank you for all the great information you have put up here…truly interesting. I came across this project when searching for converting attic into greenhouse with potentially using the attic flooring as green roof.

It’s so simple, it will save you money on your bills and help you lead a more self-sufficient lifestyle! As it turned out, this was fairly easy to do for no more cost that that of the roofing material it offset. I had seen a few backyard greenhouse installations using transparent PVC that looked horrible (warped, faded, and mildewy) after a few years. The installation instructions called for drilling oversized screw holes to allow for thermal expansion of the panels. Not only that, but I decided to build two transparent sections of roof, the other being in an east facing roof over my attached garage. The main roofing material you’ll see in the following photos is a product called Enviroshake which is made from recycled tires. We were careful not to cover any screw heads so the panels can be easily replaced if necessary. I measured at 3 hour intervals over a 24 hour period using a digital weather station with logging capabilities.
It only indicates the maximum stasis temperature of the attic (with no solar thermal collectors in place and no heat being extracted into my home). I’ve already experimented with building a flat panel solar collector for water heating. I do an inspection at least once a year during a heavy rainstorm and I usually find 2-3 screw heads that are dripping water into the attic. However, I have experimented with simply installing a fan in the attic access hatch and blowing attic air down into the home when the attic is warmer that the house. I can open these windows in the summer to provide additional ventilation and close them in the winter to capture more heat.
However, it’s possible I could have achieved much the same benefit without the solar attic simply by adding extra attic ventilation and opening the access hatch in the summer. Lettuce does well in the early spring, and late fall when it’s too cold to grow outdoors, but does not do well in the heat of the summer. So my plans may change, but my current one is to install solar water heating panels (either commercial or home made) under the transparent roofing. I’ve been a follower since I first read your solar barn article in Home Power Magazine several years ago. I did the simplest possible experiment and installed a blower in the access hatchway, just blowing air down to the floor below.
In other words, the collector was functioning more like a heat exchanger than a solar collector. Just working on a project in the UK and this sort of simple solution would be great although the heat available would be far less.
A few drips around some screw heads at first (maybe 1 out of every 20), but they were relatively easy to fix (just removed the screw, deburred the hole with some sandpaper and replaced the screw).
I also put a bathroom exaust fan in my garage attic to blow the warm air down into the garage when it also warms an attic fan sensor. I installed a small 1500cfm blower in the center near the top of this greenhouse that would blow the hot air down below the concrete floor.
I am constructing a house in the Himalayas at an altitude of 6,000ft where heating is required in the nights even in summer…. I thought of doing this myself and after several months of thoughts about the building of it..
I am thinking about getting an old house and use the money saved compared to move-in ready house towards upgrades like this. There is large section of south facing roof on my house over top of an uninsulated attic crawlspace. Polycarbonate has a much higher softening temperature so I was hoping it would not suffer from warping, and I had read that it would not fade. This roof has a large enough space underneath it that people can walk around reasonably comfortably. We’ve also had some severe wind storms that have had no noticeable effect on the roof.
Before doing that, I want to pull up all the insulation and check that the building envelope is well sealed everywhere.
I think things can shift around a lot due to thermal expansion and contraction of the panels. This does a good job of overheating the top floor of my house while leaving the bottom floor cold.
That is, the heated air in the attic was rising and exiting through the open ventilation windows. That being the case, I might experiment with some simpler designs, focusing only on moving heat from the attic rather than absorbing sunlight (the solar attic already does a pretty good job of that).
The house stays warm all night with heat stored in furniture, walls, books, everything in the house is warm. It might help to have an additional layer of glazing, say a thin sheet of plastic sealed to the backside of the rafters. I am building a 20×24 ft storey and a half garage with a 45 degree roof with one slope squarely facing south. With ventilation windows closed, the maximum temperature should be more than 30 degrees C above ambient (since I measured 30 degrees C above ambient in February when the sun is low on the horizon).

Given that I didn’t expect the polycarbonate material to last nearly that long, I made sure the panels could be easily removed and replaced without disturbing the surrounding roof. The roof was designed for the appropriate snow load for our region, but it still seems a bit flimsy?
I was a little worried that with thermal expansion and contraction of the panel, leaks might develop. As for leaks, some of the screw holes (about 1 in 50) did leak, but on closer inspection it was the result of burrs left over from the drilling process.
The installation of the polycarbonate panels was the interesting part so that is what is shown in the photos below. However, I don’t trust that design for permanent installation since it is too prone to leaks. I have been contemplating more definite solutions to this problem (if you know of any please leave a comment), but so far it hasn’t been so bad to just adjust the couple screws that start dripping each year until they stop dripping. I installed a solar powered exhaust fan under one of the existing attic vents to lower the temperature a bit. From there it can be circulated through radiant heating tubes under the main floor (accessible quite easily by crawlspace in my home). This was an open system, drawing outside air into the attic, heating it and blowing it down into the top floor… not very efficient, but probably better than using the same power directly for space heating.
Stuff can get very very dry with obvious risk especially with curved surfaces and water pools as lenses (seen it).
It would have to be baffled or have flow channels, but I imagine you could achieve additional heat gain from this insulated layer, as well as stop night-time convective losses back out of the glazing. This enabled transfer of solar heated air from the hot greenhouse to the thermal storage below. I hope to follow your experience with the Polycarbonate sheets on at least half of that slope. Perhaps it might reach 40 degrees C above ambient in the summer which could be around 70 degrees C (ambient temperature rarely exceeds 30 degrees C here). Thus, the transparent roofing installation didn’t need to be air tight or offer significant insulation for the space underneath.
Normally these types of panels are used for greenhouses and small leaks probably aren’t that big a deal.
I also thought it was a good way to test out construction methods since the outside of this roof is barely visible from the ground unlike the south facing attic roof which is very visible.
After deburring the leaking screw holes, the rubber washers sealed properly and I haven’t had any problems since. A true solution should be a closed system (not drawing outside air into the home) and should circulate heat down to the 1st floor. Cold nights should not draw significantly more heat from the house than before since the attic space was already outside the building envelope and it was already vented.
Unfortunately there isn’t a convenient place to run a proper duct to move the hot air all the way down to the first floor. I can plant them in my solar attic almost two months earlier than I can outside and I don’t have any problems with weeds or pests.
If anyone is interested in non invasive methods I have Hundreds of high contribution ideas that pay back quickly.
When it is about 30 f outside and it is sunny the garage warms up to about 50 f, With the wall insulation the garage is about 40 f in the morning. As opposed to using corrugated polycarbonate, I want to use 4mm twinwall in two layers (4″ apart).
The thermal storage was connected to intake air from the basement and was connected to the return air near the heating furnace.
Most rooftop solar heating installations involve mounting flat panel collectors to the outside surface of a finished roof. Unfortunately there isn’t a convenient place to run an air duct to move hot air all the way down to the first floor, so my solution (if I ever get around to it) will likely use water to circulate the heat. I thought since I was going to put on a new roof anyway, I would build my solar installation directly into the roof, offsetting some of the roofing costs. There is a product called Suntuf which is a corrugated transparent polycarbonate roofing panel often used for greenhouses. However for this attic situation and, as one of your previous readers commented, just add a sheet of plastic across the rafters underneath the corrugated sheets to give you the double glazing effect and, I would add, seal the ends between the corrugated sheet and the plastic sheet with some polyiso insulation.
Being a tinkerer at heart, I did not want to commit the entire space to any one type of solar heating solution. There are cheaper transparent PVC panels that are commonly used in do-it-yourself projects, but PVC has too low a softening temperature and tends to fade with time.
Then I could experiment with whatever type of collector I could dream up simply by mounting it under the roofing, between rafters. Polycarbonate panels don’t have these drawbacks and are worth the additional expense.

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