How To Make a Solar Heater (Tutorial)

I wrote several posts last week on how to reduce your heating bills this winter, in which I promised you all a tutorial on how to make your own solar heaters.  You can see that post series HERE, HERE and HERE.

We’ve made these solar heaters and are currently using them.  The rooms that have them stay significantly warmer than the other rooms in the house. I’d say they are warmer anywhere from 2-5 degrees.  That’s a significant difference that can definitely affect your heating bills this year.

Materials you will need:
Foam Board
Hot Glue and  Hot Glue Gun
Spray Adhesive Glue
Black Spray Paint
Plastic Film (pick up at your local home improvement or supercenter store)
Hair Dryer
Tape Measure
Pennies (or something else that is copper)
Packing Tape

Here are the schematics and steps to make this:

heater schematics

Step one: Cut out all of your pieces from the foam board.

solar heater 1

solar heater 2

solar heater 3

Step Two: Spray adhesive glue on the center cut board, and place your pennies or other copper material on there. We measured out and drew graph lines so that we could put all the pennies on evenly.

solar heater 4

Step three: Spray Paint Black.

solar heater 5

Step Four: Cut slots in the top and bottom pieces (the trapezoid ones) so that your heater can breath.  The top slot needs to be bigger than the bottom slot (see picture below).

heater slots

Step Five: Use hot glue and place the edges together like in the schematics picture. Be sure you seal all the edges with the hot glue.  Let dry.

Step Six: Put winterizing shrink wrap (plastic film) over the concave opening and use packing tape to reinforce the wrap.  Be sure not to cover your open slots in the top and bottom.  Blow with a hair dryer to tighten the plastic film.

solar heater 6

And there you have it. Place in your window to naturally heat up your room.

Final cost for three of these was: $30

Check out this video HERE, to see more details on how these work.

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  1. I am gonna try this, I have been looking for an easy way to reduce my carbon footprint.

    it’s not so much about saving money but that is a great benefit as well

  2. I’m curious do you think the plastic would let off poisonous gasses when it heats up?

  3. You know, that’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that. The plastic is made for being on windows normally, so I’m not sure what the companies have done to ensure that doesn’t happen. We may have too look into this.

    As an alternative you can cut Plexiglas to size and use it instead.

  4. live in a condo that says ‘no’ to anything in the windows. bummer…im definitely gonna pass this along though for other people. so creative. thanks…

  5. This is interesting..but don’t it look as if you have a board with spray painted pennies in the windows?

  6. I have made the same thing except I just take a piece of tin foil and spraypaint it black and then tape it right onto the window. I leave enough gap for me to pull the tim foil back up into the shape of the box. No need to worry about plastic emitting anything.

  7. My husband REALLY got into the whole energy preservation thing, and found a few great solar panel projects on Youtube (one of them involves empty soda cans). Yours actually look much easier!

  8. This is great! My livingroom is always colder than the rest of the place. I think I am going to try this.. we are first floor anyway, so you have to have something over the bottom part of the window so people cant see in.. I think I will make them to fit in both, then let the daylight in the upper part. Thanks for sharing!

  9. WOW!

    I recall a youngster on an American Indian Reservation that did the same and got the attention of Extreme Home Makeover.

    I bet having these will make a difference in comparison to last year’s heating bills.

  10. This looks really interesting. The only thing is that I have to convince my husband. I’m the thrifty one and I think he might balk at me putting this in the windows. A thrifty woman’s work is never done. 😉

  11. My husband is super excited about this. Going to head out tomorrow and buy the three things we need. Hopefully it makes a difference.

  12. What I did with this is that I used copper wire and spray painted that, it worked pretty good, this might be a good replacement for the pennies.

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