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ADVICE: Very small solar colector for basement windows

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Posted by Jay on November 17, 2004, 2:07 am
I have a fairly basic idea.
Please be gentle with this newbie! <grin>

It is fairly similar to a solar cooker.

Living in rental property and having little available cash is a strong

I would like to build one or two small solar collectors to go over my
basement window to have some heat gain to lower my heating requirements.
They are basic sliding basement window size and there are window wells in
front of each exterior.

The southern exposure is complete with no blockage.

I am thinking about glass front ( possibly double) with appropriate angle
and insulated sides.
I am thinking about thick foam insulation at the window and that it is
opened when the temperature is appropriate.

Any links, websites or other suggestions?

Posted by Morris Dovey on November 17, 2004, 2:38 pm
Jay wrote:

The amount of energy you can trap with a solar panel is
proportional to the area. For collectors as small as you describe
your investment in time, effort, and materials would be all out
of proportion to the benefits delivered. You'd probably do better
to spend (less!) on a window insulation kit.

Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA

Posted by Bill Kreamer on November 17, 2004, 5:46 pm
 Ditto the above advice. Also, a solar heater should not cover or otherwise
negate a window, which, if you cover it at night, makes a fair solar

Bill Kreamer


Posted by Steve S on November 18, 2004, 10:30 pm

While I would tend to agree with the other comments about size and
return, it might be possible for some worthwhile experimenting depending
upon the "lay of the land" around these windows.

If these basement windows had alot of unobstructed southern exposure
below them, then it probably would make sense to put together a fairly
large collector below the window(s) that used the window as the vent
into the house. However, since you mention that there are window wells
around the windows, I suspect that is going to limit the size of the
collector significantly, unless these wells are huge and/or not that deep.

If that is the case, then another possible project around these windows
would be to cover them and create a "pit greenhouse."  I would think
that poly pipe on rebar stakes would make for an inexpensive and
removable frame that you could cover in poly (again very removable).
Not exactly what you had in mind, but a solar project for that south face...


Posted by bigcat on January 22, 2005, 2:43 am

I think your looking at it ass backwards. An ordinary window is a very
efficient solar collector. The sun shines in, it turns to heat in the
room. It works.

Putting something in the way of the light will only reduce the
performance of a plain window.

If you want to use solar heating, you need to use reflectors to get
more light in through that window.


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