Peter Rowan left his job as a “corporate weenie” in 2010 to live a life with less stuff and fewer expenses and with more time to pursue his dreams.
Since downsizing his life, he’s begun writing fiction from home (in addition to a teaching gig) so for a bit more privacy, this year he decided to single-handedly convert the family’s unused garage into his off-grid writing retreat. Crafting it mostly out of repurposed materials, he decided to heat it using a home-made, recycled can solar panel.
After collecting 275 cans (soda, juice, mineral water, and beer), he began to drill holes into the ends, glue them together and fit them into a box crafted from plywood and 2 by 4’s. Adding a bit of black spray paint and some plexiglass, he created his home-made solar panel. He salvaged a couple of fans from an old computer to create a system for pushing cold air into the solar panel and pushing the hot air out and into his office.
In this video, Mary Rowan used her iphone to film her husband’s month-long process of building a solar heater with recycled cans. Granted Seattle may not be the ideal spot for solar, but Peter says that it seems to heat up the space by about 5 or 6 degrees even on a “crummy day” and when the sun is out it can provide too much heat.
Instructions for building a solar heater with recycled cans:
Peter’s fiction writing: