solar kiln

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Project by MattNC posted 06-24-2014 01:42 PM 4359 views 25 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the solar kiln I just finished this past weekend. Since I have a small sawmill this was the next thing needed. I made it to dry 300 or so boardfoot at a time. I made it so it tilts open but I think I’ll add a side door soon. I’ll load it with wood fairly soon and see how it works.

It’s completely off the grid and runs off a 30w solar panel and 12V attic vent fan. The idea is a downsized and modified virginia tech design. The vents in the back are made to allow the rate of drying to be controlled.

The construction is pine framed with foamular insulation as the panels. The collector is made from galvanized roofing and the clear panels are plexiglass. The top can lift off the insulated based (made from treated 2×6’s and ply), and the top weighs about 100lbs. The length is 10’ to accomodate my lumber which I saw at 9’.

20 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3716 days

#1 posted 06-24-2014 02:06 PM

Nice work. It will be interesting to see how it works so keep us posted.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View neverenougftackle's profile


195 posts in 2696 days

#2 posted 06-24-2014 03:35 PM

Me too !!!!

View pintodeluxe's profile


6205 posts in 3663 days

#3 posted 06-24-2014 05:25 PM

Nice work on the build, and keep us posted how it works. I suspect you may need to add more fans, but I like the fact that the fan is solar powered.
Good job.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 3291 days

#4 posted 06-24-2014 08:41 PM

Nice Matt. I built one of these this spring too. I’ve got a bunch of photos during the build – I just need to take time to write it up. We have some differences but the same basic concept. How many hours of direct sunlight are hitting your roof? It looks a bit shady in the photos.

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View MattNC's profile


45 posts in 2601 days

#5 posted 06-24-2014 09:00 PM

Randy, where it is at now it gets about 5 or so hours per day of direct sun. Not ideal but the best I could do to start. I might trim some trees to try to squeeze out an extra hour. So I imagine it will be slower than if I could get full sun all day but we’ll see how it does.

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1404 posts in 2483 days

#6 posted 06-25-2014 12:46 AM

I like what I see… but 100lbs… that’s a heavy top. I’d be loading from the back too.

Like the garden..

-- Jeff NJ

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3853 days

#7 posted 06-25-2014 03:38 AM

Great addition for the saw mill, keep us posted on how it dries

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View NinjaAssassin's profile


652 posts in 2574 days

#8 posted 06-25-2014 04:00 AM

Nice! I look forward to hearing how this works for you. Nice garden, too.

-- Billy

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3732 days

#9 posted 06-25-2014 06:42 AM

Very cool! I wish I had enough wood to dry to build one of these.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 3829 days

#10 posted 06-25-2014 08:42 AM

Great project and good use of sustainable energy

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View watermark's profile


484 posts in 2792 days

#11 posted 06-25-2014 08:45 AM

Nice work! looks about the same size as mine. I have the same set up with only 1 fan and it is doing well but would definitely benefit from another. Watch your collector to board feet ratio I over looked that and fried some of my first charge but it is simple enough to cover part of the collector to control it.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing how it goes.

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

View MattNC's profile


45 posts in 2601 days

#12 posted 06-25-2014 09:20 AM

Watermark, do you have any pictures of yours? I only get 1/2 day of full sun on mine so I wonder if the concerns about frying loads won’t be as big of an issue? I’ll watch the temperatures and drying rate and try to get the ratio right. Thanks for the heads up.

View woodshopmike's profile


226 posts in 2513 days

#13 posted 06-25-2014 12:02 PM

I’ve been wanting to build one of these for the longest time! I’m looking forward to seeing how everything goes. looks great!


View NinjaAssassin's profile


652 posts in 2574 days

#14 posted 06-25-2014 12:10 PM

Mike, how does the foam hold up? Do you notice any fragility? Where’d you buy the solar set up? All told, how much would you say you’ve got into this?

Sorry to pepper you with questions. I’ve been considering something like this recently (local sawmill has some pretty nice prices on “extra” lumber that’s still very green). The first time I read this, I somehow missed that the structure was mostly wood frame and rigid foam insulation (I just assumed you used plywood or something, too).

-- Billy

View Mike_from_Buffalo's profile


101 posts in 2735 days

#15 posted 06-25-2014 01:28 PM

Awesome! My family owns a sawmill too and I’d really like to hear how this works out for you.

-- Mike from Buffalo "A man spends the first half of his life learning habits that shorten the other half of his life."

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