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Detailed blog of my progress building a solar heating system for my workshop in 2001
- and continuing changes and improvements. 
Updates occur as I improve and re-design my system.
Also, here is a page documenting my sustainable living efforts

I wrote a detailed 10 page article about the construction of my system for the June/July 2002 issue of
Home Power Magazine logo
If you are interested in: making your own electricity from renewable energy, alternative vehicles, or finding out the latest in related technologies and life-styles, then this publication can keep you up to date.

You can download a copy of my original Home Power article - and the follow-up article from 2007 from my site by clicking on the images below:

Guy in front of solar heated barn

This blog details every step that I have taken to construct my solar augmented heating system.

The design goal for my solar augmented heating system is that it should be capable of heating the building to 65 inside so long as the outside temperature remains above freezing and there are good clear sunny days.  Before I started re-construction of the building I had a heat load analysis done based on the intended final construction.  This included allowing for the increased insulation, and interior thermal window inserts.  This solar heating system has performed exactly as intended, and only draws propane on cloudy days or when temperatures drop below 35F - which is for several months through the Maine winters.  As you'll see I later added a wood stove so that I could reduce my fossil fuel consumption for heating the building.  I began by using wood scraps from my workshop, and later scrounged wood from construction sites.  Starting in 2010 I have begun cutting my own firewood and splitting it.  This ends up being effectively carbon neutral since trees eventually die and decay releasing their stored carbon.  all I am doing and shortening the carbon cycle by burning the wood.

The net result of all this effort is a continuing decline in my use of propane to heat the building.
July 18 installing soffit vent
July 23 insulating the barn, day 1
July 24 Insulating barn etc., day 2
July 25 installing radiant floor
July 26 plumbing the heating system manifold
July 30 pouring concrete in the barn
July 31 framing and installing barn doors
. . .
October 2 Building the solar shed onto the barn
October 3 Roofing the solar shed
October 5 Solar shed progress
October 6 Installing solar collectors
October 9 Plumbing the solar collectors and manifold
October 11 Plumbing solar heat exchanger etc.
October 14 Installing the Aquastar propane backup water heater
October 16 Sweating the radiant floor pump manifold
October 17 Filling the solar system
October 18 Solar system shakedown - more work needed
October 20 Heat at last!!!
October 24 Heating system upgrades + woodworking
. . .
November 21 Solar system final tweaks
. . .
January 2: Clearing snow off the collectors

May 23, 2002: Home Power article - feedback on my design
. . .
September 21, 2002: Added 2 more solar collectors
September 23, 2002: Added Differential Temperature Controller
October 29, 2002: Installing 2nd floor radiators
November 8, 2002: Pump timers and controls upgrade

February 20, 2003: Over pressure fix
November 17, 2003: Pump cavitation issue
November 19, 2003: Air venting and system pressure

December 13, 2004: Frozen antifreeze!

April 2, 2005: Replacing expansion tank
October 18, 2005: Installing stove pipe for a wood stove backup
November 18, 2005: Installing wood stove

May 21, 2006: Thinking cool - installing solar attic vent
September 24, 2006: Re-plumbing manifold

August, 2008:
Insulating the exterior of the frost walls
October 2008: Adding a heat recovery ventilator

December 2010: Moved solar panel away from tree shade + replaced expansion tank
December 2010: Added a real-time statistics page

 Lessons Learned
Propane consumption annually
Some before and after images

Some notes on sustainable living, and our efforts.


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