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"Solar Powered" Shop
Steven Ratliff, Spring Grove, Penn., used old sliding glass doors to build solar collector panels that he uses to heat his shop.
    "It's maintenance-free and keeps our farm shop comfortably warm at virtually no cost, even on the coldest winter days," says Ratliff.
    The solar collector panels cover almost the entire south wall of his 30 by 60-ft. machine shop. They consist of a series of sliding glass doors on the outside, with a thin black plastic curtain to absorb heat behind them that hangs from a length of rebar. The 6-ft. sq. glass doors and the curtain mount inside a 2 by 10 wooden frame that bolts onto the side of the shop.
    There's 12 in. of space between the window and the plastic, with cold air entering through a vent at each end of the 25-ft. long collector. The heated air is drawn in by a 2-ft. dia. louvered fan that sets inside a 1-ft. wide gap at the center of the plastic. The fan is hooked up to a thermostat and turns on whenever the temperature in the panel reaches 90 degrees.
    "Even if the outside temperature is only 10 degrees, as long as the sun is shining the temperature in the shop will rise by at least 50 degrees during the day. In fact, when the sun is shining the furnace doesn't even come on," says Ratliff.
    "I bought the sliding glass doors on Craiglist for $35 apiece. I open the windows to let the welding fumes out or whenever it gets too hot. In the summer I just slide the doors open all the way."
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Steven Ratliff, Ratliff Technical Services, Inc., 2818 Pine Tree Rd., Spring Grove, Penn. 17362 (ph 717 968-5366 or 717 744-1043; ratlifftechnicalservice@hotmail.com).

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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #3