What is a solar kiln?
How do you use this type of product?
How long does it take to dry wood in one?
A solar kiln is a structure intended to dry wood for construction, crafting, or wood fire purposes through the use of solar energy. Many types of green wood can be dried in this type of kiln without the need for electricity or gas.
These structures feature conductive materials that absorb solar heat and energy and reflect it for use in drying out pieces of wood. Some use specific roofing while others use specific flooring to make this happen. Still others have requirements for both the roof and floor.
The length of time it takes to dry wood in a solar kiln depends on the style of kiln and the size of wood to be dried. This option will take at least a couple of weeks in most instances, and usually closer to a month or more, but many factors change this.
If you’ve ever wanted to build a DIY solar kiln in your backyard, we’ve got you covered. In this article, you’ll find out how to construct a simple solar kiln with plans that can be quickly and easily altered to fit almost any situation or yard.
Read through the information below to find out more about how to build a solar kiln you can use in your backyard.
How to Build a Solar Kiln
These directions cover one of the many ways to build a DIY solar kiln you can use in your backyard. Don’t be afraid to tweak these instructions and use materials that work best for you.
Remember that your measurements will vary depending on the size of the raised garden bed you choose and the amount of space you have in your backyard to work with. No one set of measurements will work for every builder across the board.
This how-to guide is good for beginners as well as more intermediate or advanced builders. Since the plans can be easily changed depending on your needs and preferences, you can make this project as simple or as complicated as you like. Just be sure to stock up on the materials you need before you begin and you should be good to go.
Materials and Equipment Needed
- Raised garden bed
- Soil to fill garden bed
- Old cardboard or broken-down boxes
- Black plastic tarp
- Staple gun with staples
- 2×4 pieces of lumber
- Clear corrugated plastic roofing material
- Scissors for cutting plastic roofing
- Long piece of lumber the same length as the garden bed
- Hammer and nails
- Electric drill
1. Position a raised garden bed in your backyard with one of the long sides facing south.
2. Use the shovel to distribute or remove soil as needed until you have a deep recess in the garden bed with a slight raised perimeter of dirt.
3. Spread old pieces of cardboard along the bottom of the recessed portion of the raised garden bed.
4. Lay black plastic tarp over the whole garden bed and use the staple gun to staple it down.
5. Place 2×4 pieces of lumber evenly spaced across the black plastic tarp.
6. Nail the long piece of lumber into place along one side of the garden bed’s frame, about two feet off the ground.
7. Position the plastic roofing material at a slant, laying it over the long piece of lumber so that it angles downward and meets the other side of the wooden raised garden bed.
8. Cut the plastic roofing material to fit snugly against the sides of the garden bed’s structure.
9. Use a drill to make a pilot hole and then nail into place on the top of the roofing pieces.
10. Repeat on the bottom of the roofing pieces.
11. Use additional plastic tarp to cover any sides or sections of the DIY kiln that may allow rain to get through. Staple them into place using the staple gun.
12. Place the wood to be dried inside the kiln and wait for the sun to do the rest!
Solar Kiln Plans
Below, you’ll find a list of some of our favorite solar kiln plans. These are much more elaborate than the directions listed here and will help you complete a more permanent structure. Following these plans will require construction experience and the ability to use heavy-duty machines such as woodcutters to complete the job. These directions are for intermediate to advanced DIYers in most instances.
Simple Solar Kiln:
These plans are designed to give you the basics and help you figure out how to build the right kiln for your backyard or other property. The plans show you the general concept of the setup of a solar kiln but don’t give any additional measurements or materials. This way, you can choose what you want to use yourself and don’t have to feel too limited in your creativity.
Solar Kiln Vent:
These plans explain the use of venting and fans to help promote airflow and increase the amount of heat flowing through the kiln as well. This is a simple set of kiln plans that is easy to tweak and change according to your own vision and needs.
Solar Heated Lumber Dry Kiln Design:
This set of plans includes measurements you can easily adjust as needed. This offer also includes a storage section, a fan, and an adjustable vent for more airflow and quicker dry times. Additionally, it is set up on concrete, which is slightly different than most of the others on this list and helps aid in the heat conduction of the system.
Solar Kiln Design:
This kiln design features a raised structure with a sloped roof and a ramp. It includes plenty of insulation to get the job done and features a simple but effective reflection system.
This set of plans help you construct a high-quality solar kiln complete with insulated walls, a fan, and plenty of support beams to keep it in place. The plans include all the measurements and types of materials you need to build a permanent structure on your property.
Do you feel like you learned something useful about how to build a DIY kiln in your backyard? It can take some time to get the hang of building a structure like this, and the project can be challenging. However, by following these directions, you can create a solar kiln that will dry out any wood you may need to use.
What are some factors that can limit the effectiveness of your solar kiln, and what can you do to take care of them? Here are a few to keep in mind:
- The biggest concern is rain. Be sure to use durable materials that prevent rain from seeping into your kiln. You may need to replace the black plastic tarp walls with insulated foam walls instead.
- Garden beds may allow seedlings to sprout. Double or triple your black plastic tarp to prevent this from happening.
- Consider installing a fan if your wood isn’t drying out quickly enough.
With some trial and error, you can enjoy an excellent solar kiln in no time!