Solar Fan

May, 2013

The Master Closet in my house has a nice semi-circle window that catches mid-day and evening light from the sun.  In the heat of the summer, this direct sunlight really raises the temperature in the closet.  I attempted to filter the light with a decorative film which does help a bit, but not enough.  I thought it would be fun to build a solar powered fan to circulate the air in the room during the heat of the day by taking advantage of the direct sunlight.

I found some inexpensive solar cells at Fry’s Electronics while on a business trip.  Sadly, there are no Fry’s stores near my house or I would visit more frequently – it is a geek paradise!  I had some nice fans salvaged from a dead PC.  I soldered some headers onto a small perf board and soldered leads to connect them all together.  I had some extra HDPE and Plexiglas left over from another project, so I cut them to size for the mounting of the solar panels and fans.  I used my Dremel Stylus to carefully cut out air holes in the Plexiglas and drilled holes for mounting screws.  It’s hard to see in the photos because it’s transparent.  I used old PC standoffs to mount the solar panels so I could easily pop them off if I ever needed to.

To polish the project off, I splurged and bought some modular mounting brackets for the solar panel stand so I could easily adjust the angle.  After much research, I settled on RAM Mounting Systems.  I was delighted to discover that they were inexpensive, yet durable and modular – perfect for my needs.

Overall, the fan works well.  Most of the time, the solar panels are only giving enough power to spin one fan – the other just rocks back and forth trying to get started.  I think a bigger solar panel would give me the extra voltage I need, but I’m happy with the results for now.


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