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Homemade solar dehydrator

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KiwiMum View Drop Down
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    Posted: January 07 2022 at 12:13pm

We made a homemade solar food dehydrator. We wanted a really large one because we like to dry fruit and when a tree's ripe, it's all ripe at the same time. So we made dehydrator. It consists of a small wooden wardrobe, the type that was popular in the 1930s, it's about 4 ft high and has two door and a hanging rail and a couple of drawers. The important thing was it was solid wood. 

We took out the rail and the shelves and moved the vertical partition to the middle. On each side we fitted runners that can take flat trays of food to be dried, and these start 8 inches from the floor and are spaced 5 inches apart, so we have about 15 on each side of the cupboard. On the top we fitted a large steel roof to keep the rain off the structure, and we raised up the cupboard to sit on legs so it's about 18 inches from the ground. 

We got an old window and fixed it onto a box that's about 6 inches deep and the same size as the window, and we painted the inside of the box black, so that sun shines through the glass into the black box and heats up the air in there rapidly. This window/box arrangement is on the floor on the sunny side of the cupboard and is angled up a bit to really catch the rays. The hightest point of the window box has 4 large holes drilled in it, about 3 inches in diameter, and there are corresponding holes in the base of the cupboard, and the sets of holes are joined by black flexible pipe so that the hot air rises and comes up into the cupboard. 

In the top of the cupboard we've drilled a similar big hole and have stuck a piece of pipe through that and up the side of the roof so that it sits in full sunshine. This acts as a solar chimney. The pipe heats up and the air inside it warms and then rises out through the chimney, drawing up air from the cupboard. It creates a convection flow. Without convection the cabinet won't work. 

In the very base of the cupboard I have placed a number of large river stones, about 7 or 8 inches in diameter, and they are there to absorb heat so that when the sun goes down they will release their heat into the cupboard and stop condensation. 

The final thing to so is to make sure that all holes are covered in mosquito mesh to stop fruit flies, and that the top of the chimney is protected from rain with a little hat. Also paint the outside of the cupboard with exterior grade paint to make it waterproof. 

Today, it being hot and sunny, I am harvesting herbs for some remedies that I make every year. I also have a thermometer in the dehydrator but want to upgrade it to a min max thermometer so I can check the temperature it falls to overnight.

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