Off-Grid Farming: Build Your Own Solar Dehydrator

A solar dehydrator is a great tool to put in your off-grid farm or garden. When you reap a bumper crop, this tool will provide a good option for long-term storage. It is simple to build and very useful. This is how I built one.

You can certainly buy all new materials, but this is a great project to use recycled materials. The first thing you need to find is a large piece of glass. A sliding patio or shower door works great. Once you have the dimensions of the glass, you can start building.

To maximize solar gain on your dehydrator, build the body of your dehydrator facing south. A cabinet roomy enough to contain several shelves and to hold the glass should be built. The glass should then be placed at an angle of about the degree of latitude where you live.

Now that you’re catching a lot of sun, the idea is to keep some heat in and create airflow for a warm, dry breeze to blow through. To conserve some of the solar heat I recommend insulating the walls with rigid foam or any insulating material; even balled up newspaper will do. Once your insulation is secure, it’s best to paint all interior walls with flat black paint.

Now let’s find that breeze. As the air inside the dehydrator heats up, it will want to rise. Allow it to do this by making sure there is a small air vent at the bottom and also at the top of the dehydrator in a way that will draw air past your trays. The bottom vent is easy to do, but the top vent will need to be designed so that hot, dry air can get out but rain can’t get in. Install a piece of metal flashing to accomplish this goal.

Now just put on some wire racks or any shelving that allows air to pass through and build the back of the cabinet with doors wide enough to easily access your shelves.

Happy dehydration!

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