Making a Solar Dehydrator

On the Road...

I made a solar dehydrator whilst traveling around in the van. During the hot Californian summer, I decided to make use of the suns energy. This meant I could make delicious crackers, cakes and dried fruits while we were stationary by just popping the dehydrator on the roof while we were hiking or out for the day. Upon return we had our next meal...

 I started by collecting random bits and pieces from a 'thrift' store. All the pieces fit together perfectly. I took the principles of a solar dehydrator and applied them to a smaller, more random project.
A solar dehydrator needs to be painted black, to draw in the heat of the sun, have a glass panel, directed towards the sun to harness and capture the suns energy, and have ventilation holes, usually at the bottom and top, to ensure adequate airflow.

 I found an old tray with removable panels, a glass photo frame, a baking tin and a wire cooling rack at the thrift store. I then brought some non-toxic black paint and hinges.

 Removing the photo from the frame, I glued the glass panel in place and applied black tape to the outer edges.
 As we were sitting in the midst of a beautiful pine forest in California, I took some time to 'drill' holes into the tray with my knife. This was a very 'zen' process, and it was lovely to have no hand tools and really feel the DIY of the project!

 5 holes on the bottom of one side, and 5 holes on the top of the other. I did this to hopefully create an airflow current which would flow in through the bottom (sucking in cool air) and flowing through the food in the dehydrator before flowing out the holes at the top (sucking out the hot air). This would allow the food to dry properly and no condensation, moisture or mold to form during the process.

The next step was to paint!
 I applied a few coats of black paint every time we stopped the van.
 Another stop and, with the help of my partner, attached the hinges to the tray and photo frame with my new multi-tool! The two fit together perfectly!
 And there you have it! The photo frame lifts so I can place food inside, face the dehydrator towards the sun, and let the renewable source of energy do its thing!

 It happened to work well that there were panels that I could slot into the inside of the tray and place the wire rack on top, meaning the air would flow underneath the foodstuffs.

 Mixing buckwheat, black sesame seed, flaxseed, pipetas, pumpkin seeds, onion, cumin seed, salt, cayenne pepper and water in a bowl I then rolled the mixture out onto some baking paper and placed it in the dehydrator.
After half the day I removed the baking paper from underneath and let the crackers air out in the dehydrator, ensuring they were adequately dried.

And there you have it! Crackers on the road, a fun project, problem solving with thrift store bits, and using renewable energies!
This is not a traditional solar dehydrator, although you can look plenty of plans and photos up online.
I like to recycle bits and see if I can apply the same principles for similar results.
Very happy with this little project, although I don't think I will be able to take it home with me on a plane! Perhaps some other traveling soul will like to make some crackers though...


Popular Posts