Solar Power to the People

[Please read comments below the post, all new developments are reported there]

panel-measurement-01102015It is my pleasure to inform that on Sunday, 27.09.2015, in Anexartiti Protovoulia in Thermaikos we have fully assembled and installed (inside the office big window) first prototype of a passive air heating solar panel, developed by Morris Dovey, who was here in August to teach us how to build it. The panel is working very well despite the fact that it doesn’t exactly follow the design specification at I will probably provide temperature measurements (outside, inside-input, inside-output), as soon as I put my hand on 2-3 thermometers.

And here’s the photostory:

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I am really happy we managed to finish the ‘canonical’ prototype and it works. This is the kind of small, practical success needed to restore self-esteem and stamina among people.
Next steps (funds permitting): an advanced, sensory-saturated optimization lab unit; design mutation to use more standard parts; aberrations like an all-transparent module, Hexayurt wall section module, self-contained module to be placed on the roof, for example. Mass production DIY kit specs.

This is the beginning of huge project introducing open technology for Greek communities. If you want to watch it (and perhaps to help us) — stay tuned.

We now aim on
– preparing a measurement set (sensors to monitor temperature and airflow) which would tell us what is ACTUAL heating power of the device.
– building another prototype based on more standard parts (tailor-made metal fins accounted for half of the cost at the first time)
– building a lightweight version, for presentations in various places.
– building an externally mounted version, for the houses not having South-facing windows.

Each of these goals needs 200-300 Euro to be pooled. So if you want to help us with money, parts or tools, please contact me for arrangements.

For the full-blown account of this project, see Morris Dovey‘s page.

[Please read comments below the post, all new developments are reported there]


Turning stories into reality.

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Posted in In English, Technology
6 comments on “Solar Power to the People
  1. Petros says:

    OK, we have the ‪#‎solar‬ ‪#‎panel‬ up and running, pumping heat. Next step is to make it scientific (to calculate real heating power) and to start improvements in an orderly manner. We have ‪#‎Raspberry‬ ‪#‎Pi‬ to control it, but still need help.

    Raspberry Pi based solar heating panel monitoring — specification


    We have just assembled a first prototype of our Air Heating solar panel (details see here: The intention of the project is to provide all people (starting from Greece) free and efficient solar heating, at the minimal cost of installation and low maintenance.
    All solutions regarding this panel and it’s applications are freely available as public domain.


    It is visibly working: when there is sun shining on it, the temperature at the output is clarly higher than at the intake.
    Now, our goal is twofold:
    — to improve it, by experiments with various shapes, colors and sizes of heat absorbers.
    — to provide real data for everyone willing to use it, showing actual heating power generated over the time. No engineering without measurement.
    For both aspects, we need to be able to measure and register certain parameters.


    The idea is to set up a sensor system, controlled by the Raspberry Pi computer, providing data and calculations, available openly online.

    It will consist of:
    1. Raspberry Pi (we have it) as a main controller and server.
    2. SD card 16 G — as a disk drive for Raspberry PI
    2. Micro WiFi USB dongle — to connect the whole system to the internet, letting people watch it real time
    3. Temperature sensors (outdoor temperature, indoor temperature, Panel
    Section 1 intake/output temperature, Panel Section 2 intake/output
    temperature) — 6 in total, possibly or similar
    4. Airflow speed sensors (Panel Section 1/2 intake) — 2 in total
    5. Solarization sensor – single
    6. Power supply unit w/battery support.
    7. Sensor control software (Raspbian).
    8. Calculation software (calculating averages and heating power delivered by every section)
    9. Visualisation (web) software.

    Our needs

    We need specialist advice to find cheap and reliable components.
    We need support in the form of writing and testing the software.
    We need also donation of the missing equipment.
    If you are keen and willing to help us one of these ways, we will be grateful. Seting up the test and monitoring system will help us to develop better solar heating for all people. It will also help spreading the technology, by providing reliable data to the public.


  2. Petros says:

    Panel prototypes will be used for tests and optimalization. So, they will be installed as follows:

    1. The one with measurement system and modifiable section (for comparative tests) will be set indoor in the Association (Protovoulia) office, which has favourable localisation of window. Cost of completion: ~200 Eur (mostly electronics and set-up)

    2. The portable one, for presentations (100 * 50 cm, double glazing front, styrofoam box, standard venetian blinds as a heat absorber, carrying handles, simple monitoring system — 2 point temperature display) will be carried around to shows, meetings, presentations etc. Cost of completion ~150 Eur.

    3. The @hexayurt version (as a standard wall panel 120 * 120 cm, fitting any orientation af a plywood/OSB sheet) will be made on 16 mm wide absorber finns. It will be installed in the second hexayourt test site in Idoumeni transit camp, see “Deliverables” section at (the arrangements with Doctors of the World are in progress). Completion cost ~200 EUR, optional monitoring system — see item #1

    4. Simplified version of a basic panel, redesigned for mass kit production and assemble-it-youself installation. 25-50 mm standard heat absorbing finns, polycarbonate glazing, CNC machined softwood/OSB structural elements. To be presented and used as a training/promotional kit and for future certification. Cost of completion ~150 Euro.

    5. Piggyback chamber for #4, to allow the outdoor mounting. Includes extra chamber (styrofoam + thin OSB/plywood) added to the back of panel, insulated intake/output channels to connect the unit with the indoor space, solar-powered 12V circulation fan (desktop computer cooling type). Cost od completion ~ 100 Euro. To be presented with #4 as an option.

    So, while it can all be implemented step by step (and I made this list in the order it should be done IMO), the full program is at the level of 800 Eur, plus safety margin 20% which makes 960 EUR for parts, services and labor. Monitoring systems can be added as needed.

    As a result, we will have everything what is needed to start promoting panels as an “irregular” device (no official certification) for DIY and unofficial installations.


  3. Petros says:

    What we can provide to the world (almost now, and surely after completing the phase described above):

    1. All documentation will be made publicly available (Creative Commons CC-BY-SA) as soon as we make it complete.

    2. We can produce and ship DIY kits for people to assemble panels themselves.

    3. We can modify the design and test prototypes according to one’s needs (materials & tools available, skill level etc.) to allow one start local production without costly and time consuming trials&errors.

    4. We can accept people coming here for training, to teach them practical design, manufacturing and instalation of panels and other designs we plan to develop.

    5. We can start developing other prototypes upon one’s request, as long as they are within open technologies area.


  4. […] 45 See an example of locally manufactured open tech solar heating system, being introduced in Greece: […]


  5. Aspasia Anagnostou says:

    Guys congratulations!! Please keep posting about developments. I would be very interested in learning how one can do this alone. Keep up the great work and good luck!!


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