DIY Solar Food Dehydrator is Cheap To Make Too

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You will see that the following is highly cost effective and is completely off grid! The detailed explanation that the author has incorporated into the following project is one of the best I have ever seen.  You will find the article easy to follow and extremely educational.

Food Dehydrator Chart

Materials List

• One 4-by-8-foot sheet of 3/4-inch plywood, exterior grade
• One 4-by-8-foot sheet of 1/4-inch plywood, exterior grade
• Five 1-by-6s, 8 feet long, pressure-treated
• Two 2-by-4s, 8 feet long, pressure-treated
• 2 wheels, 8-inch-diameter
• 36-inch-long, 1/2-inch-diameter steel axle
• 2 heavy-duty hinges
• Six 27-by-96-inch sheets of metal lath
• 3 square feet aluminum screen
• One 2-by-6-foot sheet of FRP (fiber-reinforced plastic)
• 30 square feet food-grade screening
• Heavy-duty aluminum foil, 25-foot roll
• 3/4-by-1/8-inch aluminum battens, 16 feet total length
• 1 1/4-inch No.8 exterior-grade Phillips flat-head screws (100 or more)
• 1 5/8-inch No. 8 exterior-grade Phillips flat-head screws (about 30)
• 1-inch No. 8 round-head screws (about 20)
• Eight 3/8-by-3-inch bolts, nuts and washers
• Four 3/8-by-4-inch bolts, nuts and washers
• 4 hook-and-eye fasteners
• 1/4-inch staples
• Exterior-grade latex paint and primer, any light color
• High-temperature spray paint, black
• Waterproof glue
• Silicone caulk
• Weatherstripping
• Shingles 

Tools List 

• Circular saw with rip guide
• Router with 3/4-inch straight bit and cutting guide
• Electric drill with No. 8 pilot-hole and countersinking bits
• 2 sawhorses
• Long straightedge
• Marking pencil
• Protractor
• Framing square
• Level
• Tape measure
• Staple gun
• Caulk gun
• Paintbrush
• Wrenches
• Tinsnips
• Utility knife
• Clamps
• Heavy work gloves

Step 1: Mark the Cutting Diagram 

Cutting Diagram

Most of the wood required for these solar food dehydrator plans can be cut from a single 4-by-8-foot sheet of three-quarters-inch-thick exterior-grade plywood. Measure and mark the plywood using the cutting diagram (above) as your guide. Note that the dryer sides are cut in a single piece so there’s no joint between the collector box and the drying chamber. You should mark the dehydrator’s sides on opposite edges of the plywood sheet to leave space in the center for the other pieces you’ll need.

The angle of the sides on this design is perfect for drying food at 36 degrees latitude in North Carolina. The unit will function well anywhere, though, offering maximal performance between March 21 and May 21, and from July 21 to September 21. If you prefer your food dryer to have the best possible angle for your latitude, refer to the suggestions in Table 1 (below). Here’s how to transfer a customized angle to the plywood sheet: Measure and mark 13 inches in from the corner on the edge of one long side, place a protractor on the mark, find the correct angle for your latitude on the protractor, and draw that angled line up from the mark to the adjacent short edge of the plywood sheet. The length of this line should be 30 inches. If you measure the line and discover it’s not 30 inches, move a straightedge to the right or left of the original line — and parallel to it — until you get a 30-inch-long line at the correct angle for your latitude, then mark the line again. Using the cutting diagram, measure and mark the remaining lines for both of the dehydrator sides, then fill in the empty space on the plywood sheet with lines for the vent covers and the front and back of the drying chamber.

Table 1: Dehydrator Angles for Different Latitudes

Latitude Degrees Angle in Degrees 
20 100
30 110
40 120
50 130
60 140

Step 2: Cut the Sides

Step 2

Place the marked sheet of three-quarters-inch plywood on top of two sawhorses and cut out the pieces using a circular saw. Be sure to cut straight lines because you want the dehydrator box to be airtight. Make plunge cuts when cutting out the angles of the drying chamber and roof for the dehydrator’s sides. After cutting out the two large sides, lay one on top of the other and check to see if they’re the same size and shape. If not, mark the areas that are different and trim the larger piece with a circular saw so that both sides match. Cut the remaining components from the plywood sheet, and prime and paint the interior and exterior of all wooden pieces to reduce warping which could create an air leak.

Both of the projects above are superb example of diy solar food dehydrator projects.  If you would like to experiment and discover if food dehydrating is something you would like to consider then the first project is an ideal place to start.  One of the first questions to ask yourself is why.  For myself I believe that you can lock in much of the nutritional value of food using this method.  I know a lot of people have different reasons, one being the ‘in case of an emergency’ situation that a lot of us have concerns about.  Whatever your reasons remember there is nothing better than sharing your ideas which you can do here or on our Facebook page!


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