DIY Solar Dehydrator

A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Solar Dehydrator

Why Build a Solar Dehydrator?

In our journey towards sustainable living, we found a need to preserve the abundant harvest from our orchard. A solar dehydrator became our solution, allowing us to dry fruits and nuts efficiently, using the power of the sun. This guide aims to empower you with the knowledge to construct your own, enhancing your self-sufficiency and reducing food waste.

To craft a solar dehydrator that’s both effective and durable, we leaned into the wisdom of vertical design. Our dehydrator, standing 2 feet wide by 6 feet tall, benefits from the natural rise of hot air, making it more efficient. It houses 13 shelves. The frame is constructed from sanded on one side plywood available to us, though metal would have been a preferable choice for its durability and heat conduction properties. Recycling is important to us and we work to use what we have on hand before buying anything new.

The shelves, spaced 2 inches apart for ease of access, are outfitted with regular screen and topped with food-grade mesh. This dual-layer setup simplifies cleaning and handling of dried produce. In retrospect, closer shelf spacing might have been more efficient for drying a larger volume of produce. This design journey has taught us the balance between functionality and maintenance, ensuring our dehydrator serves us well across the seasons.

Downdraft Dehydrator: Amazing Air Flow

Discover the ingenuity behind a downdraft solar dehydrator: the journey of air begins (1) with a cleverly designed solar pop can wall heater that preheats the air, (2) making it lighter and hotter as it rises. (3) This hot air then enters the top of our dehydrator, absorbing moisture from the fruit as it circulates down. The moisture-laden air, now heavier, (4) exits through the bottom, (5) drawn out by the black stove pipe that heats quickly in the sun, thus initiating the airflow. To enhance the process, we’ve incorporated computer fans, powered by solar panels, to keep the air moving consistently for an efficient drying cycle.