Anyone use Solar to heat their coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by davekrista, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. davekrista

    davekrista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My husband and I are researching the possibility of building a solar panel and using it to heat our coop during the day. We don't have electricity in our coop, so we'd have to run an extension cord from the house outside to the coop. But I have concerns on keeping an electric heater out there for fear they could get burned by it, if they got to close to it. Also I can just imagine how high my electric bill would be having a hearter on 24/7 for the entire winter.

    I have found some pretty creative, cheap way to build your own solar panel using aluminum cans (like soda cans). Also some designs using other materials as well.

    Does anyone use solar heat in their coops? Just curious how its working for you? I think its a great concept, and with sites like craigslist and freecycle, I think it would be fairly inexpensive to do.

    Here is a link to a site that uses other materials but still looks pretty easy http://mobilehomerepair.com/article17solar.htm
    Here
    is a link to a site that uses the aluminum cans - its a video step by step - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqxQFWaKN2Y

    Please
    let me know your thoughts.
     
  2. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you sure you even need supplemental heat? Most breeds of chickens (the standard size ones, surely) do fine in even very cold winter weather as long as they have a dry, draft free place to roost with adequate ventilation.

    Chickens deal with cold much better than they can deal with the heat, because they come with down jackets already installed.
     
  3. TheGardenCoop

    TheGardenCoop Out Of The Brooder

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    Cool links. You could also think about making the coop itself a solar collector, with a translucent roof or windows on the henhouse and a dark color and/or thermal mass on the inside to absorb and retain the heat.
     
  4. JustOneMore

    JustOneMore Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm not sure where you are located. I am in upstate NY and here are my thoughts as we prepare for our first winter with our hens.

    We've done a lot of reading and have spoken with others who keep birds up here. Everyone we have asked has advised to NOT heat the coop. The birds will acclimate to the cold as the temps go down during the fall/winter. If you heat the coop then the birds will not have the same cold tolerance. The concern is that if the coop is heated with an electric source they'll have no heat if/when the power goes out ... a definite concern where we are as on rare occasion we lose power for a day or two.

    I think solar is a great idea however ... on stormy/dark days there wouldn't be any heat.

    Just my thoughts, for what they are worth.
     
  5. davekrista

    davekrista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    JustOneMore - We're in Massachusetts, so not far from you. This is my first winter have the girls, so I'm not sure what to expect. I was expecting to run a cord out anyway for nights, but was hoping to minimize the electric heater by the solar during the day. So I was also thinking on the cloudy days to use the heater as well. We are using our shed as a chicken coop, so I'm not sure how insulated it is, or how much of the elements will be kept out... I know the roof leaks in spots, but my husband assures me that will be fixed before it gets too cold or snowy. I don't have much confidence in him getting the roof repaired before the cold and snow, which is why I was thinking about the solar panel.
     
  6. tasymo

    tasymo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree that heating your coop is not necessary, however, I am interested in a smaller scale solar panel that would keep their water from freezing, and maybe provide light inside the coop to maintain egg production.
     
  7. JustOneMore

    JustOneMore Chillin' With My Peeps

    When I was growing up (25+ years ago) we had OEG chickens and they just lived in the barn with my horse. There wasn't heat but it was dry. The run-out door was always open so I would expect that it was pretty drafty in there. I never lost a bird to anything but predators in those days.

    Fast forward to the chicks we brought home this spring. With predator issues of the past still fresh in my mind we built a coop and large bird yard and put it behind the house. If anything does want to get to the birds I am hoping the dogs will alert us. I have seen fox and coyote in the front meadow but so far the birds have been safe.

    I have been watching weather and how air circulates in the back yard. (The coop is somewhat protected by trees and a steep hill.) We will be putting up a wind block tarp on the side that weather tends to come from. Our coop is raised and I want to put some hay bales underneath it to help insulate from the cold.

    We ARE putting a water heater out there. Unless I hear otherwise, the plan is to use one of those that the metal waterer can sit on.

    I think that keeping them dry is critical. Perhaps even a tarp on the roof would help to block water from running in if a complete fix can't be done before the weather changes.
     
  8. davekrista

    davekrista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here are some pics of our coop/shed..... we converted half our shed to be a coop for them.

    This is the outside right -
    [​IMG]

    Outside front
    [​IMG]

    Inside front where we use as a shed to keep tractor - has a window to peak in on the girls.
    [​IMG]

    Outside left
    [​IMG]

    Looking in through the door
    [​IMG]

    In the doorway, you can see the roosts and nests better
    [​IMG]

    one of the girls getting ready to use the nesting box
    [​IMG]

    Of course i gotta throw in one or 2 of the girls - this is the youngest Angel
    [​IMG]

    And this is one of the "middle ones" - Junie
    [​IMG]

    As you can see there is already a tarp on the roof but it still leaks a little which is why I want him to fix it, and also why I was thinking about the solar panels to help with some of the damp and cold.
     
  9. ChixPix

    ChixPix Out Of The Brooder

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    You could be more passive, and have more of a greenhouse effect by putting in glass. Our coop has a full view glass storm door (lets in tons of light), and two 2'x2' windows. I'm hoping that this, and lots of litter will keep them warm enough this winter.
     

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