Does anyone have pics/experience using solar power?


8 Years
Feb 13, 2011
Central IL
we cannot run electricity to the coop and we are NOT (dh said NOT..big time) going to run electrical extension cords out across our yard, through/under/over the fence to the coop..not gonna happen..

so he was thinking of solar..just so we can run a fan if need be or a heater if we HAD to..


how does that work for you all?

wonder how many panels we'd need? its a 10x10 coop
Harbor Freight sells solar panel kits with everything except the car batteries. Don't know how familiar you are with solar panels, but they charge batteries for you to use. You have to run the power through an inverter to convert it from DC to AC so you can run electrical appliances such as fans and heaters. One panel should provide enough power for that purpose, depending on the power consumption of whatever you plug into it.
Are you really sure you need heat? Most chicken breeds handle even bitter cold fine as long as they have a dry, draft free but properly ventilated coop.

Summer heat is actually more dangerous for chickens because they just can't take off their down jackets. But trying to cool the coop with a fan has some serious drawbacks. First of all, the dusty environment of a coop is very hard on fan motors. You either have to buy one of those expensive agricultural type fans, or be very diligent about dusting off a conventional fan or the motor could burn out. And a fan isn't going to make that much difference if the coop heats up in the sun and doesn't have adequate passive ventilation to begin with. So I'd be careful about siting the coop someplace where it doesn't get afternoon sun in the summer, and I'd also think about using radiant shield roofing. And I'd be sure to have plenty of additional vents for summer, down at roost level, with flaps so that you can close them down in winter. With these features, in the summer our coop doesn't get hotter than the outside ambient temperature in the shade, and we're in hotter-than-you-know-what Texas.
Harbor Freight solar panels run about 160.00 including the controller and two 12 volt florescent fixtures with bulbs. You have to add two deep cycle marine batteries in which to store the power generated by the solar panels. This system provides 12 volt power only. You can purchase 12 volt fans to move air. You now have nearly $375.00 invested. Might be cheaper to run electricity.
Ok. I live off the grid, but I don't have experience with solar for the coop because we are building the coop as soon as the snow melts. That means another month where I am. We have frigid winters and humid summers and it can get quite hot in the summer months.

Having a solar panel charge a battery to use for heat will not work very well. When heat is created with electricity it's called a controlled dead short. That is very inefficient. Also- you need a deep cycle battery and sufficient charging capacity.

If you use some sort of hot/warm air panel or maybe even hot water panel. I'm not sure how cold it gets where you are, but heliodyne has hot water panels that can tolerate freezing. It wouldn't make it a toasty 70 degrees, but it might take some of the chill off. I've never used hot water panels for heat (only for heating domestic hot water), so I have no idea. If you go the hot water route, you need power for a circulating pump which would be more efficient than electric heat. Geothermal would be ideal, but again you're dealing with circulating pumps. This is a chicken coop. The expense of all the above would be horrendous for a 10x10 space. If you find a small warm air system, link it here, I'd be interested in checking it out.

Best bet: Follow the advice of the person above. Heat may be a bigger issue than cold. Insulate well, seal junctions, add lots of vents that won't blow on the birds in winter. Maybe utilize a passive solar design like they did in the old days: Put the coop in the sun and plant tall shrubs or trees around it. Deciduous trees/shrubs will shed their leaves in winter and let the sun shine on it to allow for solar gain. You can even buy solar gain window samples at a building supply place. In the summer, the bush/tree will have leaves on it and will shade the coop in the summer, minimizing solar gain.

I am going to use tin for roofing, and place a little removable tin awning over each window to reduce drafts and shade it a little in the summer. If the coop is well insulated, that should help with the heat in the summer too. I will also check before I plant said shrubs to be sure they aren't poisonous to the chickens.

Using solar for lighting is easy-peasy and can be quite efficient, that's what we're doing. Solar LED flood lights. I'm hoping that does something to dscourage predators too.
As also said above, it might just be better for you to bury a line out to the coop.

Good luck, and let me know what route you go, I'll be interested to see how it works.
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One thing you could try for heating is a pop can heater setup.

What you would do is build a frame to fit a piece of glass or an old window and behind that you would have rows of empty pop cans glued to each other sitting on top of a layer of foam insulation.

Its a passive solar setup and the only electricity needed would be 12 volts for a small fan.

Something to conisder
I saw a setup like this on line once. This couple wanted to heat their greenhouse in winter so their veggies don't freeze. They built the frame and took soda cans, cut both ends off and painted them black. Glued them into the frame and covered it with plexi-glass. They attached 4" dryer discharge vents to run the air through the cans. Seemed like a simple set up. Only needed to power the fan.
Can't run a coop heater off an affordable small solar-powered system, requires way too much wattage.

You won't need a fan with a well-designed well-run coop, and likely wouldn't need heat either (barring emergencies) if you design your coop well and choose your breeds appropriately.

You might take a look at my 'cold coop' page (link in .sig below) regarding designing for a cold winter environment.

Note that a popcan heater or anything else passive-solar will not really do you any meaningful good unless you also have LARGE THERMAL MASS for it to be putting its heat into, otherwise it just makes the coop warmer during the day (when you don't need it) yet just as cold at *night* when you *do* want heat.

Good luck, have fun,


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