Solar Kiln

Several people have contacted me about drying wood. I’ve had good success with air-drying and it’s what I’ve recommended to everyone. It is very reliable if done carefully and patiently, but it’s the latter that I now find myself lacking.

Kiln drying is trickier but it’s definitely faster and I decided to make a study of it. We started construction of our new solar kiln late last fall but we were interrupted by snow and lots of it all winter. It’s complete now and the beta phase of testing is complete. It runs sans ‘the grid’.

It’s fully insulated and uses passive solar heat with photovoltaic powered fans. The first charge was a very wet (69.2 percent moisture content!) stack of Black Willow; it was a good test for managing the rate of moisture reduction as the kiln cycles to about 150ºF on sunny days. In one month the Willow was down to 7% so it worked great. We’re now drying oak and maple.

It’s been an interesting place to work. The black slate floor is too hot to touch and then you go outside and the hot and humid Michigan summer feels cold.…

In progress...

Completed

Kiln loaded...

and in operation.

with a light charge of oak and surrounded by bird house gourds