Home Food Storage Build a Simple Solar Dehydrator For Under $20

Build a Simple Solar Dehydrator For Under $20

by Anthony

Prepping is about preparing to live without many of the modern conveniences we have today. One of those conveniences is electricity. One of the best things about learning ways to get things done without using electricity is you will save money on your electric bill today. Every dollar you save on your monthly utility bill can be applied to paying off debt or buying more supplies for your emergency storage.

Food preservation is a big deal in the prepping world. It is no secret that after SHTF, you will need to grow your own food. You will also need to preserve it to last you through the off season when you can’t grow a bountiful garden. Without the ability to can or freeze food, you are left with one option—drying your food. That big dehydrator in the kitchen isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t have electricity. The sun will be your new dehydrator. Building a solar dehydrator today, with your electric tools, will save you a lot of hassle in a SHTF situation. Plus, you will be able to start using your dehydrator and learning the ins and out of drying food with the sun. And, you will save electricity while preserving food for your survival pantry.

solar dehaydrator

Building a Solar Dehydrator

Supplies Needed

  • 2 6-foot 2x4s You could also use an old pallet as long as the wood is sound
  • Screws/nails
  • Window screening material
  • Old glass window—look at second hand stores, junk yards or Craig’s List
  • Hinges
  • Plastic sheeting or corrugated plastic sheets
  • 2 6-foot 1x2s

1-Start with a small, dehydrator at first. You can choose to have legs on the dehydrator or have it set on on a makeshift base. Legs make it easy for you and prevent you from bending over or kneeling on the ground.

2-Use 2x4s to create a square. The size is up to you, but a good starting point is a 3 foot by 3 foot square. This means you will only need to purchase 2 6-foot 2x4s. *If you are using an old window, your frame will need to be built to match the size of the window frame.

3-Use nails or drill screws into the ends to form your square.

4-Stretch a piece of the window screening material on what will be the underside of your dehydrator. Secure it with nails or screws. A staple gun would also suffice.

5-For your top or lid, you have several options.

Option A: Use 1×2 pieces of wood to create the same size square of your frame. For this example we will use the 3×3 frame. Place the square on top of your main frame and attach hinges to the back side. The top frame will open upwards. Stretch plastic across the top of the top frame and secure with a staple gun. You will need to replace the plastic each season.

Option B:Make the same frame as above with 1x2s or cut wood from a pallet to make the top frame. Attach a plastic polycarbonate sheet over the top of the frame. You can find these sheets at any home improvement store. They are available in a variety of sizes. However, you may need to cut the plastic to fit your frame. Attach the hinges to the back side so the frame opens upwards.

Option C: Use an old window in a wood frame. Attach the hinges to the back/top of the window so that when put on top of your bottom frame it will open upwards. Glass is an excellent material to use for a dehydrator.

That is the basics of your solar dehydrator. If you want to attach legs, it is a fairly simple process. Use 4x4s cut to the desired height and attach to the bottom. Again, look for old pallets to save money. The wood may not be pretty, but it still has a lot of life in it. If you want it to look pretty, add a fresh coat of stain.

Putting the dehydrator box on a couple of bricks will work as well. You don’t want it to sit directly on the ground. This will block the airflow you need.

To use your solar dehydrator, place the frame in an area that gets full sun. It cannot be shaded by trees or buildings. Place your sliced food on the screen and close the lid. The airflow from under the box will allow the food to dry evenly while the sun’s rays heat the box from above. If your dehydrator isn’t getting hot enough, you can put a sheet of plastic or thin plywood on the underside as well. However, you will need to prop your top lid open about half an inch to allow air flow. A sealed plastic box would hold in the condensation from your drying food and impede the drying process.

You could easily build this box for under $20 if you used recycled materials or scrap wood. Build several if you have a large, prolific garden. The idea is to build these now with the luxury of electric tools and a store to buy your materials from.


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