What is a Solar Dehydrator?
Food dehydration is not a new concept. From raisins to prunes to jerky, food has been dried for storage and later consumption for years. Solar dehydration simply refers to using the sun’s energy to complete that process. If built correctly, a solar dehydrator will not need any electricity and will be able to dry foods in even the most humid climates.
Types of Solar Dehydrators
There are literally hundreds of varieties of solar dehydrators. Deciding which one to build will really be a matter of taste and necessity for your family. There are several important elements in selecting a design:
- It must dry food fairly quickly in your environment.
- It is easy to use, particularly in terms of loading, unloading, and cleaning.
- It is easy to maneuver, set up, and put away.
- Portability is relatively easy.
- Durability and sturdiness are also extremely important.
- Venting controls are available to control temperature and airflow.
- The design should be fairly weather resistant.
- The design should be pest proof
How to Build a Dehydrator
Build the Heat Collector Box First
- The box should lined with a black plastic sheet or painted black; however, petroleum based paints should not be used as the fumes will affect your food.
- Holes should be made at the bottom front of the collector to allow for air ventilation (filters should be placed on the inside to keep out pests and other debris).
- The bottom and sides can be covered with Styrofoam or others types of insulation to increase heat efficiency.
Build Dehydrator Box Second
- Construct a box out of plywood with vents at the bottom front to receive the heated air from the heat collector.
- Line the dehydrator box with aluminum foil or other reflective material.
- Ensure trays are at least five inches shorter than the container so air can circulate completely around the food trays.
- Each individual tray should be made of plywood pieces and food-safe screens.