Today I cleaned and top dressed my garden boxes. The herb box had a bunch of early oregano and sage. The sage had just started to flower so I am a little late. I picked a bunch to dry. Last year I made a solar dehydrator it’s biggest benefit has been hang drying herbs. Saves tons of time! If you saw my dehydrator last year I added a black corrugated plate to increase the temperature. Others than that it stayed the same. It still needs a sunny day to get the job done, but it works faster now.
Solar dehydrator up date.
In my last post on it I asked for some help dialing in the dehydrator. I did not get much advice, but I tweaked some things. In the end I was unhappy with the natural draft. So I added a solar vent fan to even the draft out, and I repositioned it for better sun. That did the trick for herbs. It runs on a 70 to 75 degree day (no rain and a little sun) at about 105-110 Deg and has a good draft. However, rainy overcast cool days it does not work at all. You really need some dry days with a little sun, but I’m ok with that. It really puts out some volume. I have a huge volume of dried herbs now with no real work and no electricity. I will be adding some painted corrugated steel to the solar tray to boost temperatures for fruit. The steel should up the surface area enough to to give me an extra 15 to 25 Deg rise minimum. That should do for fruit slices.
The biggest surprise was how nice it is to hang herbs. I did not get a picture, but you can stager the hanging pattern to get a lot in. I made a bunch of racks from plastic ceiling return grills, but it is faster to just hang things. It adds to the drying time but it’s less work, and there is less chance of the wind messing with it when you put it in or take it out of the dehydrator.
I also want to say that I still find it incredibly fun to build things like this, and to get a feel for them. The dehydrator plus foraging, has given me such an over abundance of herbs that I will be giving herbs away all summer. The picture represents the volume from one unload.
So, couple weeks ago I decided to make a solar dehydrator as a rainy day project. I went with a down draft style. I think It turned out pretty good, but I am kind of struggling with how to dial it in. I am starting out with just a black box for heat and draft. I’ve seen designs for cans, corrugation and painted mesh, but I want to get some base temperatures and drafts before I spend the time and modify it. I also have a solar powered vent fan from another project that I could add. The vent is also assisted by the shingle roof section, and I may change that. So, this is my setup before modifications. I am posting in hopes of getting some advice from people who have one themselves and have already worked things out.
I will repost the tweaked final design