Go Green With Solar Heat for Your Dog House

While our pets are ideally housed right alongside us in a warm, comfortable setting, there are instances where our canine buddies are required to lead a more outdoorsy life in a space they can call their very own. And while the term “in the dog house” has always held a negative connotation, today’s habitat can be decidedly more upscale with plush beds, auto-feeders and two-way cameras so pet parents can be in constant contact with Rover.

Bells and whistles aside, the primary purpose of your pet’s living quarters is to provide him with safe, comfortable shelter from the proverbial storm; wind-proof, water-proof, room to move around in, cool in the summer, warm in the winter.

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 So it should come as no surprise that solar energy aficionados have entered into the foray to perfect the classic all-weather dog house by drawing on nature to provide the heat. Solar heat offers pet parents not only a safe, reliable way to ensure their outdoor dog stays warm but a cost-efficient one to boot!

How does it work? In a nutshell, your goal is to first fully insulate the structure and then use the sun’s rays to heat a thermal mass – such as a concrete pad – that will soak up the heat during the day and release it at night.

If you live in a moderate climate and are looking for just a little more heat for colder nights you might consider a passive solar enclosure that would resemble a small greenhouse attached to the insulated dog house. The heat captured during the day would warm the concrete floor of the structure and an insulated cover (think heated swimming pool) would then cover the greenhouse portion at night to keep out the cold. During the hotter summer months you would simply leave the cover on throughout the day. Cheap, easy, I think I could accomplish this one myself.

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If your pooch is in need of a more serious source of heat you may want to invest in having a solar panel system installed – or for do-it-yourself types (not me) check out any number of Youtube videos on the subject.

The solar panel is typically installed on the roof of the dog house or in close proximity and is aligned with the sun. The panel collects the infrared radiation (okay, the heat) and transfers it to a network of narrow tubing that is filled with water (or glycol mix to prevent freezing in winter). The heated water is then pumped into the thermal mass. In this case, the thermal mass is again a concrete floor pad but you will have laid out a grid of the solar tubing in the foundation prior to pouring the cement. After the sun has set and is no longer radiating heat, the pump turns off and the now-warm concrete pad will remain warm all night long.

But the possibilities are endless. You can also use “water” as the thermal mass and heat your pet’s water source during cold winter days. By using a small copper coil of pipe wrapped around the water dispenser, the water heated by the solar panel would ensure your pet’s water dish remained warm enough from the day’s heat to ensure it didn’t freeze at night.

Can’t forget those auto treat dispensers! Solar panel fanatics have also used the energy to power battery packs that not only run personal fans in their pet’s house but surveillance cameras and food dispensers.


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