Go Green With Solar Heat for Your Dog House
Solar panels can be used to upgrade your dog house. Give him heat on demand, as long as the sun shines, using solar power to keep him comfy.
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.
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.
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.
Other Options for Solar Power
If you’re really interested in taking your dog’s space to the next level, solar power can be used to power a variety of perks. By setting your dog’s solar panel up with a battery to store the power, you can add turn your dog’s basic house into a palace.
Whether you’re interested in adding lighting for your dog to light his surroundings or to make it easier for you to check on him, solar can be used to power a wide variety of lighting options. Stick with LED lighting to minimize the draw needed on the power source, while illuminating a larger area. Some fun options to consider would be puck lights in the doghouse, string lighting extending from the front of the house, or rope lighting around the entrance.
There are also solar lights on the market that incorporate helpful features like a timer to shut your dog’s lights off after a set amount of time and remote controls to make it easy for you to control the settings from a distance.
Fans or Air Conditioning
Do you live in a warmer climate where the idea of solar heat isn’t necessary? Why not consider the other end of the spectrum. Air conditioning does require significantly more power to run than most other options you consider. For this reason, you may need to invest in a larger solar panel and battery setup to support the ongoing need.
Another option that is easier on the power drain is to set up fans in the doghouse to create more airflow. Try to incorporate fans that will direct air into the doghouse as well as exhaust fans to encourage the warm air to then circulate back out again. This is a great way to create a cool, comfortable setting without the need for an air conditioning unit.
Have you heard of the concept of TV for Dogs? Many different companies and video creators are creating short videos, long videos, and even television channels dedicated to entertaining dogs. This is a great option for dogs that may experience separation anxiety or become stressed when left alone. By offering videos as a distraction, they can relax, and the time will fly by.
You can set up a small television or a tablet in your dog’s space that he can watch while you’re at work or to help him relax at night. To make this work, you will need to consider how you are going to deliver the videos to your dog’s “TV” as well as how you are going to control it. If the doghouse is close enough to your house, you may be able to use your home internet. If the connection is weak, it can easily be solved with the use of a Wi-Fi extender. Another option is to download the videos directly onto a tablet. This would mean that your only concern is providing the power to keep the television or tablet playing while you’re gone.
Can’t forget those auto-treat dispensers! Solar panel fanatics have also used the energy to power battery packs that run other fun luxury items such as surveillance cameras and food dispensers. The options are endless!
More by Mary Simpson