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  • Allison Stalker

Using Solar Power to Replace Clothes Dryers

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

A group of students from the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside along with members of Engineers Without Borders have been chosen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive a $15,000 grant. The grant was awarded for the team to develop a system that utilizes heat from both the attic and the sun to dry clothes, replacing a traditional clothes dryer. The team will execute the concept at a zero net energy, urban community, Victory Gardens Moreno Valley.

The idea began when the developer of the community, Steven Ribeiro, had the idea to take advantage of hot air produced in attics. After being contacted by the UC Riverside Engineers Without Borders chapter, Ribeiro decided to collaborate with the senior design students and advisors for green projects at Victory Gardens.

The system is pretty simple; it starts with a solar-powered attic fan from Lowe’s, who is sponsoring the project. The system collects heat from a rooftop solar heat collector and from the attic. The heat is then diverted to a constructed closet, 30 inches deep and 7 feet wide and high. The closet can either be concealed in what appears to be a chimney or configured in a two-car garage. Additionally, any heated air that is not used to dry clothes can be sent through air ducts for space heating.

At $1500, the system would cost more upfront than a typical dryer. However, taking into account energy savings and decreased maintenance costs, the team estimates that a homeowner could save almost $6,500 in 20 years by replacing a clothes dryer with the closet system. Furthermore, the team estimates that a homeowner could save $8,700 over 20 years by using the heat from the closet for space heating. Next year, the team will travel to Washington D.C. to find out if they won an additional $90,000 grant that would allow them to commercialize the system.

To learn more about the project and the team, click here!

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