Solar Food Dehydrators for the Fall Harvest

I will be giving four presentations in Missoula on November 9, 10, and 11 at the Inland Northwest Permaculture Conference. See the full details here.


Fall is upon us and thus, harvest time. Apples, plums, kale, and tomatoes abound. In our quest for sustainability, there has been a lot of interest in food dehydrators that are solar-powered.

Solar dehydrators can come in many designs. Below is a video that highlights three different designs.

A solar-powered food dehydrator

The first solar dehydrator is shown by Robert and Marina at Dell Artimus Farm.

The solar heat comes from a heated panel at the bottom, and there is a black chimney at the top that creates a draw. They use  a stainless steel screen. The dryer is a year and a half old. They have dried beans, flowers, cherries, grapes (raisins), kale, walnuts, and apples. They even tried some tomatoes, but those ended up as pig food.

Matt at Feral Farm shows a “down draft solar dehydrator.”  The solar heat enters at the top and then goes down because, as it gathers moisture, the solar heated air gets heavier. He has nettles in there.

Mark Vander Meer, of Wildland Conservation Service in Missoula, Montana, shows off his solar food dehydrator still loaded with dried plums. Those plums have been in there all fall, winter, and most of the spring.

He talks about trying to dry fruit with electric food dehydrators and how expensive that was. This solar dehydrator also uses the down draft technique. He says plums take three days and apples take a day and a half.

These are all passive systems; there are no fans.




Paul Wheaton is is the tyrannical ruler of two on-line communities. One is about permaculture and one is about software engineering. There is even one for Missoula. Paul has written several permaculture articles starting with one on lawn care that he presented at the MUD Project 17 years ago, including articles on raising chickenscast iron and diatomaceous earth. Paul also regularly uploads permaculture videos and permaculture podcasts. In his spare time, Paul has plans for world domination and is currently shopping for a hollowed out volcano in the Missoula area, with good submarine access.

See all of Paul’s contributions to Make it Missoula here.