Solar powered kilns use the sun's energy to provide heat to dry timber. They have low capital investment compared with conventional kilns, and very low operating costs, as the energy is free. The major drawback is that the energy of the sun varies with the time of day, different latitudes and with climate. Production rates slow during winter in temperate areas and may require additional heat sources.
There may be some benefit in the diurnal (day and night) variation in drying conditions in some solar kilns as drying stresses and moisture gradients in timber can relax at night.
John Fairweather of Canterbury has recently imported the first Solarola Sun-dry Kiln from Australia. He is currently experimenting with drying Eucalyptus nitens. Farm Forestry Timbers will be following his work closely:
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