Eric Latocki cover

Solar heaters can make a lot of sense if you live in a cold climate with sun because they essentially provide free heat during the day. The designs haven't always been great, though. Eric Latocki, DIY tinkerer and lifelong fabricator, has incorporated his industrial oven design experience into a DIY solar heater build that can be built with common materials found at local big box stores. His plans, which are completely free, don't require any welding or special knowledge and if you're already building your tiny home, you most likely have the necessary tools and experience already. In this conversation, Eric explains everything from what a solar heater is to how it's installed, what it can be used for, and other important details. If you're looking for alternative ways to heat your tiny house, this episode will definitely open your eyes to some new possibilities.

In This Episode:

  • What does a solar heater do?
  • Plenums: what they are and how they influenced Eric's design
  • Cost and time expectations for your DIY solar heater
  • A secondary use for the solar heater
  • Where Ethan and Eric would love to see solar heaters used

Links and Resources:

Guest Bio:

Eric Latocki

Eric Latocki

Eric Latocki has a background in industrial ovens and heating and is a welder and a fabricator. He was a teacher for 7 years and also built log cabins. About 10 years ago he started playing around with the idea of solar heating after finding plans for a basic soda can heater, which ultimately led to the development of his own DIY solar heater and guide.



More Photos:

Erik's DIY solar heater is 4 ft by 8 ft and light enough to carry easily

It works best in cold climates with a lot of sun

Erik's design was inspired by the ovens he built with his dad


He has a full parts list and the plans available for free

The solar heater is made out of polycarbonate roofing material


Erik's friend built a DIY heater out of Unistrut

Erik teaches you how to properly cut everything in his free guide


Eric Latocki 0:00

All the solar heaters. I'll throw it out to all the all the guys who have built - and gals that have built - solar heaters no matter what shape or material, you know, they're all, they're all fantastic. I love every one.

Ethan Waldman 0:16

Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman and this is episode 190 with Eric Latocki. Eric and I have been in touch for a couple of years now, because he has designed and now built several DIY solar heaters. Solar heaters are kind of a fringe thing. But they make a lot of sense. If you live in a cold climate with sun, they essentially can provide free heat during the day. And the designs have not always been great. And so Eric is a DIY tinkerer and kind of a lifelong inventor, and fabricator. And he has been incorporating designs from industrial ovens into a DIY solar heater build. And what's really cool is that the plans that he has designed can be built with common tools and materials that you can find at a local big box store and don't require any welding or special knowledge. This is just amazing. And then also, I forgot to mention that the plans and videos and everything that he puts out about them are completely free. So you really have nothing to lose here.

In this conversation, Eric will explain what a solar heater is and how it works. And then I ask him about the practicalities of the design, what it's good for, what it's not, how it gets installed in a house, and other important details. If you are looking for alternative ways to heat your tiny house, this episode is going to really open your eyes to some new possibilities. I hope you stick around.

But before we get to that, I have one quick ask for you. As the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast approaches 200 episodes, I just wanted to say thank you to all my listeners. I love to hear from you. I love doing this show and all the great conversations that I get to share with you each week. So if you like the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast my ask to you is please share the show with someone who you think will like it. Take their phone, show them how to subscribe to a podcast, or just show them that they can go over to and listen to the shows right there on the page. I'm also experimenting with adding the shows to YouTube so you can watch/listen in the background. So again, my ask is just please share an episode or the show with someone that you think will like it, or post it on social media however you like to do it. It's always great to find new listeners and I really appreciate your support. Again, please share the show with someone you think like it. Alright, on to the show.

Alright, I am here with Eric Latocki. Eric has a background in industrial ovens and heating as a welder and fabricator. He was also a log cabin builder, a teacher for seven years. And about 10 years ago, he started playing around with the idea of solar heating with a basic soda can heater. And Eric got in touch with me over a year ago to share some plans for a DIY solar heater that would be ideal for tiny houses. And we've been corresponding for quite a while now. And his plans have finally come together. So I wanted to have him on the show to talk to solar heaters. Eric Latoki, welcome to the show.

Eric Latocki 4:06

Hey, thanks, Ethan. Been a long time.

Ethan Waldman 4:08

Yeah, it has. So I was hoping we can start just did you explain like what a solar heater is? Because I don't think that many people have seen one. So maybe start with like, what does it look like?

Eric Latocki 4:25

Yeah, basically, it looks like- well, the one I've designed is four feet by eight feet.

Ethan Waldman 4:31


Eric Latocki 4:32

rectangle and it kind of does look just like a regular solar panel and some people think it might produce electricity, but it doesn't. All it really does is pull cool air, like say from a basement area or just the lowest point in a house or, you know, living space, pulls it out of the house, cycles it through the panel itself that has the sun beating on it, of course, and it just heats that air up and sends it back into the house. It's a very simple design, very simple. And all these, you know, soda can heaters, screen black screen heaters that people have designed, they all work.

Ethan Waldman 5:19


Eric Latocki 5:19

They all heat the air. So this is just the alteration that I've come up with kind of based on plenums that we built, you know, for industry. I worked for my dad for a number of years. So

Ethan Waldman 5:36

what is a plenum?

Eric Latocki 5:37

A plenum is basically, it's a box that will allow air to flow through it.

Ethan Waldman 5:45


Eric Latocki 5:45

So we built ovens back in the day for heat treating metal, annealing ovens, first oven I built was for a glass blower. And it was an annealing oven where after you build or after you blow that glass piece, you have to cool it down very slowly. So we built basically with about the size of a large freezer. So we built things like that, we built a powder coating ovens where you know, the conveyors going through and we had the direct air, you know, different ways. So usually heated with gas or electric. And so, yeah, basically, I, you know, it's funny, when I looked at the solar heaters online, I just thought it was kind of fun to try.

Ethan Waldman 6:38


Eric Latocki 6:39

The ones I was looking at where soda can ones or the beer can heaters, and I collected a fair amount of cans and cleaned them out and set them aside and followed along on instructions that I saw. And I found it immediately frustrating.

Ethan Waldman 6:59


Eric Latocki 6:59

And, you know, I still thought I thought it would be cool to build, I like to build things out of non traditional materials, using one material for something else. That's kind of fun for me. So I thought the soda cans would be cool. Anyway, just as something fun to do. But yeah, I was frustrated with material. So still, I didn't, I didn't use or I wasn't looking at my past experience with building plenums. Still, at that point, I was still trying to use materials that wouldn't be traditionally used prior to actually building another heater using ground up tires, there was a local hire recycler, and they had, you know, 50 foot high piles of rubber. And I tried building a heater actually, actually, I did build quite a successful here was the thing weighed about 200 pounds by the time you're done. And I thought to myself, I'll never do this again, it was messy, stinky, dusty, and, you know, I gave up on that real quick.

And then that was the point where I thought, you know, I should probably harken back to my experience building plenums and ask myself, what would we do in our factory, if we were going to have to build a solar heater, and we would, and fabricate every piece virtually, you know, the normal normal materials we use back then we're, you know, you're like eighth inch angle iron, you know, for frames, and then we would break or bend the material, though, you know, the sheet metal, however, which way we need it. So, my initial goal for this heater was to come up with something that the average person, you know, put together without using industrial equipment, right, breaks. You know, for people that don't know what a break is, it's something that actually bends metal, doesn't break it, it bends it. People don't have those.

Ethan Waldman 9:10

No, they don't

Eric Latocki 9:11

So I thought what materials, what materials will be available that you can put a plenum together fairly easily without dangerous power tools and I didn't want to have people using some of the tools that we use, because they are dangerous. I've had several injuries myself. I didn't want to be you know, hearing stories and what else, someone following along with my book and injured so that was a fear of mine. But yeah, I don't know where else I could go withit. I keep rambling.,

Ethan Waldman 9:42

Yeah, no, that's that's all helpful. I wrote down a bunch of questions that I want to ask kind of based on that. So you, you set out to design and build this solar heater that could be built with parts that people can buy at like their local big box store. And it seems like you've done it. How, you know, what's the average cost that you've seen? For the for these parts?

Eric Latocki 10:10

Well, last time I built it, I think the parts came out around. I think it was like $466.

Ethan Waldman 10:16

Okay. $466. So call it like 500 bucks.

Eric Latocki 10:22

Yeah, roughly because you know, prices are going up a little bit here.

Ethan Waldman 10:25


Eric Latocki 10:26

As we all know, on everything, so. And then last I checked...

Ethan Waldman 10:31

No, go ahead.

Eric Latocki 10:33

Well, like the polycarbonate, the dual wall, wind wall, polycarbonate. And all that goes on the front that that allows the sun to pass through those. Back when they were running about $40. I think the last time I saw they were about $60. I've seen them up over $100.

Ethan Waldman 10:53


Eric Latocki 10:53

So I encourage people to do their shopping. I do provide some links in the guide.

Ethan Waldman 10:59


Eric Latocki 11:00

For places, like people that are living in the Midwest, Menards is the place to go. I would say,

Ethan Waldman 11:07

All right. We've got those here in Vermont, too.

Eric Latocki 11:10

You do have Menards in Vermont?

Ethan Waldman 11:12

We do, we do.

Eric Latocki 11:13

Oh, excellent. Yeah. Menards usually has the best price I found that polycarbonate at. You know, you'd think that would be the most expensive thing ever. You know, comparing to like, plexiglass was the first the first thing I thought it was like "I'll use Plexiglas," but I went to the store and can't usually find Plexiglas in a 4x8 feet.

Ethan Waldman 11:35

Yeah, it's really expensive to buy, too.

Eric Latocki 11:36

You can in a 3 foot by something. But they were also well over $100, you know, a couple feet over there is this polycarbonate, this is dynamite stuff. And it's very similar to Solex

Ethan Waldman 11:49


Eric Latocki 11:50

greenhouse material, which people may have heard of, which is also... That, Solex has kind of an opaque. The goal of that is to kind of create a an overcast atmosphere for a greenhouse. Whereas this clear polycarbonate, I'm trying to allow as much sunlight come through, of course, as possible so but it's a very similar material,

Ethan Waldman 12:13

It's almost creating a greenhouse, a little mini greenhouse outside of the house and then just blowing that warm air inside.

Eric Latocki 12:21

You are however, the plenum itself separates that air that's flowing through from the house going through and then back into the house, that air doesn't come in contact with the polycarbonate. The plenum itself has the steel back, and it's got a steel top so that the air flows through it.

Ethan Waldman 12:47


Eric Latocki 12:48

Without touching anything else. I'm trying to try to keep the air clean.

Ethan Waldman 12:52


Eric Latocki 12:53

free of chemicals. The only chemical that really comes in contact with is is silicone.

Ethan Waldman 13:00


Eric Latocki 13:01

100% silicone or a high temp silicone. Which I also say to you know, allow it to cure

Ethan Waldman 13:08


Eric Latocki 13:09

the proper amount of time. Usually might be 45 days or so.

Ethan Waldman 13:13

Oh, 45 days. So we're at

Eric Latocki 13:15

depending I you know, and I haven't like compared across the board all the different products.

Ethan Waldman 13:22


Eric Latocki 13:23

But you know, roughly.

Ethan Waldman 13:25


Eric Latocki 13:25

and I don't think it's terribly toxic in and of itself. And it has a vinegar smell, but it's not something you want to be pumping in your house right away.

Ethan Waldman 13:35

Yeah. So we're at about a cost. Let's call it $500. What's

Eric Latocki 13:42

Yeah, that's it.

Ethan Waldman 13:43

So, yeah, how much time to build a unit? Yeah.

Eric Latocki 13:48

I could build this thing in two hours if I wasn't filming. Wow, I could just hang them out there. So easy. And once you build one,

Ethan Waldman 13:56

What about for someone who hasn't worked in industrial oven fabrication?

Eric Latocki 14:02

Yeah, I think you know, following the guide, and especially the videos. I know you've watched the videos.

Ethan Waldman 14:10


Eric Latocki 14:11

I tried my my darndest.

Ethan Waldman 14:14

They're great.

Eric Latocki 14:15

To just narrow down every, every little part. If people have questions, you know, they can always shoot them to me and I'd be happy to add any suggestions to the guide or or, you know, a video.

Ethan Waldman 14:28


Eric Latocki 14:30

But I you know, the average person I think they could they could get this thing done in four or five hours.

Ethan Waldman 14:37


Eric Latocki 14:37

No problem, you know.

Ethan Waldman 14:39

And then of course, there's installing it into the house.

Eric Latocki 14:45

Yeah, that that part. I haven't yet gone into great detail about that because there's so many different ways to do it. One guy, my, my, my star, you know, first student, I'll call him, built he built two units for his place in Arizona is up in the mountains where it holds the mountains. He he installed his with the unistrut material.

Ethan Waldman 15:13


Eric Latocki 15:14

Just built an absolute bomber mount.

Ethan Waldman 15:17


Eric Latocki 15:17

On his on his house that would just withstand... I can't imagine anything couldn't rip it off the house the way he built it.

Ethan Waldman 15:26

Yeah, and those pictures are on your website. I see that.

Eric Latocki 15:29

Yeah and in the guide itself. Yeah, he did an awesome job. Unistrut's a little more expensive. But I'm trying to make this more affordable if I can.

Ethan Waldman 15:41


Eric Latocki 15:41

For anybody. So I went with the, you know, the angle iron that's got little holes all along, you can bold it. Kind of like an erector set type material that's available? Everywhere. All your big box stores have it. That's that's very, I think sufficient.

Ethan Waldman 16:01


Eric Latocki 16:01

You can you could beef it up, however you feel you need to but that's very affordable. The last frame that I built, I took a lot of pictures, but they didn't have a lot of filming going on when I built that. My hope was this... Actually, a couple weeks ago, my hope was to do a video of the Re-install.

Ethan Waldman 16:25


Eric Latocki 16:26

on my son's house, actually, and I had some car issues so that we put that off. Hopefully that'll happen in the next couple of weeks here before it really gets cold here in Minnesota. But that that that frame is really simple to build. You could cut that material with just a jigsaw or even a hand saw. You don't have to make a whole lot of cuts.

Ethan Waldman 16:51


Eric Latocki 16:52

So it's not a big deal.

Ethan Waldman 16:54


Eric Latocki 16:55

Those materials are also in the guide. And that, and that one you can pick up, pull it down carry it down in the basement, just like we did.

Ethan Waldman 17:06


Eric Latocki 17:06

Oh, and up and back out. And it's very easy. It's light.

Ethan Waldman 17:10


Eric Latocki 17:10

The whole thing you could pick up?

Ethan Waldman 17:12

Yeah. And so is the ideathat, is the idea that you would take it off the wall in the summer and remove it?

Eric Latocki 17:20

Yeah, generally, I would say most people would however, you know, there's another application for this thing. And that could be that that might be another video coming up here.

Ethan Waldman 17:30


Eric Latocki 17:31

I haven't really had time to do this. But idea is to run this into your dryer, so that you could run your dryer on cool, and yet be cycling in this 200 degree air plus.

Ethan Waldman 17:45

Yeah. Do you have a sense of how many BT use this four by eight thing puts out at you know, in full, direct sun?

Eric Latocki 17:56

I don't have those numbers with me right now. There's a lot of that information online.

Ethan Waldman 18:01


Eric Latocki 18:02

All I really know is that, you know, way back when I looked up after I built this, after I built the first prototype, I found a place online, it was a government website, and I've tried my hardest to dig this website up again, cannot find it. But the information in it stated that, you know, according to the government, whoever that was, I don't know, but a flat panel is the most efficient for collecting sun. Which makes sense to me. There's not a lot of angles to deflect the heat. And so the BTUs? Hard to say. Materials differ. Also in the guide, as I've explained that that front heat-collecting panel can be flipped over.

Ethan Waldman 18:53


Eric Latocki 18:54

So these are roofing panels. You know, this is the stuff you'd see on a roof.

Ethan Waldman 18:58


Eric Latocki 18:59

on a barn or something. It's got a it's coated on both sides. But it's just how the shape is, you know, that rib. You could have the ribs up or you could have the ribs down. I don't think it makes any difference. It just gets super hot. You know, it just does. You can't really touch it. You can't touch the metal, you know, exit or that yeah, that heat's coming out. All the all the solar heaters. I'll throw it out to all the guys who have built - and gals that have built - solar heaters, no matter what shape or material, you know, they're all they're all fantastic. I love every one of them. You know, and I just tried to build something that is easy. And

Ethan Waldman 19:47


Eric Latocki 19:47

super efficient. You don't have to go hunting. That was another thing that that first couple that I made I was hunting for used glass doors. You know it's one thing you know, I found the, the rubber material that from the tires, you know, I'm like, "Nobody's gonna be able to do that," you know?

Ethan Waldman 20:05

Right. Right.

Eric Latocki 20:07

This is stuff you could run out. Or you can order it I've got, you know, in the guide, I've got Amazon links, I've got links to Menards, Home Depot, Lowe's. So hopefully people can find stuff pretty easily. I forgot what that question was, initially. I'm rambling again,

Ethan Waldman 20:24

Talking about installation.

Eric Latocki 20:25

Yeah, installation. Yeah we're far off that.

Ethan Waldman 20:29

It's okay. It's okay. Is it?

Eric Latocki 20:32

Yeah, the installation, you can mount it to the wall, you can mount it to your house, you can cut a hole in your house if you want. I, I don't like to do that. Personally, I just designed this thing where you pop it into a window.

Ethan Waldman 20:46

Yep. But there, there needs to be an intake and an output, right? So, kind of like the top of the window and the bottom of the window? Or...

Eric Latocki 20:55

Well, the last, well, you want to pull your cool air in from the lowest point. So you know, if you don't have a basement, you might just have that, you know, pulling air from, you know, you could have a tube just, you know, kind of like a dryer tube, you know, just pulling air off the floor, that would be fine.

Ethan Waldman 21:13


Eric Latocki 21:13

cycling in, and then it's recirculating and, you know, have a filter over the intake of the or, you know, where is in the basement or wherever you want to have a filter over that. So you're not, you know, driving a lot of dust into the machine itself, with the plenum itself. So it's, it's easy to just pop it into a window. You have leftover foam. The foam, that, that insulates this thing you're gonna end up with... You have to buy two sheets.

Ethan Waldman 21:48


Eric Latocki 21:49

you're gonna have some foam leftover, which is fantastic. I love this foam foil back. You know, you can use it for umpteen different projects. But it's great to just make that window box for your inlet and your outlet. That's what we've done.

Ethan Waldman 22:05


Eric Latocki 22:06

Yeah, my son's house that comes out of the basement goes up, right around the corner of his house and into the living room and works pretty well.

Ethan Waldman 22:14

Nice. And so is there a fan? Are there electronics involved in this? Or does it work completely by convective currents?

Eric Latocki 22:23

You know, just gonna say that you can do it either way. Convection works. I just like to have a little more control over it. Maybe?

Ethan Waldman 22:30


Eric Latocki 22:31

You know? So, in the in the guide, I've found this fan. It's designed for design for - I'm going to try to find it here here was going to have that open

Ethan Waldman 22:43


Eric Latocki 22:45

Yeah, also the varying diameter fans, but then they have the controller that goes with it, the controller has, right now a Wi Fi, Wi Fi enabled.

Ethan Waldman 23:02


Eric Latocki 23:03

However, I found a hack on online where you could actually get this thing working off of your you know, your phone. So you could, you know, control this from wherever you are. I have not tried that yet. That was that was going to be one of our next things to implement here. I wanted to give some instructions on how to do that slick, very nice looking unit. It's lightweight, well built, built here in America, and I love it.

And so does that control.... that you can control that based on the inside temperature of your house as like a thermostat?

Well, how this one works is it goes off the temperature of inside the the unit itself.

Ethan Waldman 23:47


Eric Latocki 23:47

So you can set that you can set it to start at whatever time you want, you want to start pumping at 60 degrees, you can do that. If you don't want it to start pumping til it's 72 you can do that too. And you can set it to shut off. And there's increments too so you could have it blowing at a nice slow RPM. Just in the morning. It starts heating up it'll be going slow and as it heats up, it's gonna start cranking driving that air into your living space.

Ethan Waldman 24:23


Eric Latocki 24:24

Pretty nice and versatile.

Ethan Waldman 24:26

Right? And so it goes without saying...

Eric Latocki 24:27

We haven't spent a lot of time they said these things are on backorder. I was having a hard time finding a unit that I liked and I thought we finally got it installed. However it was late in the season last year so we haven't had a lot of time to play with it. So far. I love it.

Ethan Waldman 24:41

It goes without saying and we're late late in the podcast here for me to say this, but this is essentially free heat once you've built it. And obviously

Eric Latocki 24:49

Once you've built it

Ethan Waldman 24:50

Yeah, obviously only during the day...

Eric Latocki 24:51

I hate to say "free", but yes, yeah. Doesn't work at night. No.

Ethan Waldman 24:57

So do you have a sense of of how much your your son's heating bills have been reduced?

Eric Latocki 25:08

I haven't had enough time to it was too late. That's why I really want to get this going this this season, because, you know, what are they saying now? The gas, natural gas and propane, they're both predicting 54% increase this winter.

Ethan Waldman 25:27


Eric Latocki 25:28

for those fuels. Wow. So this this is the time to do the test.

Ethan Waldman 25:33


Eric Latocki 25:34

You know, I don't think it's going to be a warm winner. I think it's gonna be normal.

Ethan Waldman 25:38

It'll be great to see.

Eric Latocki 25:41

I want yeah, I want to follow up with this, it'd be great to have some numbers for you. Cuz I've heard you know, 30%. And, you know, in your heating cost is kind of typical for a solar heater. But there's a lot of variables with that, too. You know, how are you insulating your windows? Are you putting plastic over them? Do you have ceiling fans driving heat down? There's all kinds of things that you can do to make your house more comfortable?

Ethan Waldman 26:10

I would imagine. I would imagine that for a tiny house during the day, this could probably provide a lot of the heating needs.

Eric Latocki 26:20

I think, yeah, I think it would just took you out. I think you're gonna have to have a window open. You're gonna have to have that. You know, it's gonna be more than enough for

Ethan Waldman 26:28


Eric Latocki 26:29

the tiny homes I've seen. I've thought about this thing being used. Even on ice ice houses.

Ethan Waldman 26:34


Eric Latocki 26:35

That'd be a fun thing. And you can vary, you know, you can you could make this smaller, you could cut this thing in half, you do a 4x4 foot unit just as easily. And then, on that note, you can also turn this thing - I have I just added this idea. I haven't built it like this yet. But I put a little graphic in the in the guide on how to orient it horizontally. And I actually think building it horizontally would be easier to build. There's a little bit less cutting, but yeah, you can you could have this sideways up, you know, upright. So fishing shacks, tiny homes, RVs. I think it's, you know, more than enough for those daylight hours.

Ethan Waldman 27:25

Yeah. And you you mentioned you know, it getting too hot. Is it? Could you just if you have like a duct system, can you just shut the duct if it's too hot?

Eric Latocki 27:38

You could shut the duct. Here's another thing you could just you could you get you could? Well, you could run it through a thermostat.

Ethan Waldman 27:44


Eric Latocki 27:45

So you know, you could you could just have a kill switch on

Ethan Waldman 27:49

And you won't like overheat it? It won't get too hot?

Eric Latocki 27:52

Then it won't overheat. You know, actually, that was a worry of mine was you know, someone's gonna connect this to a animal shelter.and, you know, tcok all the chickens are you know what, you know, you have to have a thermostat. You have to have some way, you know, just to keep keep it safe. You don't have just running hot air and willy nilly. So yeah, I advise the thermostat.

Ethan Waldman 28:16

Does it work? When this when it's like a gray, overcast day? You still get some heat from it? Or is it only with sun?

Eric Latocki 28:22

There's a little bit yeah, I would say a little bit. And the sensitivity of the fan is really important there. It'll you know, even when I was building our right outside here, it was it was just cooking, you know that you can see the the the heat waves coming out of this thing. And then cloud passes in front and the temperature really didn't change all that much. It just depends. You know, how much overcast it's going to be you know, if you're not feeling heat on your face, you're probably on the unit's probably not going to be doing too much either. So,

Ethan Waldman 29:02

Yeah, yeah.

Eric Latocki 29:04

I think Sun Sun is pretty much he but you know, usually when it's way way cold. That's when it's sunny. You know, it's sunny outside.

Ethan Waldman 29:12

Right, those very crisp, clear, frigid days.

Eric Latocki 29:16

That's the day we want- days like that.

Ethan Waldman 29:19

Yeah. So I want to kind of shift and ask you about the guide. Because it's, it's, I mean, as of speaking right now, you're at 135 pages. There, you know, you've documented this build inside and out. And also there's a lot of pictures you've got, you've got YouTube videos showing the build series. And you're putting this out there for free.

Eric Latocki 29:46

Yeah, my only my only income I guess would come from anybody buying through the Amazon link. That's really... That's it.

Ethan Waldman 29:56


Eric Latocki 29:57

There's no other... No other income, I'm not building these. I'm not. I'm not setting up a manufacturing company here. It's purely for educational use.

Ethan Waldman 30:11

That's, I mean,

Eric Latocki 30:11

If someone chooses to use a Amazon link of mine? Thank you very much. I really appreciate it helps me build my next project.

Ethan Waldman 30:19

Your next creation.

Eric Latocki 30:22

Yeah, I used to sell the guy it was it was very between $3 and $5. I sold quite a handful of those. And thank you to all those people that bought, bought the guide, as it did enable me to keep this project rockin and make some improvements, lots of improvements, to the guide. The original guide was, looking back, it's hard to look at. You know how that goes.

Ethan Waldman 30:49


Eric Latocki 30:50

I think this one's much more clear, much more detailed.

Ethan Waldman 30:54

It's very, it is very clear. It's very well put together. And I do think that, you know, looking at it, that pretty much anybody with a little bit of handy skills could build one. So if you're DIY building a tiny house right now, you definitely can build one, as you've probably already used all these tools. I mean, the cutting, you know, using metal snips can be intimidating for people who have never done it before. Do you have any any tips or advice there?

Eric Latocki 31:27

Well, I have Yeah, I did my little blurbs in there about how to how to do the two types of cuts. Just your standard, you know, snip away and then there's that like called Score-Bend-Snap cut. I don't know if that's a real thing. But that's what I call it. Where you cut in the same direction as the ribs, which means that one side of the metal cannot be bent up.

Ethan Waldman 31:56


Eric Latocki 31:57

Just like cutting with scissors a paper.Cannot do that in one direction. So think with those two instructions, and safety glasses when you're cutting the metal. They're important.

Ethan Waldman 32:11


Eric Latocki 32:12

Super easy. That is fine. Not a problem. You could probably ask somebody if you couldn't do that you probably asked somebody even at the store to help you do that. I don't know if they'll cut it right? They might. I should ask them that.

Ethan Waldman 32:28


Eric Latocki 32:29

They probably would put it up or make sure you have the measurements, right.

Ethan Waldman 32:33

Yeah, yeah.

Eric Latocki 32:34

I think that it's doable. I think everything on in this guide is is doable by your average person.

Ethan Waldman 32:41

I agree.

Eric Latocki 32:41

Everything's lightweight. Yeah, no, that's why I love the lightness, every single thing in this. You can zing across the yard. No problem is.

Ethan Waldman 32:53

Now you have....

Eric Latocki 32:53

It's kind of like building an airplane.

Ethan Waldman 32:57

You have a group for people who are building these....

Eric Latocki 33:00

Yeah, a small group. And I think I'm leaning kind of towards using the Discord and a move over in the Discord. I think it's easier. Just haven't done... Just haven't really had time to do much with that kind of slowly moving over.

Ethan Waldman 33:19

Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Latocki 33:21

Hopefully get more people asking questions, sharing their - I want people to share their projects. That's, that's really what I want to see.

Ethan Waldman 33:29

Yeah. Have you considered? I don't know if there is, there are repositories for open source software. I don't know if they allow for open source plans and things. But that could be somewhere to look to kind of enter these in and I would I would also personally love to see somebody with a tiny house build one of these and put one in.

Eric Latocki 33:57


Ethan Waldman 33:58

It could be me. But I will be putting this out there. Especially if you live in a sunny area. Like if you're in Colorado, where you know, you get sunny days all winter long. This would be a real a real slam dunk in my opinion for a tiny house.

Eric Latocki 34:16

Oh, yeah, you're right. I mean, mountain communities out west. This is ideal. I mentioned I don't know if this was pre interview. But you know, I worked on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation. It gets cold. And there's a lot of people having to burn wood. Many of my students had wood, wood stoves, and that's a lot of work. A lot of expense. And it's not exactly healthy to be breathing in all that smoke. You know, it's several students that mentioned you know, how smoky their homes were. I remember that being an issue.

Ethan Waldman 34:58

Yeah, yeah.

Eric Latocki 34:59

Well, I was would love to, you know, somehow work with them someday.

Ethan Waldman 35:05


Eric Latocki 35:07

Because they have usually pretty small houses thrtr. You know, these are, some of these houses, you could them a tiny home. So that's kind of another wish of mine if I could get these get these going on the reservation.

Ethan Waldman 35:22

Yeah, I think it could

Eric Latocki 35:23

Save people a lot of

Ethan Waldman 35:24

save people a lot of money.

Eric Latocki 35:26

work and money. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 35:28

Yeah. Heat is expensive.

Eric Latocki 35:30

Maybe that could be a crowd fund. I feel heavy. You know? Something to think about you.

Ethan Waldman 35:37

Yeah. Yeah. Well, the website I'm gonna I'm gonna read it. It'll also be in the show notes for this episode is

Eric Latocki 35:51

Yes, just a beautiful URL, isn't it? My daughter named it.

Ethan Waldman 35:55

DIY Solar It's great, Just a dash between each thing.

Eric Latocki 36:01

But keyword, was keyword.

Ethan Waldman 36:04

It's keyword friendly. Exactly. Exactly.

Eric Latocki 36:06

Yeah. That's what was my goal. So yeah, come on over. If you're interested, everybody, come on, check it out. Please go watch the videos there. They make it so much easier.

Ethan Waldman 36:19


Eric Latocki 36:20

I suggest that people watch the video first.

Ethan Waldman 36:23


Eric Latocki 36:23

If they want to do it, then go to the guide. And then that takes you through each step with the, you know, along with all the materials.

Ethan Waldman 36:33

It looks like you know, you've got your YouTube channel, will you be you know, posting updates throughout the winter? Maybe from from your recent install?

Eric Latocki 36:43

That's the goal? Yeah, yeah. I want to get a lot of videos on that.We just have three right now.

Ethan Waldman 36:49


Eric Latocki 36:49

Well, the channel needs help people, please come over and do what you can to share.

Ethan Waldman 36:55

All right. Well, I will link to the YouTube channel as well. It'll all be on the show notes episode for this page - which after after the interview for listeners who know I'll I'll tell you where that where you can find that.

Eric Latocki 37:09

Awesome. Thank you. Thank you.

Ethan Waldman 37:11


Eric Latocki 37:12

Yeah, I think people it's it's fun to just watch it just a fun, kind of a relaxing video to watch. I don't put my face on it, you'll notice. It's just the kind of over the shoulder

Ethan Waldman 37:23

over the shoulder camera.

Eric Latocki 37:25

No frills,

Ethan Waldman 37:25

You've got a good voice. You've got like a good soothing voice so it's all easy to listen to.

Eric Latocki 37:30

Thank you very much.

Ethan Waldman 37:33


Eric Latocki 37:34

Well, this was fun, Ethan.

Ethan Waldman 37:35

Well, Eric Latocki, thank you so much for for being a guest on the show today. And thanks for sharing your your DIY solar heater plans with the world.

Eric Latocki 37:45

Absolutely. I appreciate you having me on. And I look forward to coming on again with some more data and maybe some new new information for you guys. So thanks a lot.

Ethan Waldman 38:01

Thank you so much to Eric Latocki. For being a guest on the show. This week. You can find the show notes including links to the DIY solar heater plans, lots of photos of the installation, the build videos, and a complete transcript at Again, that's Thank you so much to Eric Lattakia for being a guest on the show today. That is all for this week's show. I am your host, Ethan Waldman and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

Transcribed by

powered by

Subscribe to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast: