If we were able to use
solar power instead of burning wood or gas, we could take a huge step
towards reducing our impact on the planet. And then there’s the number
of empty propane canisters left behind on camping trips,
environment... While this all may sound like idealism, in fact it
could be a reality in the future because of the reliability of the sun
and the effectiveness of solar cookers.
Much research has been put
into developing solar ovens and other solar cookers for use in the
lesser developed parts of the world. These products were given for free
to many less fortunate people all over the world. Producing more of
these cookers could go a long way in reducing pollution on this
The only issue with some
of the solar cookers, especially parabolic cookers, is that they can be
a fire hazard
due to the fact that some of them focus the sun’s rays
into such a concentrated point that they can quickly set things ablaze.
Luckily, more advanced cookers are now on the market, which are simple
to build and use without losing any efficiency.
Solar cookers are also a
great option for those wishing to reduce the environmental impact of
their homes on the planet. While solar cookers may not be able to
completely replace a conventional oven just yet, they are still an
extremely effective and emission
free way of cooking food. They are
also a great alternative on camping trips and other outdoor activities,
eliminating the need to pack around propane or any other fuel with you
while camping or hiking in the mountains.
How Solar Cookers Work
If you want to build a
solar cooker, the first step is to understand exactly how solar cookers
harness and concentrate the sun’s heat to thoroughly cook food. Some
solar cookers focus the sun’s rays into a concentrated point, with the
food being placed directly above this point. These designs are known as
cookers and are crude and inefficient compared to more
designs. The other type of cooker is known as a box cooker. Box cookers
let sunlight into a box through a glass lid, and the sunlight is then
reflected inside the box. The food is placed inside and cooked through
this reflection of light and heat.
Build a Solar Parabolic
The designs for parabolic
cookers are quite simple and fairly effective, but the major drawback
is that they tend to be unsafe as they can quickly set things on fire.
Remember when you were a kid and you used a magnifying glass to focus
the sun’s light onto one small point?
This is exactly what
cookers do, albeit with a slightly larger reflecting dish. There are
many designs available online, but the effectiveness of the parabolic
cooker depends solely on the size of your reflector and how
the achieved beam of light is. The advantage of
parabolic cookers is that they can be quickly and easily put together,
with only a few parts
to worry about.
If you know how to
solar parabolic cooker, this information could be vital in an emergency
or survival situation when no other means of cooking or purifying water
are available. Even a very crudely constructed parabolic cooker is
capable of boiling water or cooking food, although the cooking process
may take longer with some of the simplest designs.
Constructing a Solar Box
Solar box cookers or
are also quite simple to build and use. They usually consist of an
insulated box, sometimes lined with a reflective material such as
aluminum foil, and a glass or plastic lid, which is sometimes also
reflective. Light - and more importantly, heat - passes through the lid
into the box and is contained in the box due to the insulation, thus
slowly heating the box and cooking the food.
One of the major drawbacks
of solar box cookers is that heat can quickly escape, especially if the
lid of the box is opened to put in or take out food. This is important
to keep in mind when constructing your solar oven, as it is important
to make it as insulated
as you possibly can, in order to retain more
Another surefire way to
increase the efficiency of your
solar oven, is to ensure you use
a lid that will reflect the light into
the box, thus taking advantage of parabolic cooking as well.
Solar box ovens can be
made in a variety of sizes, but keep in mind that the larger the box,
the more time it will take to cook your food. A major advantage of
solar box ovens is that they are usually very lightweight, so they can
be constructed at home and taken just about anywhere.
Step by Step Instructions For Building a Solar Box Cooker
The items you’ll need to build a solar cooker are two cardboard boxes,
one slightly larger than the other, and the larger box should have a
lid; aluminum foil; non-toxic glue; plastic wrap or clear oven bags
(this is a much cheaper option for the lid than glass); a roll of tape;
and a small piece of wire to prop the lid open.
Step 1: First, take the lid for the larger box and place it upside down
with the smaller box on top of it. You’ll need to mark the outsides of
the box on the lid with a marker. Take the box off and measure in ¼
inch from each line. Now cut along the new lines front line and the
sides, leaving the back attached. This will be the lid flap that will
help redirect light into your cooker, so you want to ensure that it is
slightly smaller than the small box to ensure no air is able to escape
between the boxes. Fold along you last remaining line so the lid flap
Step 2: Now, you need to glue a layer of aluminum foil to the inside of
the smaller box and also to the lid flap. Then, place the smaller box
inside the larger one, making sure there is a small gap between the
two. This air pocket eliminates the need for any additional insulation
of your cooker. Now place the lid on to make sure that there is no
visible gap between the boxes.
Step 3: Glue the lid to the two boxes, making sure to leave the lid
flap open. You may need to place some small pieces of cardboard inside
the air gap between the boxes to keep them from shifting around. Your
cooker should now be one solid unit.
Step 4: The final step is to place your food inside the box, and then
tightly tape your plastic wrap or oven bags over the opening in the
smaller box, ensuring that it is airtight. This will trap the heat
inside your box. Now use your piece of wire to prop the lid flap open
at around a 60 to 70 degree angle to reflect sunlight into the box.
You’ll need to take the plastic wrap off to check the food, but this is
true of any box cooker.
a solar oven in
your home for emergency purposes is a good idea, as you will be able to
cook and purify water even when there are no other energy sources
available. You can be assured that whatever design you choose when
building your solar cooker, the end result will be a completely clean
and effective means of cooking food.
are a great addition to any
emergency or survival kit, as the sun’s energy is always freely
available. Even if no other power or fuel sources are available, you
can rest comfortably knowing that you’ll always be able to purify your
drinking water and cook your food through the use of simple, yet
effective solar energy.
for some useful links for further reading: for even more detailed,
pictorial overviews of building solar ovens, you could try visiting Chelsea Green or Green Learning. For really in-depth explanations you might also like Bill's website or Joe's website.
If you're interested in other cool DIY solar projects, we recommend the Renewable Energy Innovation website, that has tons of cool ideas, including solar cookers but also other neat stuff.