Solar cookers use concentrated sunlight to generate heat in a cooking vessel. They can be constructed out of many different materials.
Solar cookers come in several basic forms: box, panel and parabolic models.
Parabolic cookers are one of the most efficient solar cooking methods, as they concentrate all sunlight at one focal point. Not only that, but these cookers also require minimal setup and upkeep while cooking food at high temperatures.
Parabolic dishes are composed of a reflector and metallic structure to support it. Their shape allows for maximum energy concentration, with different settings available such as grilling or frying.
Make a simple solar cooker using recycled cardboard by creating an reflective reflector (see diagram). Make sure the dish is large enough to capture and concentrate enough sunlight for boiling water in 10 minutes or less.
Some researchers have also tested solar concentrating cookers with thermal storage, which may be particularly useful during times of low sunlight when it can heat food faster than standard box or panel solar cookers.
Solar cookers use concentrated sunlight to cook food on a mirrored surface. On sunny days, these devices can reach temperatures of 65 degC (150 degF) for baking or 400 degC (750 degF) for grilling or frying.
Trough solar cookers offer a cost-effective alternative to parabolic cookers. Furthermore, these cookers produce much more heat than other solar cooker types.
Trough cookers are simpler to construct than parabolic cookers, as they don’t need to be reoriented to follow the sun’s path; instead, trough cookers can stay in one position for extended periods of time.
They are ideal for frying, grilling and boiling food; however they lack slow-cooking capabilities. On the contrary, they work well with retained-heat systems to prepare items like rice or beans which require longer cooking times at lower temperatures.
The box solar cooker is an efficient and popular type of solar oven. It can cook the same foods as a standard oven or slow cooker with similar results.
They use reflectors to direct light into a box, glazing to let more daylight in and trap heat, and insulation to retain as much warmth as possible.
Box cookers typically reach temperatures of 150 degC (300 degF). While not as hot as an oven, these temperatures are still sufficient to cook food over a longer period of time.
Box solar cookers offer a simple and versatile design that can be built quickly using inexpensive materials. However, due to their small reflector area and need for an enclosed greenhouse to keep the pot insulated, they may not be as efficient as other solar ovens.
Panel cookers are the simplest solar cooker type to construct and the most popular. They use reflectors to gather sunlight into a large area and direct it towards a black cooking pot that’s placed inside an insulated oven bag.
The air inside an oven bag helps to retain heat, which is then converted into thermal energy and radiates along aluminum foil interiors on your panels, cooking your food.
Solar cookers are an efficient way to cook foods with less energy than traditional stovetop or oven methods, conserving fossil fuel and electricity usage. Furthermore, they don’t produce mutagens or carcinogens like high-temperature stovetop or oven cooking does.