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Last updated: April 25, 2016      

Designers and manufacturers have taken varied approaches to creating solar cookers. The most commonly used have been solar box cookers and solar panel cookers. They work well for slow cooking, are generally less expensive to buy than other styles, and are fairly easy for most people to build themselves. Variations of these designs have typically been used to introduce solar cooking in deforested developing countries starting in the 1950s. High-quality manufactured models are available for purchase from vendors in many countries.

Parabolic solar cookers also have a long history of use, primarily in Europe and Asia. They cook at higher temperatures and usually require more complicated fabrication. A number of models are available from manufacturers. They can be used in series to create steam for institutional kitchens feeding thousands of people per day.

Evacuated tube solar cookers are compact and can cook quite efficiently. Several models are available commercially. Other variations of solar cookers are also included in the subcategories listed below.

Types of solar cookers

Solar panel cooker designs

CooKit photo reversed

The CooKit is a very simple solar panel cooker.

Advantages

  • Inexpensive to build or buy, and typically can be collapsed for storage or transport
  • Slow cooking retains flavors and nutrients, and requires little, if any, reorientation to the sun

Disadvantages

  • Usually achieves temperatures to 110 - 140 °C (230 - 284 °F), and can not fry foods
  • Homemade units are difficult to weatherproof

Solar box cooker designs

Minimum Solar Box Cooker Photo small reversed

The "Minimum" Solar Box Cooker is a popular solar box cooker design that can be easily constructed using cardboard boxes.

Advantages

  • Some large enough to cook with multiple pots, also great for baking and slow cooking
  • Can be constructed with simple materials, with several high quality commercial designs also available

Disadvantages

  • The box design may block light entering the cooking chamber unless the unit is tipped
  • Can not fry foods. Cooking temperature range is 135 - 200 °C (275 - 392 °F)

Parabolic solar cooker designs

SolSource Solar Stove reversed

The SolSource is an efficient parabolic solar cooker.

Advantages

  • Cooking times are similar to a traditional stovetop
  • High temperatures allow for food to be fried and grilled, typically 120 - 230 °C (248 - 446 °F)

Disadvantages

  • Requires periodic reorientation, often every fifteen minutes, which may be done with a mechanical solar tracking apparatus
  • Generally more expensive than panel and box cookers, and require more storage space

Evacuated tube solar cooker designs

SLiCK SM70 photo, 8-19-15

The SLiCK SM70 is an example of an evacuated tube style solar cooker.

Advantages

  • Usually compact, and can cook quite efficiently with relatively small reflectors required
  • Contemporary designs have aesthetic appeal

Disadvantages

  • The cooking chamber requires careful handling to avoid thermal shock and breakage of the glass tube
  • Glass technology somewhat limits the size of opening of the cooking chamber

Solar trough cooker designs

Parabolic Trough Solar Cooker

A parabolic trough bread oven powers a solar bakery run by the Bethel Business and Community Development Centre in Lesotho.

Advantages

  • The curved trough reflector is efficient at gathering and focusing sunlight along a straight focal line
  • Works well with evacuated tube cooking chambers to create a compact package easy to store

Disadvantages

  • The trough design does not focus sunlight onto a standard cook pot
  • Not particularly well-suited for home enthusiast construction

Solar array cooker designs

GoSol Solar Concentrator

The GoSol Solar Concentrator, a typical solar array cooker design.

Advantages

  • Mirrored reflectors are flat panels, not requiring the complex curved shape of parabolic cookers, they can still reach temperatures typical of parabolic cookers
  • The metal frameworks to hold the mirrors can be assembled by craftspeople with basic welding skills

Disadvantages

  • Due to the relatively large size and geometry of some designs, they typically need to be reoriented by hand or by a mechanical tracking system
  • Can require more ground space than other solar cookers

Other design types

See also

External links

All Solar cooker designs

All Solar cooker construction plans

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