Last updated: 8 June 2017      
Haines Solar Cooker

The Haines Solar Cooker

"It boils water 50% faster than any other panel or box cooker," says Roger Haines of San Diego, California, USA, based on his side-by-side tests comparing the Haines Solar Cooker with seven other commercial panel and box cookers. According to Roger, the Haines Solar Cooker heated a liter of water to boiling in about an hour, while the next-best cooker took an hour and a half. and some cookers did not reach the boiling point at all. Successive tests were conducted in Del Mar, California on several calm days in August, 2015 with ambient air temperatures around 25 °C (77 °F). For the full report, go to

These solar cookers are available in the U.S. through Haines Solar Cookers, but outside the U.S., the design is "open source". Roger's Rotary Club distributed 291 solar cookers in Nairobi in 2013 and found that, on average, solar cooking saved $9 a month in firewood costs. A new Rotary project, partnering with Washington D.C.-based Solar Household Energy, is facilitating the manufacture and sale of Haines Solar Cookers in stores in Nairobi by the Kenya-based NGO, NAREWAMA,

The Haines reflector is made of MPET (metalized polyester) film bonded to 3mm of IXPE (cross-linked polyester) foam, with a white PET film backing. The reflective polyester will not oxidize, cannot be scratched off, and has a high melting point. Importantly, the new material is easy to recycle and is environmentally safe through the whole production and recycling process without pollution. In the U.S., this material is used to make high-end auto windshield sunshades that last more than 10 years.

The reflector

The reflector is a 60 cm. x 120 cm. (2' x 4') rectangle of reflective material, with three cuts. Overlapping the cuts as shown produces a flat bottom and a parabolic shape, secured with a single brass fastener inserted through grommet holes. The cooker sits solidly on the ground and withstands strong winds when secured by a string passed through holes in the bottom of the cooker. When the sun is low, the front of the cooker can be tilted down to catch more sun.

The cooking sleeve

2014 Cooking sleeve

Cooking sleeve for the Haines Solar Cooker

Because disposable plastic "oven bags" are expensive and awkward, Roger designed a permanent "cooking sleeve" to insulate the cooking pot while keeping the lid accessible during cooking. The sleeve is a 6" x 48" (15 cm. x 120 cm.) rectangle of UV-resistant 0.5 mm. clear polycarbonate film. rolled into a cylinder that is adjustable to fit any round cooking pot that has a top rim and no handles. The top rim of the pot rests on the top rim of the cooking sleeve, elevating the pot so that the sun's rays can be reflected onto the bottom of the pot. Roger has found that a glass lid works best because it retains more heat.

The cover

Haines I Windscreen alone

Haines Windscreen

A circular cover keeps the reflector rigid in the wind and creates "oven-like" conditions around the cooking pot. The cover is made from a 60 cm. (2-foot) diameter circle of 0.5 mm UV-resistant polycarbonate film. For increased rigidity, a radius cut is overlapped 7 cm (3 in) to form a flat cone like a sun hat. The overlap is secured by a string connecting grommet holes in the cover and the reflector. To access the pot, the cover can be moved to the side, as shown in upper left of the photo.

Shipping and storage

Haines Solar Cooker in storage bag, 11-17-14

The cooker packed for storage or transport.

For shipping and storage, the cooker rolls into a cylinder 60 cm (23.6 in) long and 10 cm (3.9 in) in diameter, weighing 0.5 kg (1.1 lbs).


  • October 2016: Eagle Scout organizes a build of thirty solar cookers for Haiti - For his Eagle Scout project, Russell Desrosier of Fairfax, Virginia, USA, arranged for his Boy Scout troop to build thirty Haines Solar Cookers for Haiti. In the group photo, Russell in the one in the funny hat made from a circular cover. Russell plans to deliver the cookers in January, 2017 to recipients in Haiti as part of a project organized by WeCareToShare, Chantal, a medical-dental relief team that has been working in Chantal, Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. Chantal is a rural rice-farming village approximately 250 km from Port Au Prince on the Tiburon Peninsula. The team obtained a grant from Rotary District 7610 to improve a kitchen at one of the Chantal schools with almost 900 students in grades K - 12. The group has been consulting with solar cooking experts Mary Buchenic and Sharon Cousins, and plans an intensive one week workshop on solar cooking for the village. They'll be teaching the school cooks to use solar cooking as well as teaching adults from the village.
Wapi Chuck and Marge 2016
  • February, 2016: On February 13, 2016, about 40 young people from San Diego Rotaract Clubs spent their Saturday at the University of California, San Diego, making almost 1,000 Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPIs), for solar cooker projects in East Africa. These simple, reusable devices use a short plastic tube with wax that melts at pasteurization temperature (about 66 C.) to show when water is safe to drink. Because they eliminate the need to heat water to boiling, they permit twice as much water to be pasteurized in a day. Roger Haines made a presentation about Rotary's Solar Cooker Project in Gulu, Uganda, Five hundred of the WAPIs will be given away wiith the Haines Solar Cookers that will be distributed in March-April, 2016.
Haines Cooker used by Camily Wedende February 2016
  • February 2016: On February 1, 2016, Camily Wedende of Sun Cookers International in Eldoret, Kenya, put on a "train the trainer" program in preparation for the Gulu, Uganda, Rotary Club's distribution of 500 Haines Solar Cookers in Northern Uganda. Geoffrey Okello of the Rotary Club of Gulu reported that the group benefited greatly from Mr. Wedende's solar cooking knowledge and experience and above all learned how to cook African staple foods in a solar cooker. To cook Posho (ugali), the flour needs to be mixed with cold water and covered, instead of the normal way of first boiling the water before adding the flour, and no stirring is required. Sweet potatoes and cassava need to be cut into small pieces, eggs have to be placed directly on the solar cooker instead of the normal way of boiling in water. The group made and drank tea before cooking the following food items for lunch: Sweet potatoes, rice, green vegetables, eggs and posho.
Amayo AVF training group photo

John Amayo demonstrating Haines Solar Cookers in Kiwumu, Kenya

  • John Amayo demonstrates and sells Haines Solar Cookers in Kisumu, Kenya.
  • November 2014: Solar Cooker Business Opportunity. Roger reports that a prominent Nairobi, Kenya building supply company is now selling materials to make "open source" Haines Solar Cookers for $15 per cooker in wholesale quantities of 50 or more. Contact Nishal Sodha at Global Hardware, Ltd., a subsidiary of Elgon-Kenya (, telephone: +254 20 2399998, +254 20 2399998/7. Cell: +254 786 456 225; E-Mail: Finished cookers are available from Faustine Odaba, director of the Nairobi NGO, NAREWAMA. Telephone: +254722828317; Email:

How to Make a Haines Solar Cooker

Making the reflector

Haines II New Template 001

Template for version II

Haines Foam Insualtion Cooker folded open, 2-10-14

Partially-assembled Haines reflector

  1. Make a template from a 60 cm. x 120 cm. rectangle of thin material using a saw to make 3 cuts, and drill 6 small holes "B" and "C" as shown.
  2. Lay a large piece of plywood on a table.
  3. To "guide" the material, attach a length of 2 cm. square wood to the plywood, exactly 60 cm from and parallel to the bottom edge, and another piece 124 cm. (four cm. longer than the 120 cm. template) from and parallel to the right edge of the plywood.
  4. Unroll 120 cm. of material onto the lower right-hand corner of the plywood, and line it up with the "guides
  5. Lay the template on top of the reflective material and line it up with the "guides." Use a utility knife ("box cutter") along the right side of the template to cut 120 cm. of material off the roll, and to make the three cuts along the bottom edge. This will cut grooves into the plywood, but that is okay.
  6. Use a black pen to MARK the 7 holes on the reflective material. Lift the template. Lay a small stiff template on the "fold" lines, and FOLD the material, allowing it to unfold.
  7. Move the material to another table, and use a grommet tool to install GROMMETS at the 7 marked places.
  8. Put a brass connector through the hole in short middle section, pointing up, and spread the two sides apart.

Making the cover

Haines Solar Copoker, windscreen cutting tool, 11-17-14

Knife blade attached to windscreen cutting tool.

Haines Solar Cooker, cutting the windscreen, 11-17-14

Cutting the circular windscreen.

  1. Cut a flat square or circle of plywood or fiberboard at least 65 cm. on a side.
  2. Put a nail through the exact center, so that the nail protrudes at least 3 cm.
  3. Take a 3 to 5 cm. square of wood, about 35 cm. long. Screw a box cutter blade to the end as shown. WARNING: put tape over the left part of the blade for safety.
  4. Drill a hole slightly bigger than the nail approx. 29.75 cm. from the blade.
  5. Take a sheet of 60 cm. x 120 cm. clear polycarbonate film. Treat as two 60 cm. squares, and drill a hole at the center of each 60 cm. square, the same size as the nail.
  6. Lay the polycarbonate sheet on top of the flat plywood, with the nail through one of the drilled holes.
  7. Put the piece of wood with the cutting blade on top of the sheet polycarbonate, with the nail through the hole in the wood and the cutting blade down.
  8. Press down on the wood so that the blade cuts into the polycarbonate, and rotate 360 degrees to cut a clean circle.
  9. Use scissors to make a "radius" cut from the edge to the center.
  10. NOTE: The sheets come with protective film on both sides. REMOVE this film now.
  11. Use the grommet tool to attach a grommet 1.5 cm. from the radius cut, a second grommet 6 cm. from the other side of the radius cut, and a third grommet 180 degrees opposite, on the other side of the circle.
  12. Tie 42 cm. lengths of braided string to the two opposite holes.

Making the cooking sleeve

The cooking sleeves come ready-made as 16 cm. x 120 cm. sheets. However, the protective film on both sides must be removed.

See also

External links


See Roger Haines.

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