The Solar Wall Oven was Barbara Kerr’s pet project for over two decades. Since 1985, when she first built one into the house she designed, she has wanted to make this cooker available to the world. The main impediments have been how to draw up plans for constructing the oven, and how to instruct people to correctly install it. Now, Do-It-Yourself Guidelines for design of the oven have been drawn up to appeal to designers, architects, builders, and remodelers so they can create their own variations to suit their circumstances. It does not provide detailed construction plans either for the cooker or its installation. This leaves wide latitude for selection of materials that are locally available and/or compatible with the type of home construction. This document also contains instructions on how mount the oven in the south wall of a house positioned to receive sufficient sunlight to cook properly. Over the years there has been a continuing interest in the Solar Wall Oven from people desiring a truly practical solar cooker. We hope these guidelines will at last succeed in making it possible for them to incorporate one into his or her lifestyle.
To build a solar wall oven you need a kitchen (or other convenient room) with an unshaded south facing wall. Yes, it would be less expensive to incorporate this "feature" when building a new home. Still, for those with the ability to do so, I believe there is ample reason to consider knocking a hole in your wall and adding one to an existing home. Here is why.
First let's look at the benefits of using any solar oven:
- It does not use up non renewable fuel resources
- It does not create or cause to be created any kind of pollution.
- The energy it uses is FREE!
Now let's look at the additional benefits you get when building the solar oven into the wall of your home:
- Convenience - You don't have to go outside, your solar oven can be as accessible as a conventional oven.
- Lower cooling costs - the heat generated for cooking is still kept outside your home, even though the food can be accessed from inside.
- Heating - when not used for cooking, an in-wall solar oven will help heat up the room it's in by simply leaving the oven door open.
So there you have it. Building a solar oven into a wall of your home will help you save energy, save money, lower emissions, lower cooling costs, lower heating costs . . . at no added inconvenience.
Note: The Solar Wall Oven are more suitable for homes in the temperate zones away from the equator. In equitorial zones, the sun rises in the east and the following a path to directly above the house. It then continues this path until it reaches the horizon in the west. This makes a south-facing wall oven less practical in this zone if there is any overhead eave shading. A more east-facing cooker will favor cooking in the morning and/or a west-facing cooker is suited for cooking later in the day.
Scheffler Community Kitchen variation
The Scheffler Community Kitchen, designed by Wolfgang Scheffler, incorporates a large parabolic reflector installed facing the exterior kitchen wall, which focusses the concentrated light through an opening in the wall. The reflector typically has a tracking system to keep the reflector aligned with the sun. On the other side of the wall, cooks can bake and grill food at a convenient working height. The cook space can be installed in a traditional home, or behind a free-standing wall on a raised platform, allowing the cooks to work in a shaded space. A community kitchen like this can be shared by village members.
Recent news and developments
- December 2012: Joel Goodman describes and illustrates the constraints and opportunities for incorporating a permanent thru-wall solar cooker in home design. Wisconsin Thru-the-Wall Solar Cooker
- Environmental Feedback and Anthropometrical Results of a Solar Cooker for Houses in Arid Zones
- Wisconsin Thru-the-Wall Solar Cooker
- Scheffler Community Kitchen
- The Terra Foundation's data sheet on this cooker
- Do-It-Yourself Guidelines
- Barbara Kerr's US Patent for a Through-the-wall oven
- Through-the-wall ovens: Weather-proof ovens that allow access from inside the kitchen - Dr. Paul A. Funk
- The Scheffler Community Kitchen is another type of through-the-wall solar cooker.
Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center for information on Barbara Kerr's Solar Wall Oven