Solar box cookers and solar panel cookers normally do not need to be turned to follow the sun unless you are cooking beans or an especially large amount of food. They may need to be moved slightly a couple times over a three or four hour cooking period. However, parabolic solar cookers require constant reorientation with the sun to remain effective cookers. If tracking the sun is necessary, some of the ideas below might serve this purpose.
Scheffler Community Kitchen tracking systems
Simply Solar provides explanation of their various tracking systems at Scheffler tracking systems. The mechanical system incorporates a clockwork mechanism, and often uses recycled bicycle parts. It is run by a weight and controlled by a pendulum. Resetting the reflector back from the evening position to the morning position is done by hand. They also offer photovoltaic options as well.
Programable tracking systems
Still in its infancy, programable tracking systems are being developed with software to not only rotate the reflector to maintain maximum exposure to the sun, but to also control cooking time and desired temperatures.
Photovoltaic tracking systems
A clever system has been developed by several designers, which uses two photovoltaic panels configured to maintain an even balance of power to a small electrical turntable motor. The required photovoltaic panels typically are fairly small, and are placed side by side, but at slightly different angles to face the sun. As the sun moves across the sky one panel will begin to receive less photo gain.
The resulting electrical imbalance causes the dominant panel to engage the motor. The turntable will rotate until both photovoltaic panels face the sun equally, and the motor disengages. The simple system can be fairly lightweight for rotating a box or panel cooker. However, a larger parabolic solar cooker, which will benefit the most from a good tracking system, will require a stronger motor and larger panels to rotate the cooker.
Audio and video
- December 2010: Programable system tracks the sun, and turns the reflector away when cooking is completed.
|March 2011: Box cooker rotated by PV panels sending power to 12 volt motor. As one PV panel begins to receive less light, it sends less power to the servo, which operates the motor until both panels are a sending balanced power stream.|
|April 2010: UC Berkeley student tracking system demonstration|
|March 2010: Tracking Solar Accumulating Barbecue - Brian White|
|May 2008: Clock based dripper tracker demo|
|June 2006: Dripper tracker for parabolic solar accumulator|
- Scheffler Community Kitchen
- Sun Switch
- Tracking Solar Accumulating Barbecue
- Brian White
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- Readymade Solar Oven Trackers available for purchase at: www.solaroventrackers.com
- Solar Oven Trackers - Small Power Systems
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- Appropedia heliostats article
- LightManufacturing Systems heliostats (commercial) and Solar Manufacturing systems