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Last updated: 9 October 2017      
Sun Buckets logo, 1-4-17
Sun Bucket being charged with parabolic reflector, 1-4-17

A Sun Bucket being charged with a parabolic reflector. Photo credit: Sun Buckets

Sun Buckets cooking indoors, 1-4-17

Cooking indoors on a charged Sun Bucket. Photo credit: Sun Buckets

Sun Buckets is a commercial enterprise started by students and faculty at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois, USA. The company has taken on the the problem of storing solar thermal energy for use in cooking. First the Sun Bucket is heated in the sun. Then using the stored heat, cooking can be accomplished by users at any time of the day. Direct sunlight is not required for cooking, which is typical for most solar cookers. While improved combustion stoves have made advances in reducing fuel consumption, fuel collection and emissions are still a problem.

The Sun Bucket is a sealed container weighing approximately 10kg(22lbs) with a phase-changing latent heat storage material inside. The bucket is placed with a parabolic reflector in direct sunlight for a couple hours, charging the bucket with enough thermal energy for cooking use later in the day or even the next morning. The company reports the buckets may initially reach temperatures up to 400°C(750°F), and then will slowly cool.

The bucket utilizes a top cooking plate of aluminum, on which standard cooking pots and pans may be placed. The developers feel there may be a business model where charged Sun Buckets could be delivered to households for daily use, and traded for the depleted unit.

As of January 2017, the company is conducting final trial field testing, and plan to begin production of units.


  • October 2017: Seeking early adopters - Sun Buckets is seeking from 2 to 4 organizations that are early adopters (i.e., willing to try an early-stage innovation) to help implement and coordinate field-testing. Participating organizations may use the Sun Buckets to start a solar harvesting farm/business, or they may choose to give or sell the Sun Buckets to individual participants. Selection criteria for the field tests include: Candidate organizations must have at least 10 years experience working in the community of implementation and must have staff available at the site to assist with implementation, beginning in the next 5-9 months. Participants/users in the test group must be among those who spend a large portion of their income to purchase cooking fuel, and must directly benefit from fuel cost savings. Participants/users in the test group should prefer to cook inside and/or in the evening, thereby taking advantage of the storage and portability attributes of the new cooking system. Candidate organizations must be willing to invest from $5,000 to $10,000 US (the approximate value of the cooking system). Payment must be in advance and the exact amount will depend on the size of the test group. At the completion of the study, the organization or individual participants will retain ownership of the cooking system(s). The community location must have high levels of direct normal solar radiation – full sun without clouds or haze, and candidate organizations should ideally have experience with implementation of solar cooking systems. Candidate organizations may inquire further and express intent to apply by writing to
Haiti shipment, Sun Buckets, 7-19-17

Sun Buckets ready for shipment to Haiti Photo credit: Sun Buckets

  • May 2017: Sun Buckets to Haiti: Sun Buckets has moved into the production mode with units being readied for shipment to southwestern Haiti, with support from Loving Shepard Ministries. However, as of this date, Sun Buckets are not yet available for commercial sales.
Sun Buckets award Nov. 2016, 1-4-17

Photo credit: Ocean Exchange

  • January 2017: Sun Buckets receives environmental award: - The Gulfstream®Navigator Award 2016 was given to the solution that best demonstrates the greatest alignment with the 2016 theme with applicability across multiple industries generating positive impact on the environment, economies or health while respecting cultures around the world. Read more...

Audio and video

  • January 2017:
Stored Solar Thermal Energy - Cooking Without Fire, Fuel, or Emissions

Stored Solar Thermal Energy - Cooking Without Fire, Fuel, or Emissions

  • June 2016:
Sun Buckets Solstice

Sun Buckets Solstice

Here are some images of solar cooking with stored thermal energy using Sun Buckets. Happy solstice, everyone!

See also

External links


Sun Buckets

Email: Sun Buckets contact page