Not everyone agrees on how best to test solar cooker variations and how to report the results of these tests. Some argue for some standardized test with standard measurements and some way to report absolute results. Others take a more low-tech, practical approach and suggest the following method of testing and reporting:
- Heat a liter of water simultaneously in two cookers, one with the modification to be tested and one without.
- After a time (before the water boils in either cooker), measure the temperature of the water in both cookers.
- Use these measurements to determine how many degrees each cooker raised the temperature of the water.
- Calculate the percentage difference between these two temperature changes and report this along with a description of the modification that you tested.
Solar cooking expert Barbara Kerr uses a variation of this method:
- With the cookers side-by-side on a sunny day, put 1/4 cup rice and 1/2 cup water in identical, black-colored "soup" cans covered with a small piece of clear glass, and place one in each cooker.
- Without opening the cookers (or bag in panel cookers), watch for rice rising to the surface of the water.
- The first one to rise is the hottest.
- International opportunity for testing solar cooker designs: July 2011 - June 2012 - Originally announced as a one-time event Oct. 11-13, 2011 with a related conference, the solar cooker competition has been cancelled, and instead there will be a year-long opportunity for having solar cookers and fuel stoves tested free, starting this month. India’s Promoters and Researchers in Non-Conventional Energy (PRINCE) group have updated standards for solar cookers, developed in conjunction with input from SCWNet members. These universal testing standards will be used to evaluate the cookers by simulating real world conditions. Designers, manufacturers, NGOs and individuals are invited to submit solar cookers for testing, and need not be present for the tests. While there will be no cash prizes, solar cookers will be rated on thermal performance, cost of manufacture and transport, and user convenience. Send cookers anytime between now and June 2012 to: Prof. Ajay Chandak, PRINCE, Shamgiri, Opp Swagat Lodge, Agra Road, Deopur, Dhuli – 424005, Maharashtra, India. Include your usual instructions for consumers. If you wish your cooker returned, please arrange to cover return shipping costs. After testing, entrants will be contacted with results, and have the option of omitting their information in the publicly listed ratings. No reply from entrants within two weeks or so after receiving their results will be taken as consent to publish. Other questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partnership for Clean Indoor Air: Stove Performance Testing Protocols
- "Stove performance varies greatly, and the performance of a specific stove is often different in the lab and in the field. Testing allows implementers to learn how well stoves perform and to quantify improvements in fuel efficiency and emissions. Test results can be used to guide implementation decisions and to improve stove design and performance. Below is a collection of stove testing resources that may be of interest to PCIA Partners." - PICA
Water Boiling Test (WBT)
- The Water Boiling Test is a laboratory test that evaluates stove performance while completing a standard task (boiling and simmering water) in a controlled environment to investigate the heat transfer and combustion efficiency of the stove. They are the easiest, quickest, and cheapest to conduct, but reveal the technical performance of a stove, not necessarily what it can achieve in real households.
- WBT testing protocol
Controlled Cooking Test (CCT)
- The Controlled Cooking Test is a field test that measures stove performance in comparison to traditional cooking methods when a cook prepares a local meal. The CCT is designed to assess stove performance in a controlled setting using local fuels, pots, and practice. It reveals what is possible in households under ideal conditions but not necessarily what is actually achieved by households during daily use.
- CCT testing protocol
Kitchen Performance Test (KPT)
- The Kitchen Performance Test is a field test used to evaluate stove performance in real-world settings. It is designed to assess actual impacts on household fuel consumption. KPTs are typically conducted in the course of an actual dissemination effort with real populations cooking normally, and give the best indication of real world changes. The KPT is benchmark testing that solar cookers will also need to be evaluated with. It will help in finding the appropriate solar cooking technology to partner with other clean-fuel cooking options. The primary goal is to find integrated cooking solutions to stem the environmental damage currently being caused by deforestation, and eliminating respiratory disease from cooking with smokey, inefficient fuels over open fires.
- KPT testing protocol
Audio and video
- June 2010: Kitchen Performance Testing Webinar - Case Studies: China and Ghana - Partnership for Clean Indoor Air
- Thesis on Solar Cooking Testing Standards - Shawn Shaw
- Parabolic solar cooker standards
- ASAE solar cooker performance testing standards
- July 2006: Proposal for New World Standard for Testing Solar Cookers - Ashok Kundapur