Last updated: 21 March 2018
The Solar Wall Oven was designed by Paul Funk and 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.
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 equatorial 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. Generally, a more east-facing wall cooker will favor cooking in the morning and/or a west-facing wall 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 focuses 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.
SunGenius Built-in Solar Oven
Johan van Wyk, the founder of SunGenius, undertook the challenge to take solar cooking to the comfort of the inside of the house. It should be a state of the art household appliance, which will compete with other household appliances for quality, convenience and style.
Due to the specific requirements and nature of the SunGenius Built-in Solar Oven, most houses were never designed to be fitted with such an appliance. Unfortunately, very little can be done about that, so we focus on practical solutions and new developments. The SunGenius oven and new architectural housing designs make the SunGenious Built-in Solar Oven a very attractive alternative to the conventional mobile solar cookers.
- NEW: March 2018: The window solar cooker designed by Avinash Prabhune of IIT Bombay looks pretty much like a microwave oven and it can be fitted into a window like an air conditioner. Unlike old fashioned, box-type solar cooker, this one has a cylindrical chamber that makes sure that it absorbs sunlight all through the day. It has a higher efficiency compared to box-type cookers and cooks faster. Prabhune says it can be idea for those living in multistoried buildings and those with a taste of ‘slow food’.
- May 2015: Joel Goodman Added studies for a thru wall nonimaging solar cooker unglazed box with glass mirrors. Read more...
- January 2015: Joel Goodman offers an updated presentation of his thru-wall solar cooker prefabricated parts. Read more...
- December 2014: Joel Goodman describes his design for thru-wall solar cooker prefabricated parts. Two prefabricated parts that fit together are: a thru wall door frame CSEB masonry form; and an unglazed reflector box with cookware support grill. An intention is for large quantity production with bio-plastics and in-shop mirror tiling. An aim is to produce prototypes with ferrocement or other suitable prototype materials. Cookware sizes determine door clearance dimensions. Dimension E is tall enough for upward door swing clearance. A thru-wall solar cooker has significant house plan and site design solar access factors, complicating house cluster and multi-story design. Read more...
- December 2014: Joel Goodman describes his design for prefabricated oven door from CSEB walls. The expansion-contraction difference between the CSEB and ferrocement, and movements (foundations, tremors, etc.) are concerns. And the wall curvature approximated with flat mirror tiles is a factor for the tile shapes and tile pattern. If there is a construction joint with sealant between the CSEB and ferrocement (G) the prefabricated ferrocement door form can be shaped so there are only straight line mirror tile cuts. Read more...
- July 2014: Thru-wall solar kitchen with multi-tube racks roll in-out. Joel Goodman describes a thru-wall solar kitchen with multi-tube racks roll in-out thru doors into the exterior cooking caustic zone, so that batch after batch can be cooked in a day. The multi-tube racks are within the volume of the exterior nonimaging reflector boxes, avoiding wind, and so that E and W end reflectors (repositioned at noon) flapping in wind gusts could not damage the tubes. The tubes can slip out of the racks for ease of tube cleaning.
- 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
Audio and video
- NEW: May 2002: Interview with Jim Scott talking about the solar wall oven design by him and Barbara Kerr
- Thru-wall solar cooker prefabricated parts, reflector box and door frame
- PV Pergola Cooker Studies
- Reflector augmented solar cookers, stills, autoclaves with PV pergola shade
- Environmental Feedback and Anthropometrical Results of a Solar Cooker for Houses in Arid Zones
- Wisconsin Thru-the-Wall Solar Cooker
- Scheffler Community Kitchen
- Prefabricated through-the-wall solar oven doorway frame - Joel Goodman
- December 2014: Ferrocement form for a through-the-wall solar cooker - Joel Goodman
- December 2014: Glazed cookware are considered for thru-wall cookers to unglazed nonimaging reflectors
- July 2006: Environmental Feedback and Anthropometrical Results of a Solar Cooker for Houses in Arid Zones - Arturo F. Buigues
- Design and experimental testing of an innovative building-integrated box type solar cooker - ScienceDirect (This article is available for a $35.95 USD fee.)
- Solar Wall Oven Do-It-Yourself Guidelines
- Solar Wall Oven frequently-asked-questions
- 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.