Last updated: October 15, 2015
- Solar Cooker at Cantina West will arrange solar cooking classes and demonstrations throughout Utah and southern Nevada for interested groups. Shade and seating will be provided for the class. More information...
News and recent developments
- NEW: October 2015: University of Arizona students have "Solar Oven Throwdown" - UA faculty have designed a course that includes a solar cooker contest for students who are considering a career in engineering, be they freshmen at the UA or upperclassmen at certain local high schools. It is a chance to learn about how engineering works, by working through design and construction of a device with a team. Read more... - Arizona Public Media
- July 2015: Tracking solar cooker headed to middle school - The Civano Middle School located in Tucson, Arizona, USA will be receiving a tracking solar box cooker for fall semester. Students will be able to learn firsthand about solar cooking. The cooker and tracking system has been designed by C. Alan Nichols, an engineer from the Tucson areas. Read more about the system at The Tracking Solar Cooker.
- June 2015: Solar cooking meets the tech community - Chef José Andrés invited Kirk Smith, a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, at UC Berkeley, USA, to join him at a panel discussion for environmentalists challenging the tech community held in Silicon Valley, California. Dr. Kirk has discounted solar cooking in the past, but now feels it is a viable part of the clean cooking solution to help preserve the environment and improve the health of the many cooks cooking over open fires. Dr. Smith and Andrés called on the audience to go back to their employers – the technology companies of the Bay Area – and apply as much innovative thinking to clean cooking, as has been applied to electric cars and evolving the jet engine. Delicious solar cooked mushroom tacos were prepared on the grounds outside of the conference. More information
- January 2015: Irene Perbal has explained how she used her experience promoting solar cooking in Sudan and Brazil to help out back in her home state of California, USA. She has been encouraging the use of solar cooking at local food banks. She began doing talks and seminars to train locals on how to build and use the cookers, including the underserved frequenting the food banks. Often her presentation includes sharing a lunch of solar cooked lasagne. Thinking Globally and Acting Locally - Huffington Post
- December 2014: In an article for National Geographic, Chef José Andrés writes about his pop-up restaurant, Sunny Day, which he opened at the Life is Beatufiul event in Las Vegas, NV. Sunny Day used solar cookers to cook their signature dish, vegetarian tacos, during the day and clean-burining ethanol in the evening. Read article...
- November 2014: As part of the "What I'm Thankful For" series, José Andrés explains that he is thankful that his family has a simple and safe method to cook their food, and how solar cooking and other fuel-efficient cooking methods are bringing this benefit to the world's poor, for whom access to traditional cooking fuels is becoming more difficult and expensive every year. Read more...
- October 2014: At the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas, NV, José Andrés debuted Sunny Day, his new solar-powered pop-up restaurant. His goal for the new pop-up restaurant is to educate Americans about clean cooking around the world. Interview with José Andrés
- September 2014: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, USA, Solar Cooker Research
- September 2014: Hawaii company awards solar energy grants - Hawaii Pacific Solar (HPS), a Maui-based solar PV design and installation company, has awarded two education grants totaling $2,718 for solar energy-related projects at Hokulani Elementary School and King William C. Lunalilo Elementary School, both Kaimuki Complex schools. A $500 grant was awarded to Aiea Elementary School to build a solar oven out of recycled products using renewable energy. Read more...
- September 2014: Raquel Redshirt presented her solar cooker design at the TEDxABQ 2014 conference in Albuquerque, NM on September, 6 2014. She stated that her solar cooker was a more health-conscious option in her community which has a high rate of diabetes. Read more...
- September 2014: Leonel Gotlibowski and The Sun Juicer completed a successful Kickstarter campaign! They set a goal of $15,000 and raised a total of $19,152. They describe the Sun Juicer as an emergency ultralight, compact, parabolic solar cooker. Read more...
- August 2014: A group of volunteers known as the Haiti Solar Oven Partners from First United Methodist Church of Jamestown, North Dakota recently traveled to Moffit, N.D., to help fabricate solar ovens to be used in Haiti. Teams of volunteers travel to Haiti each year to live in communities that have invited them. For ten days, these volunteers work with Haitians to build ovens and educate people about solar cooking. Their goal is to deliver 2,300 solar ovens plus hands-on training to Haitian families every year. Read more...
- July 2014: Solar cooking conference extols virtues of cookers to developing world (Sacramento Bee) - Hundreds of people Saturday cooked using only the power of the sun – a practice little used in the United States, but considered a liberating tool for women in developing countries that also helps curb greenhouse gas emissions. Read more...
- July 2014: Results of the US Solar Cooking Survey were presented by Natalia Blackburn at the American Solar Energy Society's SOLAR 2014 conference in San Francisco. During the afternoon of the paper's presentation, solar cooker volunteers, Judy, Rene, and two local elementary school students, brought in panel cookers, a box cooker, and an evacuated tube cooker for display. They talked about their solar cooking projects and answered questions. Judy had baked up scones in the San Francisco morning sun, so that the mostly photo-voltaic oriented crowd could taste what solar cooking was all about.
- April 2014: Three cheers for the Girl Scouts - Girl Scouts in Texas can now earn a solar energy patch
The history of solar cooking in the USA
Some of the many solar cooking non-governmental organizations based in the US are Solar Cookers International (SCI), Rotary International, the Solar Oven Society, the Solar Oven Society, and Solar Household Energy, Inc.
No precise numbers are available, but estimates suggest that perhaps as many as 10,000 Americans use solar cookers regularly. The electrical utility of the area, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), has been a strong supporter of solar energy usage. SMUD serves an area of more than a million people. Under earlier leadership, it pioneered the development of cleaner electricity generation, including building the first solar powered generating station in the United States. It has offered rebates for replacing old appliances with energy efficient equipment, it cooperated in planting of trees to lower the cost of air conditioning to consumers, as examples. For purposes of this report, it is important to note the strong support of SMUD for solar cooking education, including outreach to schools and community organizations. They have placed solar cookers with Scout troops, offered workshops in 65 schools of the area, and made available plans to build cookers to customers throughout their service area. In 1991, SMUD even produced a solar cooking cookbook. Reducing the use of electricity is in everyone's interest; this interesting example of a public utility's contribution to solar cooking as one contribution to solving the problem was noteworthy.
George Lof, a former director of the Industrial Research Institute at the University of Denver, Colorado, was an early pioneer of solar-powered techonolgy, including solar cooking. In the fifties, he experimented with a parabolic solar cooker design that he dubbed the "Umbroiler" because of its umbrella-like structure. He marketed the design, but it was a commercial failure for the times.
Considerable activity can also be found in the state of Arizona, probably the sunniest of the U.S. fifty states. The most important solar cooking fact about Arizona is that Barbara Kerr, the foremost expert on solar cooking in the U.S., lives in a small community in this state. She has created, and lives in, a Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center that demonstrates a wide range of ways to live lightly, rather than destructively, on the earth. Barbara is the author of several books (The full text of one is here) and articles on solar cooking, the creator and marketer (with her colleague, Sherry Cole) of a cardboard box cooker, the refiner of the CooKit as the first inexpensive but efficient solar cooker, and a never-ending source of information to those who seek her knowledge on the internet. A visit to Taylor, Arizona, is a trip to an important piece of solar cooking history.
Solar devices are also manufactured in this area. Early pioneers, Bob Larson and his wife Heather Larson, produced cookbooks and plans for solar dryers until their untimely deaths. Jay Campbell, a New Mexican engineer, has invented a range of cooking devices that won prizes for ingenuity and efficiency, though he is not a manufacturer but rather an idea person. One firm, Zone Works, makes and sells parabolics out of Albuquerque.
Unlikely as it may sound, the state of Minnesota has also made contributions to the development of the solar cooking. Mike and Martha Port, founders of the Solar Oven Society, have worked in a variety of Central American and Caribbean nations on various projects. Recently, they completed research and development of a new cooker, manufactured from recycled soda bottles; the device will help to fill the gap between the very inexpensive (but not so long lasting) CooKit and the more expensive box or parabolic cookers. With the assistance of a small business development grant from the State of Minnesota, charitable contributions from a range of churches and organizations, and the dedicated volunteer labor of the Ports over many years, they have recently been able to begin the sale and marketing, both in the U.S. and abroad, of the Sport. A collectivity of Minnesota churches made possible the shipment of 400 unassembled cookers to Afghanistan for sale at a subsidized price to people whose need for cooking energy is great.
While use of the solar cooker is not unknown in the U.S. it is by no means widely used. Most work of American promoters appears to have been devoted to projects in other parts of the world.
Climate, culture, and special considerations
Articles in the media
- NEW: October 2015: UA Students Make Tasty Treats in 'Solar Oven Throwdown' - Arizona Public Media
- September 2015: Why not sun-roasted chilies for Presidio, Texas? - Big Bend Now
- August 2015: Only the sun, Local green builder gets community cooking with solar power - Chico News and Review
- July 2015: Solar cookers sizzle in Sacramento heat - The Sacramento Bee
- July 2015: Solar academy under way at Cal Maritime - Times-Herald NEWS
- July 2015: Everyday Solar Cooking - Mother Earth News
- June 2015: Bloomfield fifth-graders create solar ovens - NorthJersey.com
- May 2015: Glenpool students celebrate end of school with solar cook-off - Glenpool World.com
- May 2015: Solar Sizzle: This ain't no Easy-Bake Oven! - Sierra Vista Herald
- May 2015: Friendship students win award for oven design - Olean Times Herald
- March 2015: Solar Cooking in the Snow with a Sunny Apple-Cobbler Recipe - Mother Earth News
- February 2015: Cedar Rapids engineering major develops solar stoves in India - Iowa Now
- January 2105: Thinking Globally and Acting Locally - Huffington Post
- October 2014: Using Solar Thermal Technology to Brew Beer in Colorado - Solar Thermal Magazine
- August 2014: First United Methodist Church volunteers help with solar oven - The Jamestown Sun
- July 2014: Solar ovens may stimulate student appetite for STEM - University of Arkansas
- July 2014: Ask James Dulley: Solar ovens are simple to make, easy to use - Rapid City Journal
- July 2014: Solar cooking conference extols virtues of cookers to developing world - Sacramento Bee
- June 2014: Young chefs harness solar power - Daily Press
- June 2014: Solar Cooking: The No-Fuel, No-Emissions Way to Make Dinner - Edible Manhattan
- May 2014: Solar ovens yield sunny side-up s’mores at WMS - Woodbury Bulletin
- May 2014: Solar Cooking in Third World Countries - Digital Journal
- January 2014: SUNY? students build solar Cookits - Observer, Dunkirk NY
- October 2013: Cooking biscuits on the UA Mall - Daily Wildcat.com
- September 2013: Haiti Solar Oven Partners visits the Black Hills to gain support for its mission - Rapid City Journal
- September 2013: Solar Oven Project to Help Haiti - KDLT News
- September 2013: Solar slow food - newsreview.com
- September 2013: Haitian to say thanks for solar ovens - The Bismark Tribune
- August 2013 Cooking Cookies with Solar Power - PBS Kids Zoom
- August 2013: Get Cooking With a DIY Solar Oven - AARP Blog
- July 2013: Mountain View Markets hosts annual solar cook-off - Las Cruces Sun-News
- July 2013: Solar stove with humble beginnings in Himalayas is now in Utah - The Salt Lake Tribune
- June 2013: Mojave Environmental Education Consortium hosts first-ever Solar Oven Cook-Off Competition - Daily Press
- June 2013: Northville Students Harness Solar Power for Tasty Treats - Northville Patch
- June 2013: Cook solar: California employees get sun-cooked snacks - Western Area Power Administration
- June 2013: Faith effort creates solar ovens for Haiti - The Bismarck Tribune
- May 2013: Two UI professors work to create inexpensive solar cooker - The Daily Iowan
- May 2013: Oak Hills students partner with French students on sustainable energy project - Cincinnati.com
- March 2013: Bedford family helps Nicaraguan villagers use solar cooking - Bedford Journal
- March 2013: Resident uses solar oven to eat healthy, reduce bills - Peoria Times
- March 2013: Hewlett-Packard alum sets out to change world with Nepal solar project - MercuryNews.com
- November 2012: UA Hosts Solar Oven Bake-Off - Arizona Public media
- October 2012: A Solar Stove for Haiti -The Sag Harbor Express
- December 2011: Solar cooking works, from sunny Brazil to Seattle - Crosscut.com
- December 2011: Zero-carbon cooking with sunshine Sacramento Nutrition Examiner
- August 2011: Sunny side up; Oak Park, California resident reminds us of the simplicity of solar cooking - Newsreview.com
- August 2011: Cinnamon Buns in the Solar Oven - Phoenix New Times
- July, 2011: Calabasas, CA Youth Help Raise Global Awareness - Calabasas Patch
- July, 2011: Solar cooking method could help local families in need - Ledger Dispatch
- July 2011: Solar cooking a boon to the homeless - Recordnet.com
- May 2011: Sun-baked meals gaining popularity - Utah Daily Herald
- April 2011: CFCC students hold first ever solar oven competition in North Carolina - WECT.com
- January 2011: New Jersey high school sophomore recognized for raising funds to purchase solar cookers for African refugees. - NJToday.net
- November 2010: Energy Justice Conference at CU-Boulder focuses on putting plans into action - Daily Camera
- September 2010: Ashland Middle School kids cook with homemade solar ovens - Ashland Daily Tidings
- September 2010: Plant City farmer lassos solar energy - St. Petersburg Times
- September 2010: The Art of Solar Cooking - East Bay Express
- July 2010: Ed Begley Jr. Answers Questions about Reliable Wind Power, Solar Cooking, and More - Planet Green
- July 2010: Teachers get lesson of their own - MidlandsConnect.com
- July 2010: 'Air-friendly' cooking for July 4 weekend - abc 15.com
- June 2009: Engineering Students Build Solar Ovens For African Orphanage - WMFD
- February 2009: These cooks busiest when sun is shining - San Diego Union-Tribune
- January 2009: The dish on solar cooking: Local group touts the benefits of the sun’s power - Sacramento News & Review
- August 2008: Galley of the sun: Backyard cooks go solar - The Arizona Republic
- August 2008: Energy a DNC theme - Steamboat Pilot & Today
- August 2008: Hands-on engineering, campus visit inspire former refugees - News at Princeton
- June 2008: Solar panels, clothesline (and solar oven) help family slash energy bills - CNN
- June 2008: Portable Solar Cookers For Tibet - Lucky!
- June 2008: Be Green: Here comes the sun - The Record
- June 2008: American Wins UK Insurance Institute's Talent Prize for Solar Oven - Insurance Journal
- April 2008: Arnold Schwarzenegger Tastes Solar Cooking: “Fabulous!” - Energy Seeds
- February 2008: Learning to cook without electricity - Deseret News
- January 2008: Sharing his daily bread - Student teaches Africans to bake using solar ovens - Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
- July 2007: Cooking With The Sun: Solar Cookers Get Put To The Test - America's Test Kitchen
- July 2007: Conservation Saves More Than the Environment - The Washington Post
- May 2007: Sacramento’s Solar Cookers International uses the sun to improve quality of life, one village at a time - Sacramento News Review
- January 2007: CNN Money features Sun Ovens, January 26, 2007
- January 2007: Actor Ed Begley Jr., to bring solar cooking to reality television
- January 2007: Here comes the sun with its power - The Washington Times
Audio and video
- January 2011:
- July 2010:
- July 2009:
- July 2009: Solar cookers featured - Good Morning America
- March 2009: Utah solar cooking is featured on KSL TV in Salt Lake City - KSL TV
- July 2007: Cooking With The Sun: Solar Cookers Get Put To The Test - America's Test Kitchen
Solar cooking blogs
- Colorado Bob's Solar Oven: A Solar Oven for the Small Street Vendor
- Utah Sun Ovens
- Homegrown Evolution - Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne write the blog Homegrown Evolution chronicling their adventures as urban gardeners, farmers, and solar cookers.
- Little Homestead in the City - An American family in Pasadena living simply since 1973
- Solar Cooker at Cantina West
- Chef Tess Bakeresse
- Chile Chews
- Solar Oven Chef
- SCI's Karyn Ellis's blog
- Sun Sky Soil
- My Sun Oven
- Solar Cooking for Mainstream Cooks
- An Adventure in Solar Cooking