Solar cooking is no longer a novel idea. It is a proven method of cooking that is fun, easy and saves energy. There is a wide range of solar cookers that can replace your oven, stove top burner and crock pot.
Solar cookers can be store bought or home made, large or small. There are new technologies coming to market and there’s at least one solar cooker that claims that it can cook even after the sun has gone down.
There are three basic types of solar cooker. The first type is known as a solar box oven or 60/30 cooker. These act much like conventional ovens and allow you to bake and roast. Box ovens can reach temperatures of 300 F or more. There are several commercial versions, including Sun Oven international’s American Sun Oven. Box cookers are also fairly easy to build for do-it-yourselfers, however it’s important that any materials used can handle high heat without giving off dangerous fumes. This is true of any home made solar cooker.
A fairly new style of solar cooker that works like a box cooker uses an evacuated tube. Because these ovens are limited by the inner diameter of the tube, these ovens do not have the ability to cook very large quantities of food at once, but they cook quickly and often work when other solar cookers do not. The GoSun Sport is an excellent evacuated tube cooker.
Another type of solar cooker is known as the panel cooker. These are slow cookers which work like a crock pot and allows you to makes soups, stews, rice dishes and casseroles. Well made panel cookers can reach temperatures of 200+ F. The Hot Pot from Solar Household Energy (SHE) is an excellent panel cooker, and these too can be easily built at home.
Parabolic and Fresnel Lens Cookers
There are also solar cookers that get hot as hot as a stove top burner. These cookers cook very quickly and at very high temperature. They can be used to boil water, fry and sauté. These burner-like cookers use concentrated sunlight to cook. Large Fresnel lenses and and reflective parabolic dishes are generally used in solar cookers of this type. These cookers cannot be left unattended and can be very dangerous. Because they concentrate sunlight, rather than just reflect it, they can reach temperatures of over 800 F, and can easily cause burns or start fires if they are not used properly. These solar cookers need to be kept out of the sun when not in use. The SolSource from One Earth Designs is a very nice parabolic solar cooker.
With these three types of solar cooker (oven, slow cooker and stove top burner) it is possible to prepare almost anything you can cook in your kitchen using only the sun.