Solar Power and You
Passive Solar Design
Saving Money and the Environment
I've been hearing about solar ovens. I would be very interested in getting one of those for my family as we camp a lot and believe in being prepared in every way. What can you tell me about building and using a solar oven?
Elen from Virginia Beach
Just last week I started looking for the same thing! At last I finally found how to make some very easy cookers and also other info. Here's where to go SolarCooking.org
We have both homemade and commercial solar ovens and use them as often as we can. We love to introduce them to our new boy scouts each year and open minded folks wishing to tread lightly on the earth. You can cook mostly anything in a solar oven that you would at home with a few modifications. Basically in 2 - 3 hours, you can have a chicken cooked perfectly to perfection. It is more like slow roasting at 250 - 350 degrees F with the meat falling off the bones! Vegetables or a casserole can be cooked while you are at work. Simply point the solar oven toward noon. The food will be at maximum temperature at noon and maintain a perfect serving temperature until supper time when you get home. Food normally does not burn, but you do have to gain enough experience to put in enough moisture to ensure it won't boil dry. Generally cooking vegetables requires very little water, but beans or a casserole will require more moisture. Put some nacho's and Velveeta cheese on a plate for ten minutes in the solar oven and you'll win their hearts over completely. Be sure and wear sun glasses and use oven mitts when working around a solar oven to avoid the intense glare and heat.
Commercial solar ovens generally can get to a hotter temperature, but homemade ones perform equally as well and are cheap to make if kept out of the weather. To find commercial solar ovens on the internet, visit SunOven.com. Sun Ovens are wonderful.
In Amy Dacyczyn's The Tightwad Gazette II, there is an article that tells how to make and use a solar cooker. She also includes a list of companies that sell kits or ready-made cookers.
I've looked around for one for a few years, and finally just made one. I used a cardboard box. I cut a hole in the top for the sunlight to get into the box. I covered the hole with cooking bags, instead of glass. I thought it would be safer, and decreased the weight quite a bit. I lined the whole thing with aluminum foil. It works pretty well. I also added some more reflectors made of foil covered cardboard. They add a little to the over temperature.
Mother Earth News has the best plans and information on solar ovens.
A friend and I built one for a science project and attempted to roast a chicken. This was in Denver, Colorado, where sunny days rule, and it was early spring. The chicken did not roast completely.
We did, however, prepare a wonderful snack of nachos with melted cheese for the science fair. It was a big hit.
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