AuthorTopic: Solar Cookers  (Read 687 times)

Offline RE

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Solar Cookers
« on: October 29, 2016, 11:14:58 AM »
I've been working on my portable SHTF cooking kit, and one of the important things I want to include is a Solar Cooker.

Now, there are lots of "pro" models out there of the kind Eddie would buy with his infinite budget, but I am more Ghetto on these things and look for ways to do the same thing a lot cheaper.  Here is one model, and this guy roasts a chicken.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/SBfAvUUd4kM" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/SBfAvUUd4kM</a>

In this video you see one model, which is a fit together model from aluminized plastic.  It's quite neat, but by no means do you need to buy such a thing.  There are soft Zip Up models too to stuff in your backpack.  You can do just as well though with some cardboard and aluminum foil, and cut out your cardboard panels to make a parabolic shaped reflector.  Cardboard comes basically free if you just ask for box at the grocery store, a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil, maybe $5.  You don't need a lot, a 25 sq ft roll would be plenty.  Use some spray glue to stick it to the cardboard.

What intrigued me in this video was the way the oven container was made, just by using 2 glass bowls.  You can pick up Pyrex bowls and baking  pans in a huge variety of shapes besides the bowl shape, in fact for most cooking I think a rectangular shape is better.  You can get full sets of these things for as little as $15 on sale sometimes.  You need two matching ones to fit on top of one another, so you need two of everything, two sets, $30.

Ideally, your internal "oven" would be a cast iron Dutch Oven, but a lightweight aluminum pot or roasting pan will work OK long as it is black on the outside, or at least real dark in color.

Now, in mid-winter here in Alaska, I doubt you could use one of these things and get your chicken up to the necessary 160F to make it safe for eating.  Even on a sunny day, if the air temps are below say 30F, the cooker is probably going to lose heat as fast as it accumulates it even with clear skies and a strong winter sun.  However, even up here I suspect it would work fine from around April to around October.  In typical lower 48 locations, add a month on either side.  In the south, probably you can use it year around.  That is Northern Hemisphere, flip it around for Oz and NZ and Argentina.

Now, think of all the cooking fuel you could save here using one of these regularly!  Not too important for those of use in the 1st World for whom energy comes comparitively cheaply, but for someone in Sudan say where even spending 10 cents on cooking fuel is a lot of money, this would be a big boon.  Of course, they would need the Pyrex glassware, but that is a one time expense and pays off probably inside a year.

Globally, this would mean BILLIONS of people not burning fossil fuels to cook their food.  That adds up!

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Offline Eddie

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Re: Solar Cookers
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2016, 12:22:42 PM »
After some consideration, I have come to the conclusion that solar cookers are not dependable enough to use as a regular part of food preparation. You are limited by the time of day when solar cooking works and at the mercy of the clouds. I view solar ovens as interesting toys. Rocket stoves are more practical in a SHTF situation.
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Offline RE

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Re: Solar Cookers
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2016, 02:42:47 PM »
After some consideration, I have come to the conclusion that solar cookers are not dependable enough to use as a regular part of food preparation. You are limited by the time of day when solar cooking works and at the mercy of the clouds. I view solar ovens as interesting toys. Rocket stoves are more practical in a SHTF situation.

True, you're limited to sunny days and from around 9 to 3 pm.  However, they are slow cookers anyhow, so if you make a stew with them, you just keep it in a thermally insulated crock until you're ready to eat it.  You can always reheat over a camp stove or open fire if you want it hotter.  However, you save an enormous amount of fuel against the fire you would have had to burn all day to slow cook up a stew.

What percentage of days could you use it on?  Depends on your neighborhood of course.  In sunny California where it never rains, probably just about every day.  In Texas where the floods just keep on coming, maybe not so often.  lol.

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