Last edited: 28 September 2021
Photovoltaic cooking designs offer another approach to harvesting the sun to cook food. Instead of solely relying on the sun's direct radiation to cook, these systems use photovoltaic cells to provide power to an electric induction cooktop, resistance heating elements, typically with power stored in batteries.
Research has also been undertaken to test the cooking potential of a simplified system incorporating an array of diodes connected directly to photovoltaic panels.
Although the induction heating elements use relatively little electricity, their efficiency is greatly increased when combined with a well insulated solar thermal cooker, more so than any resistance based electrical heating sources.
Evacuated tube solar cooker designs provide a platform well suited to this hybrid approach. With the availability of an chargeable battery or phase-change thermal storage, this type of cooker makes cooking after sunset or in the early morning possible.
- April 2021: Using nichrome wire as an assist to solar cooking, and as stand-alone cooker with (PV charged) batteries - Craig Bergland, a solar inventor living in Nevada, USA, has been experimenting heating nichrome wire to assist in raising the cooking temperature within solar box ovens, seeing raises of 27 - 38 °C (81 - 100 °F). He has managed to do this with relatively low cost components. Read about his results here on his personal page.
- February 2021: Cooking directly from PV panel to heating element: - Bernhard Müller has shared his recent experiences. He initially used a 50w heating pad connected directly to a 50W PV panel, but discovered using a 40w pad was more efficient. He was able to have the heating pad reach 120 °C (248 °F). He recommends this approach can be used for most cooking, except for baking and frying. It is important to use a well-insulated cooking chamber and limit the length of the connecting cables, as cable resistance will limit output.
- February 2021: Jane and Seggy Segaran have been experimenting cooking with a 60 watt heating element powered by photovoltaic panels. They first charge a battery with the panels. This makes it possible to provide a more concentrated amount of power to the heating element than can be achieved directly from the PV panels. The food is cooked within a highly insulated assembly. They have found "A 100 W solar panel can provide a peak power of 70 to 80 Watts. If it is in a fixed orientation (and does not track the sun) then my estimate was 50 watts average power over a 6 hour period. 50 watts means a current of around 4 Amps going into a 12 V battery. So to fully charge a 75 Ah battery is going to take around 20 hours – or just over 3 days. So 3 days of charging will provide 10 hours of cooking." Read more...
- March 2020: Research begins using thermal diode arrays for cooking - Cooking powered by photovoltaic panels appears to be developing rapidly. Early research involved cooking directly with induction heating elements. However the direct thermal output was low temperature, and researchers concluded induction systems worked more efficiently when included with battery storage, or a phase-change medium. The phase-change medium would be heated throughout the day, and be able to give back the heat at a higher rate to the induction element for cooking later in the day (See August 2019 news item). Recent development with incorporating thermal diodes arrays shows the possibility of using a simpler and less expensive system to generate heat for cooking. They do not require 12v charge controllers, voltage converter, batteries, and inverters of traditional PV systems, but they do not intrinsically have energy storage capabilities. They require a thermostatic switch to interrupt the circuit above a predetermined temperature. This research is in its infancy, and more detailed information can be found in: Hot diodes!: Dirt cheap cooking and electricity for the global poor? - Volume 4, 2019, 100044 ScienceDirect (See also the May 2020 video below produced by Pete Schwartz and his team cooking with this method in Ghana.)
- November 2019: Electric cooking starts to simmer in rural India - Following the success of the Saubhagya initiative and its announcement of 100 per cent rural household electrification, efficiency gains and cost reductions in solar panels and batteries are opening up a new market that has the potential to avoid using any solid or fossil fuel, with solar-powered electric cooking or e-cooking using pressure and rice cookers and induction stoves gaining traction. The winner of the 2017 challenge, IIT Bombay, has since conducted a project to convert the entire village of Bancha in Madhya Pradesh, India to solar panels and induction cookstoves instead of wood-burning or LPG stoves. With Rs 8.5 million provided by ONGC, all the 75 houses in Bancha now rely on solar-powered electric stoves to meet their cooking needs. Besides reducing air pollution, villagers no longer have to collect firewood from nearby forests, saving time and effort. More information...
- August 2019: Cooking with PV and phase change materials in place of a battery - Pete Schwartz explains how his research group at Cal Poly, USA is using a relatively low power photovoltaic panel to produce electricity to run an induction heating element, which runs through a phase changing heat storage medium. The medium melts at 120 °C (248 °F) during exposure throughout the day. In the evening the medium is hot enough to cook a meal fairly quickly without the sun, stored battery power, or further input from the induction heating element.
- January 2019: The 2019 GoSun Fusion revealed at CES 2019 - c|net
- December 2018: IIT-B fest launches solar chai on day 1 - The Asian Age
- June 2018: PV supplements solar cooking - Seggy T Segaran has experimented with adding more cooking power to a solar box cooker, provided by a heating pad located inside the cooker. It is powered by the nearby 100w photovoltaic panel. He reports the heating pad on its own put around 35 watts of power into the solar cooker. When placed in the sun, the cooker ran at around 70 watts of combined solar and electric power. See also: Dr. Alan Bigelow, SCI Science Director, discusses his experiences with hybrid solar and electric induction cooking from 14:45-20:30 of this video
- March 2016: Antonia Lecouna Neumann reports: "We use erythritol as heat storage material, cheap, durable, edible and has a melting heat similar to ice. We found it superior to other alternatives although long term durability is still an issue." Read more...
- 2019: Hot diodes!: Dirt cheap cooking and electricity for the global poor? - Volume 4, 2019, 100044 ScienceDirect
- 2019: Insulated Solar Electric Cooker (ISEC) Immersion Heater - Mechanical Engineering Department Cal. Poly State University
- July 2019: Powering Jobs Census 2019: The Energy Access Workforce - Power for All
- June 2019: Beyond Fire: How to achieve electric cooking - Hivos & World Future Council
- January 2018: DryEcoMate – An Horticultural Dehydrator, Using Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Energy, Low Cost Production, Modular and Portable (Slides, Paper) - J. Garcia, et al
- January 2018: Photovoltaic Solar Cooking with Thermal Energy Storage (TES) (Slides, Paper) - Antonio Lecuona-Neumann, et al
- January 2017: Insulated Solar Electric Cooking – Tomorrow's healthy aﬀordable stoves?
- November 2017: Compact photovoltaic 12v induction cooker prototype - Puttaraj & Ashok Kundapur
- March 2017: Solar Powered Induction Cooking System - Sibiya & Venugopal
- January 2017: All Time Operating Solar Cookers for Indoor and Outdoor Cooking - Smita B. Joshi and A. R. Jani
- January 2015: Preliminary design and analysis of a proposed solar and battery electric cooking concept: costs and pricing - Leach, M., Oduro, R.
Articles in the media
- NEW: September 2021: CSIR-CMERI’s Solar DC Cooking System, a step towards green & pollution free India - NewsOnAir
- August 2021: Residents of This Village in India Do Not Need Wood or LPG to Cook, How Solar Power Changed Lives - News 18
- February 2021: Cooking with stored energy: how to build an off-grid solar slow cooker - low impact.org
- July 2020: Kroger in new solar deployment - CSA
- June 2020: Clean Cooking: 33 Solutions For One Renewable Energy Problem - CleanTechnica
- February 2020: Single Portable Induction Cooktop: What They Won’t Tell You About an Induction Burner The Equipped Cook
- November 2019: Can electricity be an option for clean cooking in developing countries? - Orfonline
- October 2019: Electric cooking starts to simmer in rural India - Energyworld.com
- October 2019: SECI tenders 500 quantities of solar cooking systems - PV Magazine India
- June 2019: Kenya launches US $461m off grid solar solutions - Construction Review Online
- June 2019: Bancha, the first solar kitchen only village in India - Business Standard
- April 2019: Bridging the last mile: Accelerating access to cooking energy in India - Opinion by Amit Kumar | ET EnergyWorld - Energyworld
- December 2018: IIT-B fest launches solar chai on day 1 - The Asian Age
- August 2018: After Saubhagya, govt plans induction stoves for the poor - Live Mint
- July 2018: Dawn of Solar PV Cooking - Akshay Urja, Issue 6
- July 2018: Centre plans to introduce solar cooking facilities for every rural household in next 4-5 years, says Piyush Goyal - Mumbai Mirror
- May 2018: Photovoltaic cooking makes sense - IDTechEx
- April 2018: IIT-B sends cooking for a SIX - The Asian Age
- April 2018: IIMK LIVE hosts Live Demo of Solar Cooking Innovation - India EducationDiary.com
- November 2017: Green Energy Research Centre, IUB update - The Daily Star (Combined with photovoltaic farming innovations, GERC mentions developing their photovoltaic powered cooker to meet the needs of a family for regular cooking purposes.)
- November 2015: Benin tackles climate change with sunshine and coconuts - Pakistan Ki Awaz
- December 2016: Energiebilanz von Solarzellen - Energie Weblog (English version)
Audio and video
- June 2021:
- February 2021:
- January 2021:
- October 2020:
- May 2020:
- June 2019:
- January 2019:
- December 2018:
- October 2018:
- August 2018: 239 SunPod-Interview: Seggy Segaran – solar/electric hybrid cooker (First minute in German, interview in English)
- June 2018:
- April 2018:
- August 2021: Alheltechnology offers cooking appliances developed for photovoltaic based systems
- Discussion forum: Insulated Solar Electric Cooker (This forum is for discussions related to the production, use, and general technology of the Insulated Solar Electric Cooker (ISEC).)
- October 2020: Photovoltaic solar cooking research collaboration website - Cal Poly Solar Cooking
All construction plans
- See below:
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