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Last edited: 7 April 2021      

GoSun Fusion Solar Kitchen, Photo credit: The Spoon

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.

News[edit | edit source]

Nichrome wire heating element placed between two bricks, Photo credit: Craig Bergland

  • NEW: 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.

Seggy Segaran heat retention cooker powered with a battery charged by PV panels. Photo credit: Seggy Segaran

  • 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...

Comparative simplicity of a diode vs an induction cooking system, ScienceDirect.com. Vol 4, 2019

  • 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.)

Fuel cost comparison, 11-4-19 .jpg

  • 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.

GoSun Fusion Solar Kitchen, Photo credit: The Spoon

A 100w photovoltaic panels provides additional cooking power with a heating pad located inside of the adjacent solar box cooker. Photo credit: Seggy T Segaran

Using a modified commercial electric cooker with erythritol as a storage medium

  • 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...

Documents[edit | edit source]

Articles in the media[edit | edit source]

  • 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.)

Audio and video[edit | edit source]

  • February 2021:
Alternative_ISEC_Manual_Walkthrough

Alternative ISEC Manual Walkthrough

Presentation by Alexis Ziegler of the Living Energy Farm (http://livingenergyfarm.org/) about their alternative construction manual for Insulated Solar Electric Cookers

  • January 2021:
Insulated_Solar_Electric_Cooker-_Progress_for_ETHOS_2021,_Pete_Schwartz,_Cal_Poly_Physics

Insulated Solar Electric Cooker- Progress for ETHOS 2021, Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly Physics

  • October 2020:
International_Physics_Webinar_54

International Physics Webinar 54

Pete Schwartz gives a half hour webinar about ISEC (Insulated Solar Electric Cooking), and the plan to disseminate the open-source technology via a global learning community. -Cal Poly Solar Cooking (skip first six minute bio. of Pete if desired)

  • May 2020: 
Solar_Electric_Cooking_in_Ghana_With_Phase_Change_Thermal_Storage,_Pete_Schwartz,_Cal_Poly_Physics-0

Solar Electric Cooking in Ghana With Phase Change Thermal Storage, Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly Physics-0

August, 2019, Pete Schwartz and his team spent 3 weeks in Ghana. They made Solar Electric Cookers with Phase Change Thermal Storage with our newly made friends and colleagues, introducing this cooking method in a small village without electricity. Erythritol, with a melting point of 120 °C (248 °F), was used as the heat storage medium. - Cal Poly Solar Cooking

  • June 2019: 
Bancha_The_First_Solar_Kitchen_Only_Village_in_India

Bancha The First Solar Kitchen Only Village in India

  • January 2019: 
  • December 2018: 
Partner_Webinar_The_Clean,_Sustainable_Cooking_Solution_Solar_Thermal-0

Partner Webinar The Clean, Sustainable Cooking Solution Solar Thermal-0

Dr. Alan Bigelow, SCI Science Director, discusses his experiences with hybrid solar and electric induction cooking from 14:45-20:30 of this video

  • October 2018: 

Seggy Segaran solar cooker-PV hybrid Photo credit: Michael Bonke


  • June 2018: 
SolaCooka

SolaCooka

The SolaCooka stores energy in the ground in a phase change material. The concept has been tested with success, and now there is an effort to get it to mass production in India and similar countries where self-install kits are to be distributed, some for a price and some for free. Quotes have been obtained for 80W PV solar panels, which can be built for USD 10, making this practical and affordable. There is a plan to employ people living in the slums to put together the kits for people to install.

  • April 2018: 
IIT_Bombay_students_invent_solar_stove

IIT Bombay students invent solar stove

Students of IIT Bombay have invented solar stove. Watch to know more.

Schwartz_Photovoltaic_Solar_Cooking-0

Schwartz Photovoltaic Solar Cooking-0

Electric cooking is convenient and widely adopted globally, while photovoltaic cells are ideal for small-scale electricity generation in many areas. Assuming the continuing decrease in photovoltaic prices, when might we expect PV solar cooking systems to be cost competitive?

External links[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit source]

All construction plans[edit source]

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