Solar Cooking
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Last edited: 19 October 2022      
Funpanel1

The Fun-Panel solar panel cooker

Solar panel cooker designs incorporate elements of box and parabolic cookers. They often have a large reflector area and the cook pot has some form of enclosure to retain heat. Panel cookers are capable of cooking up to approximately 140 °C (284 °F). They are the easiest style to build, and relatively inexpensive to buy. Solar Cookers International's "CooKit" is the most widely used panel cooker.

Panel cookers, due to their ease of construction and low-cost materials are the most common. Tens of thousands of these are in use in refugee camps around the world.

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Cooking with Starlight - 01 - Solar Cookers 101 - SLiCK solar cooking - solar cooker-2

Solar cooking basics explained by Dave Oxford of SliCK

Characteristics[]

  • Typically less expensive to build and purchase than other design types
  • Many models are collapsible for easy transport and storage
  • Can be used to bake breads and cakes
  • Usually achieves temperatures of 110 - 140 °C (230 - 284 °F)

CooKit[]

CooKit photo Make

The CooKit

In the year 1999, a very simple, low-cost solar cooker was presented by Prof. Roger Bernard (1995) of France. The original model was modified by Solar Cookers International and named the CooKit. There are simpler panel cookers and some that cook better than the CooKit, but the CooKit folds down to be the size of a large notebook. This makes it one of the most popular solar cookers on the planet. The main CooKit article shows many different variations.

Copenhagen Solar Cooker Light[]

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The Copenhagen Solar Cooker Light

A very simple but efficient Solar Panel Cooker has been designed by Sharon Clausson of USA. Using durable, reflective vinyl covered panels (originally placemats formerly sold by Ikea) she has presented a very simple design. The reflector panels, which can be bent are attached to a firm piece of hard board, on which cooking pot is kept in a transparent plastic bag. Beauty of this cooker is the panels can be folded and held in position with a cloth hanger clips.

Haines 2.0[]

Haines 2

The Haines 2.0 solar panel cooker

Haines Solar Cookers began producing a new Haines 2.0 Solar Cooker, an improved version of the Haines 1 in spring of 2018. The Haines 2.0 solar cooker has been Performance Evaluation Process (PEP) tested by Solar Cookers International, and has proved to be a popular panel cooker. See the PEP results

HotPot[]

Solar-cooker-design- Dars diamond

The HotPot panel cooker

Solar Household Energy has a proven panel cooker with the specially designed HotPot. It uses a glass pot enclosure with a custom black metal cooking pot inside. The reflector is constructed from folding polished metal panels. They won a grant from the World Bank to distribute this type of cooker.

Solar funnel cookers[]

Funnel cooker

The Jones Solar Funnel Cooker

Steven Jones has another interesting variation, which he calls the Funnel Cooker. The Funnel Cooker has several advantages. It is simple to construct and store, and there is little waste of unused construction materials. Supporting the funnel may pose problem, but this can easily be solved with placing the funnel in an open box, as shown in the photo. Two small sticks or stones can also be propped up at the back to hold the funnel in the right position. Funnel Cooker construction plans

These funnel cookers should work well, but some appear to have a limited reflective surface area. Bigger reflectors should work better.

Funpanel1

The Fun-Panel solar cooker

Another interesting design has been created by Teong Tan from Singapore. He realized that a cooker with an aperture at 60 degrees captures most of the sunshine, similar to the Funnel Cooker. But the Funnel cooker is unstable without additional support, and hence Teong designed a new cooker called Fun-Panel. It combines the best features of Funnel cooker as well as CooKit. Preliminary studies indicate that it performs well.

Teong is a devoted solar cooker designer and enthusiast, and some of his other designs include the DATS cooker, Suntastic, and the Sunny Cooker.

Teong has conducted a comparative study on greenhouse enclosures as well, and finds that the HotPot works well.

Windshield shades[]

Windshield shade

A great solar panel cooker can be built from a windshield shade

Kathy Dahl-Bredine developed the Windshield Shade Solar Cooker while experimenting with various designs of cookers to introduce in the indigenous communities where Kathy lives and works in southern Mexico. She hit upon an utterly simple way to make an instant portable solar oven by taking an automobile windshield shade and turning it into a solar funnel.

Double Angle Cookers[]

There seems to be renewed interest in this type of solar cooker that shares some of the properties of panel cookers like the CooKit and of parabolic cookers.

Double-Angled-Twelve-Sided cooker[]

DATS solar cooker

DATS solar cooker

Teong Tan fabricated what he calls the DATS cooker, meaning a Double Angled Twelve-Sided Solar Cooker. The motivation for this design was mainly to avoid the transparent plastic enclosure/guard around the cooking pots that is used to reduce heat loss.

Parvati Solar Cooker[]

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Parvati Solar Cooker

In India, Ravindra Pardeshi and his wife Shobha, developed a similar cooker, the Parvati Solar Cooker, named after the inventor's grandmother. They took inspiration from Professor Mannan’s improvement of a VITA Design. They initially fabricated Professor Jone's Funnel cooker, but then developed the Parvati design. They have conducted a number of experiments and suggest that stacking the vessels one above the other gives better results than placing them side by side.

This is an important detail that all panel cooker users should consider. Rather than making the cooker base wider to place pots side by side, consider making a panel cooker with taller sides to stack pots for more efficient cooking. However, this does make checking the cooking food less convenient. Parvati website...

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Parvati Solar Cooker

They have a ray trace diagram showing the sun's movement as it passes over the cooker, which should be useful for other solar cooker designers to review. Click on the adjacent illustration to activate.

External links[]

All construction plans[]

All designs[]

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