Solar Cooking
Last edited: 29 April 2022      


Solar Household Energy profiles the Oaxaca 'Women of the Sun' introduction to solar cooking, and how it has affected their lives

Solar Household Energy has long played an active role introducing and helping to facilitate solar cooking in Mexico. They have been working closely with Lorena Harp to bring solar cooking to the rural women of Oaxaca. She introduced an affordable but durable panel-style solar cooker called the Haines Solar Cooker (HSC). Prior to launch of the initiative, Lorena conducted local market research and optimized the HSC for local consumer preferences. She then trained three rural women to become “solar cooking ambassadors” to sell HSCs for 500 pesos (about $25 USD) on a commission basis (earning 200 pesos, about $10 USD) to members of their communities and provide follow-up support to maximize adoption of this alternative cooking model. Ambassadors quickly reached their pilot project goal for solar cooker sales. More information...


Solar Zentrum logo, 8-9-21.jpg
  • NEW: 20-21 May 2022: Solar Zentrum 2022: Cooking and Drying with the Sun - Aquaponics - Coordinated from the Solar Zentrum in Wietow, Germany with assistance from Michael Bonke. The Zoom conference Program Schedule, with the first day in English, the second day in German. This is a free event. Zoom link information to come.
See also: Global Calendar of Events and past events in Mexico

Most significant projects[]

  • The HotPot solar cooker introduction in Mexico - Solar Household Energy (SHE), spent several years developing a solar panel cooker called the HotPot, a variation on Solar Cookers International's cooker, the CooKit. In 2003 SHE received a grant from the World Bank’s Development Marketplace to mount a HotPot promotion project in Mexico working with the Mexican nature conservancy, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (FMCN). By July 2004, 2,000 HotPots had been manufactured and trucked to eight local conservation NGOs that had agreed to participate in the HotPot distribution initiative. Solar Household Energy may be the global leader in promoting solar cooking. The history of the HotPot project. Lesson learned: Quality solar cookers are appreciated. However, demand may not be able to be met without significant financial support.

Workshop participants receive their HotPot solar cooker in Mexico.


Poli & Rodrigo, founders of Delicias de Oaxaca Photo credit: Low-tech Lab

  • January 2022: Solar food drying company in Oaxaca - Delicias de Oaxaca is a solar food processing company located in Oaxaca, Mexico. Founders, Poli & Rodrigo, specialize in dehydrating various fruits and vegetables for sale. They collect unsold fruits and vegetables from many farmers in the region. They peel them, cut them into thin slices and expose them to the sun and wind on the roof of their house. The simplest drying room there is: shelves protected from insects by a mosquito net.

Gregor Schäpers, of Triniy Sol, runs a solar bakery in Cardonal, Mexico

  • NEW: October 2021: Mexican entrepreneurs are changing the future for solar cooking business in Mexico - Gregor Schäpers, of Triniy Sol, is one of a number of entrepreneurs convinced that solar cooking and distilling, as used by business, can help Mexico — and other parts of the world — leave the fossil fuel era behind. “Solar is very versatile, clean and reduces the need for firewood, thus protects forests. It is climate-friendly, saves money and strengthens small and medium-sized businesses in the region,” he concludes. Cooking with the sun: Entrepreneurs help launch Mexico’s solar revolution - Mongabay

Victoria Aguilera, founder of La Sazón del Sol, sells solar processed foods at the local market.

  • June 2021: Solar processed foods available near Oaxaca - La Sazón del Sol is located in the village of Tlacochahuaya, Mexico near Oaxaca. Victoria Aguilera, the founder, is interested in encouraging the use of solar energy to be part of daily life for local residents. She supports the area ecology, economy, health of the community, and also produces many of the solar dried foods herself. The facility operates a training center dedicated to women, and provides workshops at the Oficina Solar Tlacochahuaya in do-it-yourself construction of solar cooking and drying appliances. With a primary focus on solar food drying, they prepare a variety of foods for sale.

Rural customers from Oaxaca, Mexico, have adopted the Haines Solar Cooker. Photo credit: Lorena Harp

  • January 2020: Scaling up Lorena Harp's Haines Solar Cooker Enterprise in Mexico - Solar Household Energy is currently supporting Mexican solar cooking expert Lorena Harp in her dream to bring solar cooking to the rural women of Oaxaca State through a sustainable social enterprise. Prior to launch of the initiative, Lorena conducted local market research and optimized the HSC for local consumer preferences. She then trained three rural women to become “solar cooking ambassadors” to sell HSCs for 500 pesos (about $25 USD) on a commission basis (earning 200 pesos, about $10 USD) to members of their communities and provide follow-up support to maximize adoption of this alternative cooking model. More information...

Ovens being demonstrated in Teotitlán del Valle

  • March 2019: During the second day of construction conducted by students of the Mount Sentinel school of Canada in collaboration with Techamos Una Mano and Gie Oaxaca, families of Teotitlán del Valle were trained and received a donation of Haines Solar Ovens.

Bernardo López Sosa, Photo credit: Conacyt

  • September 2017: Solar Household Energy has partnered with Lorena Harp to provide solar cookers to earthquake victims in Mexico, as well as launch a new solar cooker social enterprise in the country. The partnership will work to "carry out market research, optimize the Haines Solar Cooker and its pot for adoption by rural women, train solar cooking ambassadors, and help establish Lorena Harp's business, with the end goal of becoming financially sustainable." More information...

Instituto de Energías Renovables prototype solar box cooker - Photo credit: Instituto de Energías Renovables

Juana Jarquín (right) during the March 2017 workshop

  • April 2016: Kathy Dahl-Bredine reports: "We were finally able to do that solar workshop we had planned for last November [near Oaxaca]. It was a phenomenal success. We had demonstrations of six different models of cookers. We're going to meet again to build cookers, which will include different ones of those models. Everyone wants them and wants to invite more people." Read more in the March-April 2016 newsletter.
See older news...


Mexico has a rich solar cooking history, with several projects successfully implemnted since the early 2000's. Below is a summary of some of these programs.

Girl Scouts/Rotary

Girl Scout leader Barby Pulliam conducted training programs for Girl Scout leaders and other representatives of NGOs in a number of cities and towns. Rotarian Wilfred Pimentel has also conducted a number of pilot programs in various cities. In some of those places, Rotary and Girl Scouts joined forces. A number of missions and other religious groups have promoted solar cookers in various parts of the country. One example is the Mission Mazahua, in Atlacomulco, which produced around 600 cookers. Several university faculty members have conducted research on cooking devices as well.

Solar Household Energy: Sierra Gorda Nature Reserve project

A large project originated in an unusual venue, a nature conservancy area, the Sierra Gorda Nature Reserve. In the spring of 2003, Louise Meyer of Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE, Inc.) conducted a training program to test user acceptance of a then new solar cooker called the HotPot. The device uses a modified CooKit design, initially of a plastic material then mental, as opposed to the cardboard of the CooKit. A black pot is enclosed within a tempered glass "greenhouse" instead of the plastic bag used in the original CooKit.

Within the confines of nature conservancies in Mexico, as elsewhere, trees cannot be cut down for use as fuelwood. Households living within the area thus must find other sources of energy for cooking. Therefore, the managing group of the Sierra Gorda site, the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, was delighted to explore the potential of solar cooking. The town of Purisima and a village, Mavi, were selected as the site for the initial training program. The Director of the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, Lorenzo Rosenzweig, partnered with SHE, Inc. to plan and implement this project.

Ms. Meyer traveled to Mexico, and conducted training for Sierra Gorda women, who were given HotPots and trained in their use over a two-day period. After the training, Ms. Meyer visited the women in their homes as follow-up for days of further training and coaching. The women were all interested in what others were cooking, and eventually a throng of cooks accompanied Ms. Meyer on most visits, enhancing the group learning substantially. Two women from the group were chosen for additional training in "how to teach others". The new trainers were again visited and coached in the art of training.

This pilot project, growing into a large-scale follow-up in other areas of Mexico, was among the winners of the 2003 Development Marketplace competition, an annual event held by the World Bank.

Sun Ovens International: Institutional solar cooking

Sun Ovens International reports promoting both Sun Ovens and Scheffler-type parabolics in Cuernavaca and Mexico City. The parabolic portion of this work, conducted by the Grupo Scheffler de México installs large commercial and institutional cooking and water heating. The first institutional solar kitchen of Mexico (6 Schefflers reflectors of 10m2) was built in the Hidalgo State by Gregor Schäpers.

Archived articles

Climate and culture[]

Insolation in Mexico

Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country with over 100 million inhabitants. One-quarter of the population lives in Mexico City, the world’s largest city. Rapid population growth and industrialization in Mexico over the last few decades have put an enormous strain on the environment, economy and on individual health.

Less than 10% of Mexico’s native tropical rainforests remain today. These rainforests are limited to southeastern Mexico and are most threatened by subsistence activities—especially fuel wood collection. Fuel wood supplies 69% of the energy consumption in rural areas, particularly for cooking. As the supply of wood decreases it negatively impacts the lives of the people who depend on it.

For instance, women and girls are responsible for procuring fuel wood and they must travel farther from home as wood becomes more scarce. This task demands many hours and minimizes opportunities to attend school and participate in income-generating activities. In other areas, it is no longer feasible to gather wood. Families in these areas can spend 15% to 37% of their income on wood and/or gas.

In addition to the negative environmental and economic impact of fuel wood dependence, women and children suffer from health problems caused by cooking inside small, enclosed kitchens that often lack windows or other ventilation. They inhale toxic smoke for many hours each day, which can lead to pneumonia and respiratory infections, the biggest killers of children under five years of age.

Below are comments made by Kathy Dahl-Bredine on November 17, 2015 regarding the extent to which Mixtec families near Oaxaca, Mexico, who apparently have an ample supply of firewood to collect, continue to use their solar cookers:

After having done many solar workshops, I've always wanted to know the extent to which families are really continuing to use it. And after checking around a good deal, it seems to me that the technology is not really taking hold enough to change overall cooking habits. The participants are always very excited about the technique during the workshops, and I give them "homework" tasks afterward, which include teaching others to solar cook, et al. But in general they do not seem to be continuing it long term, and I've tried to analyze the reasons:

  1. Most of the solar cookers we use, including models being commercially made and sold, as well as designs we make on our own, are too small for an average family in indigenous or traditional communities. Generally extended families live and eat together, an average of 6-10 persons. The standard black enamel pots that we generally use hold enough for only a small family. The main exception to that is the "family size" version of the Ulog. We have made those, but they tend to be very heavy and a little unwieldy, so that's a drawback we haven't solved yet.
  2. In our own village and many of the others in our mountain area, there is plenty of firewood, so there isn't the urgency for fuel that exists in many places. I've often thought that some of those places in Africa, where apparently the Cook-it has really caught on well, one of the main differences may be the lack of adequate fuel, where people have to either walk long distances in unsafe areas, or spend part of their scarce food money to buy wood or other fuel.
  3. Also, something that is no doubt hard to fathom for all of us who were brought up on gas stove cooking, for people in this culture, there is something about the smell of wood smoke and a fire going that feels homey, familiar, and good to folks -- the warm and familiar sense of family, etc. Sometimes people even say that the food tastes better when cooked over a wood fire. (Although many folks also have said that solar cooked food has more flavor! I've heard that a number of times as a reason for not liking gas stoves. A few people around here even have small gas stoves, but they generally don't use them much - perhaps only when there's an emergency to get a fire quickly.

Besides the various types of simple solar cookers that I make with groups: Cookit, Windshield Shade Solar Cooker model, and others, my husband, Phil, and the teenagers he has trained in carpentry, make the Ulog box cookers. We're searching for a way to make a good reflector for that model, also a better version of the larger, family--size one. I keep thinking we need to find a way to make something as efficient as the Sun Oven. My son gave me one, and I use it nearly all the time. None of the ones we've ever made can measure up to that efficiency. And here in these mountains, known as "país de las nubes" (land of clouds), it is often at least partially cloudy, so a very efficient cooker would encourage folks to use it more. We need to find a way to make good extra reflectors. As models to use with the local people, we are committed to using only cookers that we can make locally, so as to be sustainable.

See also


Possible funders[]

Facebook groups[]

Project evaluations[]

Main article: Project evaluations



Articles in the media[]

Lorena Harp demonstrates solar cooker to project participant in September 2019

Audio and video[]

  • NEW: February 2022:

4-2 Constructal evolution of the solar oven Tolokatsin 2021 - CONSOLFOOD 2022-2

  • NEW: February 2022:

4-1 Solar thermal drying plant for agricultural products - CONSOLFOOD 2022-2

  • NEW: February 2022:

3-2 Pineapple dehydration in the Thermosolar Plant for agricultural products… - CONSOLFOOD 2022-2

  • NEW: May 2021


Solar Household Energy profiles the Oaxaca 'Women of the Sun' introduction to solar cooking, and how it has affected their lives

  • October 2019:
  • May 2013:

Taquería de Oaxaca funciona con energía solar en vez de gas

Desde hace tres años funciona en Oaxaca una taquería que en vez de gas utiliza la energía solar. Los rayos de luz son captados a través de un panel móvil de aluminio que los convierte en energía y permite cocinar elementos mediante una estufa solar.

  • June 2012:
  • February 2010:

Taquería oaxaqueña trabaja con energía solar

Alfredo García instaló un reflector cilindro parabólico en su puesto ambulante para calentar el consomé y los tacos que venden en las calles de Oaxaca. Además del ahorro que representa el no utilizar gas, otro de los beneficios de este sistema es que la comida resulta menos grasosa.

  • February 2009:


External links[]


The entities listed below are either based in Mexico, or have established solar cooking projects there:

SCI Associates[]


Manufacturers and vendors[]


Government agencies[]

Educational institutions[]

See also[]