Solar Cooker Research Begins

by James Wampler
(Shelbyville, Ky. USA)


Two weeks until winter break when I can begin my planning in earnest. This week I've been gathering resources to build my own ovens over the break.

My tentative plan is to build copies of the three main types of stoves in order to see if there are cheap/easy ways for students to create examples of their own. I'd like to build a panel cooker, a cardboard solar oven, and I'm even playing around with seeing if students could build a parabolic oven.

There was recently a gentleman on kickstarter who was selling the "Sun Juicer" which is a lightweight parabolic oven. When I was planning this months ago, I supported his campaign as a backup to securing a more professional model (The SolSource.) The sun juicer should arrive this week, and I am interested in the construction of this lightweight, low cost, highly portable burner as a model for student constructed copies.

I have purchased various reflective materials in an effort to gauge cost effectiveness, including reflective vinyl from this site - I'm interested to see what kinds of gains can be made in different reflective surfaces.

From a materials standpoint, I have an IR thermometer, and I'm still trying to find the best thermometer for reliable comparisons between ovens. As with all things in life, you can have cheap things, or you can have effective things...it is rare that you get both. If anyone else has experience with cheap and reliable oven thermometers that are accurate enough to be used for comparisons, I would love to hear about it!

Unfortunately, no pictures for this week! Our weather has been lousy - I plan to post updates with pictures on the construction of my own stoves soon when I have weeks like this. Sometimes winter can be a little more gray than I would like!

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Dec 10, 2014
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Sun Juicer
by: Nathan

I checked out the "Sun Juicer" parabolic.
Nice little solar parabolic cooker!

I can't believe I had not heard anything about it before this.

Usually word of different and new solar cookers makes its way to us quite quickly, but this one slipped by us.

I will be interested in hearing your thoughts and feelings about yours when you receive one.

Dec 10, 2014
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Oven thermometers
by: jim la joie

Two items:
1. Use a mechanical thermometer that is NSF certified. These are very easy to find. Good Cook makes one and it can actually be adjusted by the user in a boiling water test. I have several. The electronic thermometers cannot be calibrated and, in my experience, can be highly variable.
2. You do not want a hot oven. You want cooked food. So the thermometer should be a food type, not an oven type, and should read the temperature of a measured quantity of water. Or cooking oil. (If using oil be sure to stir as there is a strong temperature gradient with oil and the top of the oil will be much hotter than the bottom)
Find a thermometer with a large dial as these are easier to read.
Have fun with your project

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