by Stephen Coleman
I built a solar oven with scrap plyboard and 20" X 20" tempered glass window. It is slanted at 50 degrees and the glass top also is the lid. Total cost was $20.
I used mirror polished stainless steel as a single reflector on the back. The interior is stainless steel spray painted black.
On the bottom is a "Lazy Susan" set of bearings which makes it very easy to focus.
The solar oven's temperatures range from 225 degrees to 275 degrees Farenheit. A roast takes about 4 hours to bake into an unparalleled delight.
We also bought a parabolic solar cooker from Cantinawest.
Since April 2010, solar has been my sole means of cooking. I have cooked everything from pork roasts, whole chicken to vegetables and bread.
After cooking solar solely for 6 months I have come to some experience and conclusions.
The solar oven is superior to a parabolic overall. It cooks slow, but one learns to plan dinner at lunch time. Pork roasts can be cut with a fork, absolutely tender with unforgettable savor. Chicken falls of the bones and is delicious beyond explanation.
The parabolic has its uses and advantages in that it cooks quickly just as a range top. However the temperature is hotter than a gas range. The heat cracked our favorite cast iron pot, rendering it useless.
The parabolic can only be used on a totally clear sky, any thin high clouds will make it useless. Whereas the solar oven can still cook a meal.
The parabolic also needs focusing every 10 to 15 minutes. Once I forgot to refocus it and it burned off the handle of the cooking pot.
If you forget to focus the solar oven for an hour or more it will still cook a delicious meal.
I now view the home oven range as inferior to solar baking. Home oven food just is not as good.
Solar ovens should not be considered an "alternative" or survivalist's gear. I believe it should be considered a gourmet instrument of the highest quality.
Thank you for your contribution.
Thank you for your observations, thoughts and solar cooking wisdom.
You have discovered a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of each type of solar cooker and you are "spot on" with your commentary. It seems you have had much of the same experiences and results that many of us solar cooks do.
If you might, I would like to see a photo of your homemade solar oven. We would love to share it with others.
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