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What is a Solar Oven -

A solar oven is a device which uses the energy of the suns rays to cook, heat or pasteurize food and drink. Solar ovens are a clean, non polluting, energy efficient means of heating or cooking. Unlike solar stoves which concentrate the direct rays of the sun to heat and cook food, solar ovens isolate the air inside the cooker from the air outside of it and trap heat inside the solar oven that eventually builds up as the suns rays enter the oven directly and by reflecting off of reflector attached to the oven. The heat is trapped by using dark heat absorbing surfaces on the inside of the oven and a glass cover which prevents infrared thermal radiation from escaping (the greenhouse effect) amplifying the trapped heat.


Solar Oven Plan Layout

The basic plan and layout of a simple solar oven

A functional home made simple solar oven

 A functional model of a simple solar oven built by the author out of mount board. The glass plate is not present in this photo.


Building a Solar Oven -

  1. The outer walls of a solar oven can be made out of any material that is a poor conductor of heat such as cardboard, mount board, or wood. The oven pictured below is a functional solar oven made out of mount board (a thick heavy type of cardboard) but is not meant to be used often. Solar ovens that are intended for regular use should be made out of wood as they are more durable especially since the walls can be made thicker and better at trapping heat as well as more resistant to liquid spills inside the oven than materials such as cardboard.

  2. All the inner walls of the box (except for the inner part of the lid) should be painted black to absorb heat effectively. The inner part of the lid should have a reflector attached to it so that it can reflect the rays of the sun into the box when propped at an angle (when the oven is in use).

  3. When cooking food in the oven, the food should be kept in a metallic vessel, preferably one that is black in color. The opening of the box is covered with a tightly fitting glass plate that helps seal off the air within the oven from the air outside it. The reflector on the lid is also propped up at an acute angle to reflect more of the suns rays into the oven through the glass plate.

  4. The device is left in the sun, heating is completely dependent on the clarity of the sky, time of day and latitude at which the device is used. Cooking is best done in the afternoon on clear sunny days and at latitudes between the equator and 40° though with the creation of more efficient types of solar heating devices it also possible to cook with them at much higher latitudes and in winter.

  5. There are many variations to the basic design of the solar oven that can be used to improve it’s properties such as the addition of multiple reflectors around the top of the oven. Or the use of a smaller box within the first so as to leave a space between the inner and outer walls that can be filled with materials such as fiber glass would serve as additional protection against heat loss through conduction.


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