Solar Cooker Plans, Video & Bev’s Solar Cooker

 By Bev,

Solar cooking IS a PROVEN technology. That said, you have to have SUNSHINE. In Minnesota the sun does not always shine, and it gets cold. At this post, we are again below zero at night… Will winter ever end???

Grid down and no money – what would I miss the most? My slow cooker! One pot meal, walk away and do what you need to do, come back to a meal ready to eat – I like it! I have already proven to myself, in the winter, that a solar cooker will work having played with the windshield reflector cooker posted a while back. But I have hungry dogs and cats and I’m on the edge of the prairie so wind is a factor. And I can’t afford to buy a solar cooker. So below you will find a nice little video that proves you can solar cook in Minnesota – Thank You Wyzyrd! AND lots of links to some of my research.

And below that, you will see my solar cooker in progress…

Because the sun does not always shine, I am also creating a thermal cooker to be used with my Deadwood Rocket Stoves now that I know I can also use them inside the house. Off-grid slow cooking sun or not!

Lots of solar cooking plans and a soda bottle water pastuerizer:

http://solarcooking.org/plans/

http://solarcooking.org/soda-bottle-pasteurizer.htm

http://www.solarcooker-at-cantinawest.com/buildingasolarcooker.html

http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Minimum_Solar_Box_Cooker

http://www.instructables.com/id/Best-Solar-Oven/?ALLSTEPS

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Simple-Cardboard-Solar-Oven/?ALLSTEPS

Wyzyrd: “Turns out that Krylon makes a colors of high-temperature spray enamel for painting grills/car engines etc – good up to 800 degrees.  It’s at Lowes and Home Depot for about $3 a can and comes in flat black.  That could paint the outside of a lot of pans and turn ’em into super  heat-absorbers :)”

Bev’s $0 Slow Cooker

2 boxes

I scrounged up 2 plastic boxes in the basement. The bigger one is from some kind inground fountain that someone gave me and the other one is some kind of bin. Yes, the outside box could have been cardboard, but with snow and rain in Minnesota, and the potential for dogs getting into my meal, and given that I had one on hand, it just seemed like the thing to do.

insulation

I put a sheet of clear plastic in the bigger box and put a garbage bag around the smaller box. Then I put the smaller box into the bigger box and stuffed insulation all around it. Pulled the smaller box out and taped it thoroughly. YES, I know that this insulation is frowned upon because of fumes. However it is thoroughly taped and as you will see will have a Mylar coating on it so that it should never even get warm. In Minnesota, I believe in insulation.

 lined box with finished edges

Mylar on top of the insulation to reflect the sun’s rays and Mylar on the sides of the inside box – not sure about that yet, but I have another box with no Mylar that I’m going to test.

frame on box

I swear this solar cooker was meant to be because I had a picture frame with glass that fits it perfectly!

cardboard top and sides

At this point I still wasn’t sure this was going to work, so I just cut my sides and top out of cardboard and siliconed on the Mylar. Then I duct taped the flaps onto the box for a trial run.

oven bag and granite ware

A dark colored pot is preferred with solar cooking. The reuseable oven bag is to add more heat and capture the heat from the pot.

cooker in snow bank

This is the first test run. Got to 150 degrees in that snow bank!

Which proved to me it would work.

almost done

So I cut up some quarter inch plywood I had laying around and re-siliconed (because that is what I had on hand) the mylar onto the wood.  I drilled holes in the wood and corresponding ones in the plastic and used cable ties to hinge the flaps. I put screws in the two outside flaps to lean the back one on to get the solar rays at a better angle and used garden twisties to hold them together. Then I siliconed the glass to the picture frame and ran some foam strip sticky seal that I had around the frame to ‘tighten” it a bit more. So far so good.

screw

I put a screw in the frame so that I could tell where the full sun was. Last test I got it to 225 degrees – not bad. Sat it on the garbage can, not in the snow and it was about 15 degrees above zero.

But I need to refine this yet more.

I’m thinking another panel on the front. And a way to tilt it up. The cable ties snapped at just 5 degrees above zero so I replaced them with electric fencing wire. And I am looking for a glass container to put the cooking pot in because the glass will amplify the solar heating.

bottom adjustments

To make a riser for tilt, I cut three strips of wood and siliconed them onto the bottom of the box.

box riser

Then I took a scrap of 2×4 and a board, screwed them together to make a riser.

3 screws

Well, then I had to add more screws to the side flaps  for more adjustments on the top flap.

more finished

I added a bottom flap that I made adjustable just by drilling a hole on either side of that and a hole in each of the side flaps and lacing garden plant ties through it.

Oops! Got so hot it warped and melted holes in the inside plastic box! So then I took some aluminum flashing scrap I had around and made an aluminum box for it, painted it black – I need to keep my eye out now for an old metal box, maybe a bread box or something for the inside.

So, with materials I just had laying around the house I created this solar cooker that is pretty much weather resistant, dog and cat resistant, not nice enough where anyone would want to walk off with it, and it all folds into itself so it is easily stored.

Why should I bother doing this now? My experience has been that even though someone on YouTube or in an article can do this or that, doesn’t mean I can. And there is always a learning curve! It didn’t cost me anything and I have the time right now to build it and learn how to use it.

If the grid should go down tomorrow for a month or a year, how will you cook?

In reality, not in theory…

Do you have what you need and know how to use it?

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