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Old 02-11-2007, 02:39 AM   #1
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Default Solar Cooker

Any knowledge or experience with Solar Cookers?

Giving thought to the latitudes where many cruisers spend significant time, reducing operating costs, and energy management on board, the concept seems applicable.

Does anybody practice it? Harnessing the sun to cook with?

A few years ago, living in Arizona and later Nevada, and feeling the intense "problem" heat, I thought, "Why not put it to use?" That was motivation to start studying the topic. I ended up back in North Dakota, (Northern Latitudes) before I finished my research.

I did save a lot of information, which I will revisit. I recall that some could be built for almost free, just a cardboard box and aluminum foil.

Now I am looking at the topic from a new perspective, durable, seaworthy, and yacht adaptable. I have the skills, the tools, and the time to tinker, before casting off. Denver Colorado gets enough sun to test anything I assemble. .....my neighbors might start to wonder if I am the mad scientist, as I assemble solar panels, an antennae farm begins to grow, and these shinny metal plates and contraptions pop up...


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Old 02-11-2007, 06:19 AM   #2
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My only experience with them is from friends who foolishly got angry with the American Samoa gas people and refused to fill their gas bottle there and wound up running out of propane 4 days from any chance of a refill. they had a solar cooker on board and were forced to use it and coconut shells for beach fires to cook their food. I don't think they were very successful at it. However, that's not a good test considering all the other mistakes they made (I wasn't there when they tried to use the solar cooker so can't say if they used it correctly, or what the problem was).

I would be most interested in how it works. I wonder if you could use old Dollar Store reading glass lenses to magnify and concentrate the sun's rays onto a heating plate.

Bringing the cooker up to temp might be a slow process and perhaps a bit of a problem in keeping it a steady temperature. Boiling water and using that to cook most foods might be another option. alter the salinity of the water bath and you alter the temperature that the water rises to.

It intrigues me. Must think more about it.

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

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Old 02-11-2007, 11:07 AM   #3
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If you google "solar oven" you'll get dozens of hits from buying a ready to use one to building your own. I'll looked at it a while ago, looks simple enough, I suppose sourcing out quality material is the key. I haven't got around trying yet but will
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Old 02-20-2007, 07:07 PM   #4
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As I'm based in the UK, I guess solar cooking isn't my best option, although an intrigueing idea. Save money and the planet! Some years ago I spotted a Primus Seivert paraffin/kerosene twin ring cooker with cradle at a Sunday boat jumble. Just occasionally I'd smelt a wiff of (heavier than air) butane from my berth, in the morning, so I ripped out my old stove and fitted the Primus/Seivert. OK....I've got to carry both Paraffin and Methylated but after just 1 or 2 pump primings it lights easily and the paraffin seems to last for ages, plus its much cheaper than butane.

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Old 06-13-2007, 06:52 AM   #5
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In the mid-1980's hubby and I did some extensive backroad driving and beach camping in Mexico. Weeks at a time. With us, we had two backpacking stoves --a MSR (white gas) stove and a Trangia (alcohol) stove. We didn't want to waste our fuel and have to find sources for more. We quickly learned to do two "unique" things to make our traveling home (a small car) simultaneously do the work of the galley and the laundry:

1. While we were "breaking down camp" and putting away the tent in the morning, we would quick-cook dried beans or lentils (along with seasoning) in a large pot just till they boiled for 5 minutes. Then, we'd cover the pot with foil (for some reason we didn't have a lid for that pot) and stick it on the back window shelf of the car. We'd drive all day (or just leave the pot in the the car window while we'd go canoing through the surf to find snorkeling spots for the day). By evening, our beans were always perfectly cooked and still warm from the "sun-oven" that that back window in the un-air conditioned car really was!

2. We'd throw a "load" of laundry, detergent, and water in our big cooler (brought on trips for the sole purpose of doing laundry since we didn't bother to even try to keep anything cold while traveling). We'd let the "washboard" gravel roads that we preferred to explore shake up the load half the day. We'd change the dirty gray water to rinse water around lunch time, shake some more in the afternoon, and then we'd hang up the laundry to dry while setting up camp in the late afternoon/early evening. It was usually dry by morning. If not, we'd use the drying laundry as an excuse to ...yes...canoe through the surf and find another good snorkeling spot.

Solar cooking works even when done by those of us who know nothing about it!
"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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Old 08-12-2007, 08:34 AM   #6
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When I was a kid. We would take a quacker oats can and slice it in half. Line it with aluminum foil and shove a cloths hanger in it. We would roast hot dogs on this and sell them at our kool aid stand. We never made any money as we kids ate and drank more then we made, BUT we were entertained and did sell some hot dogs.lol

Folks were kinda impressed how fast they cooked. To this day I think of this. They did roast real fast.

Other then hot dogs and cased meat I have no idea what else you could cook this was.lol

I would think solar cooking is about bust. I know you can do it, but is it worth it? Charcole is cheap and this handy grill I purchased that fits into a fishing rod holder. Talk about cool cooking.
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Old 11-15-2007, 12:54 PM   #7
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Was at the Athens boat show recently and there was a really good solar cooker there. Using the same principal of the african cooking pot and alfoil but very neat unit and not too heavy.

Their website is www.solarcooking.com


they spoke very good english and were keen to give out details on their product

size - 36x49x57 8.3 kgs and 180Euro

good luck.

sailing is one long learning curve
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Old 07-03-2008, 02:26 PM   #8
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Here is a site to teach you how to build your own and has several different designs.
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Old 07-12-2008, 02:59 PM   #9
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I used a solar oven for a few months while in Fiji and loved it. We got the solar oven from friends and had promised them we'd leave it at some remote village along the way, so I only had it for a few months, but used it quite a few times to ensure I could "teach" the islanders I left it with. If you didn't want to spend the money I think you could easily make one (my partner looked into it, but we never followed up). It is a little bulky to store (another reason to make one as you could do something with a collapsible box) and it takes a little bit of planning, as you need to start your cooking early in the day. The plus side is that I'd throw some meat & veggies, seasoning and a bit of liquid into the pot, put it in the oven in the late morning, and dinner was done -- no heating up the boat and no last minute "what should I make tonight". I was surprised to find that you can even make [good] bread.



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Old 07-29-2008, 05:37 AM   #10
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I was just on Lehman's because we'll be using one of their single burner folding stove top ovens (link) since we'll be cooking temporarily with just a cooktop. I saw the solar ovens while there and thought I'd share the link:

link to Lehman's solar ovens

"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

What we're doing - The sailing life aboard and the Schooner Chandlery.

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Old 07-30-2008, 12:13 AM   #11
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My experience with solar ovens is minimal. We are planning to try one on the boat. I am not sure that we could use one in rough seas. The folks that I know who regularly use one start their food when they leave for work in the morning and it is ready when they get home. They state that they have never burned anything in the oven. They must not gave my level of talent in the galley, as I can burn anything!


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Old 01-22-2010, 10:24 PM   #12
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We are cruising and make active use of our solar oven. I am a HUGE fan- this thing is fantastic!

After telling ourselves for at least a year that we'd build our own, we finally just bought one. Our choice was the Sport model from the Solar Oven Society: info available here: http://www.solarovens.org/buy.html.

We use less propane, and at least as important to me- we retain the sanity of the primary cook aboard (moi) because I don't have to sweat it out in a hot galley, or heat our boat while I'm cooking (it kills me that for the gold plated price they command, Force 10 ovens are not insulated. why, people? why?).

We have used it in higher latitudes (northern Michigan, about lat 43, when we received it last summer during a family visit)- success! Made ratatouille, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, hard boiled eggs, sausage & veggie "stir fry", etc.. We are now using it in Mexico, around 19 N., and it does more/faster. Made a carrot cake that was to die for. Yeast rolls came out done, but heavy; we don't have the reflectors, which would surely help. Roasted a whole chicken to falling-off-the-bone deliciousness, surrounded by rice, in 4-5 hours.

Besides preparing meals, we find it very useful for making fish jerky when we catch more than we can quickly eat. We have also sun-dried tomatoes in the solar oven, and I am planning to try beef jerky next (awesome passage snack).

The biggest downside is the bulk. It doesnt collapse, and it does take up a chunk of space. Its stayed on the deck here in Mexico, we can tie it down when things get bouncy- but Im not sure what well do with it for long passages.

I want to plug the Solar Oven Society specifically- their oven is made from recycled materials, and sales of it support their extensive nonprofit work to bring these ovens to those who truly need it.

Happy to field any questions... just let me know!


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