1. The Parabolic Reflector.
This is a large concave reflecting dish which when pointed at the sun, reflects the rays of sunlight towards a common intersecting point (the focus) at which the cookware is placed.
This is the MASTER BLASTER of the solar cooker designs and has affectionately been dubbed the DEATH RAY by impressed observers. It can, with some variations reach temperatures approaching the melting point of aluminium and has been known to do some unpleasant mischief. (see ‘Amusing Experiences’).
The cooker shown in the adjoining picture was constructed from a recycled TV satellite dish silvered with 2cm square mirrors (1000 in total) and is capable of the extreme temperature mentioned above. This device is more than a ‘slow cook’ oven. Its use is more akin to the the hot plates on the home stove and is more suited to frying and high temperature cooking, as you would do on your stove top.
2. The Box Cooker.
This is normally a double walled box, insulated in between with suitable material eg corrugated cardboard, wool, ceramic fibre etc and a glazed ( single or double ) top panel and painted black on the inside walls. The suns rays are directed into the box, striking a dark object (walls and pot) and are converted to heat which then heats up the air trapped inside the box which in turn heats up the pot. Another variation used successfully is one with a black base and silvered walls which bounce the sunlight around until it strikes a dark object thus creating heat. I personally prefer a fully blackened interior.
It can be any size depending on how many items of cookware are required to be heated at any given time. This is a gentle cooker, requiring only 50% sunlight to reach cooking temperatures. The side reflectors allow more sunlight into the box and the creation of extra heat.
The heating capacity is governed by the amount of sunlight entering the box and the insulation efficiency of its construction. The more efficient the insulation, the greater the oven temperature – remembering that the internal temperature will stabilise when heat loss equals heat gain. If the exterior of the box is warm to the touch, it is a plane indicator that there is excessive heat loss through the wall and more insulation may be required.
This cooker can be quite heavy and is most suitable as a fixture in the solar kitchen, garden or patio and mounted on a swivel base or mobile trolley, however a portable variation, a suitcase size cooker is very popular in Asia, especially India.
3. The Panel Cooker.
This is a slow cook oven created from a series of reflective panels aligned so as to direct sunlight on to a cookware item – from the sides, top and base. To entrap the heat of the pot which can easily blow away in the breeze, the pot should be placed into an ‘oven bag’ (not shown in photo) and then on to a grille base to keep it off the reflective base. The oven bag acts as a heat trap or door to trap the heat around the cookware item. Imagine trying to bake in your home oven with its door wide open
It is of lightweight construction, portable, and easily built from any flat lightweight material even CARDBOARD and ALFOIL or any other silvery reflective material
It is a most suitable cooker for a BACKPACKER, TRAVELER OR CAMPER and can be folded up to a handy flat carry size.