Solar Cooking Device: Off-Grid Heavy-Duty Oven

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As populations increase and forests and fossil fuels disappear, the need for an alternative method of cooking around the world is intensifying. As of today, 2.4 billion people still depend on wood, charcoal, or dung for cooking fuel.

Unfortunately, people who cook with wood or charcoal inhale the equivalent of three smoking packs of cigarettes each day. On the other hand, governments in developing countries looking for solutions to deforestation and increasing fuel costs, and families looking for a way to bake without heating up their kitchens, have found a solution.

 

Redefining Cooking

People around the world are using solar ovens to reduce reliance on firewood and charcoal. A solar oven is an effective energy-saving way to cook your food, it enriches a healthy lifestyle, and benefits the environment in many ways.

Up to 85% of the smoke can be eliminated with the use of a solar oven. You can buy a ready to use sun oven, or you can make a lightweight solar oven out of a cardboard box.

Now, the sun oven that I will somehow guide you to build is a really heavy-duty solar oven. Certainly, this solar oven will last a long time since is made of a metal drum.

Redefining Cooking

Supplies List to Build a Solar Oven

  • Half Metal Drum

  • 1 Metal-Cutting Blade

  • 1 Sheet Metal (large rectangle)

  • 1 Reflective Spray Paint

  • 60 ⅛ inch (.32 cm) Pop Rivets

  • 6 Pieces of Metal Flashing

  • 1 Cardboard

  • 1 Spray-on Insulation can

  • 1 Sheet of Tempered Glass 3⁄16 inch (0.48 cm) thick custom-sized

  • 1 Meat Thermometer

  • 2 Aluminum Racks (Rectangular)

Tools to Build Solar Oven

Jigsaw, Flexible Measuring Tape, Tin Snips , Googles, Gloves, Rivet gun and a Drill Bit.

The Heavy-duty Solar Oven

Always wash out the metal drum with degreasing soap and let it air dry before starting.

  • Cut a large metal drum in half vertically with a jigsaw. An oil drum will work well for this purpose. Be sure to use a metal-cutting blade; when you’re done, the half-drum should look like a cradle.

  • Cut a large rectangle of sheet metal to fit the curved interior of the drum. The long side should be as long as the long side of the drum. The other should equal the curved width of the interior of the drum. You can measure the curved interior with a flexible measuring tape, and then mark it out on the sheet metal. Use tin snips to cut sheet metal. For the large rectangle: one side be as long as the long side of the drum, the other should equal the curved length of the interior.

  • Cut two half circles to fit inside the ends of the drum. Using tin snips, cut a string the length of the radius of the end of the drum. Tie a marker to the end of the string. Hold the string onto the sheet metal, and swivel the marker around to draw a circle. Cut out the circle and cut it in half.

  • Attach the sheet metal to the inside of the drum. Drill holes through both the sheet metal and the drum with a ⅛ inch (.32 cm) drill bit, then apply ⅛ inch (.32 cm) pop rivets with a rivet gun. Slide the rivet into the nozzle of the rivet gun. Place the rivet into the hole you have drilled and squeeze the trigger of the rivet gun.

  • Paint the inside of the oven with a reflective paint rated for barbecues. This will maximize the amount of heat inside the oven. Paint in a well-ventilated place, preferably outside.

  • Create a metal lip with flashing around three top edges of the oven. This will hold the glass top, which you will slide in and out through the open side. The easiest way to create a lip is with six pieces of metal flashing: Make a flashing “sandwich” by putting on two layers of flashing so that the glass can slide between them, instead of sliding on the uneven edges of the barrel. Place a strip of thick cardboard in between the two layers of flashing to hold them apart while you drill through both layers and attach the flashing to the drum with pop rivets. Remove the cardboard and repeat until 3 of the top sides of the drum have flashing sandwiches.

  • Flip the half-drum over and apply spray-on insulation to the outside. Spray-on insulation expands a lot, so start with a thin layer, and wait for it to dry before applying more.

  • Drill drainage holes in the bottom of the oven. Drill a small hole about every 3 inches (7.6 cm) in a straight line across the bottom of the oven. Make sure to pierce the insulation. The small holes will allow condensation to escape the oven.

  • Slide a custom-sized sheet of tempered glass into the metal lip. Tempered glass is tougher than regular glass, and it comes with the sharp edges ground off. That means you can use it as is, without having to sand. The glass should be about 3⁄16 inch (0.48 cm) to be thick enough to be sturdy. You’ll have to custom order the glass at a hardware store based on the dimensions of your solar oven.

  • Insert a thermometer into the oven, if you want. You can check the thermometer to see how hot your oven has gotten.

  • Place aluminum racks on the bottom of the oven. Place one or two rectangular grills into the oven so that you can position your food. This is helpful because without the grill, the bottom of your oven is curved, making it tricky to place any pans in the oven.

     

Recommendations

Cook your food on a sunny day. For best results, use your solar oven between 11am and 2pm. That’s when the sun is at its most intense. The sun moves throughout the day, so if you’re cooking something that’s going to take a few hours, make sure you don’t put the oven someplace that will be shady in an hour.

Reposition your solar oven when needed, so that it faces direct sunlight. You should be checking periodically on your oven, to make sure it is in the sun. Depending on your location, you should angle your oven in different directions to make the most of the available sunlight.

To cook meat, follow a similar process as you would if you were using a crock-pot, or some other kind of slow-cooker. To roast a chicken, for instance, you might need about 5 hours. Test the meat’s internal temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it gets to 170 °F (77 °C), the temperature that kills germs.

Solar sun ovens are the foremost and most effective solar cooking devices for anywhere and anyone in the world. They have been adopted by diverse people, who have all discovered that solar energy is the least polluting and most inexhaustible of all know energy sources and it is free.