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Solar Oven

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Solar Cooking

Benefits of a Solar Oven

The solar oven or "solar cooker" is becoming increasingly common around the world to reduce the reliance on firewood and other cooking fuels in areas that do not have access to electricity or only have access to an unreliable supply. The solar oven is also becoming increasingly popular in developed countries as well, especially among people who are looking for ways to save money and reduce their impact on the environment.

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Solar Oven

A wide variety of meals can be prepared using a solar oven, including main dishes, side items, appetizers and many other items. A solar oven can also be used for everything from purifying water to cooking the same type of meals you would normally when using a traditional stove or oven.

Solar OvenCooking with a solar oven is also one of the most energy efficient, affordable and healthy ways to prepare your food. A solar oven allows you to cook using heat generated by the sun for free, instead of using an electric or gas stove or relying on a charcoal or propane grill.

When preparing meals using a solar oven, all you need is a solar oven and free sunshine. Besides the oven itself, there is no additional cost associated with cooking your meal and you can even save money by making your own solar oven.

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How A Solar Oven Works

The fundamental principle behind the solar oven is the greenhouse effect. In a solar oven, the greenhouse effect works by converting the solar energy of the sunlight that shines through the glass cover of the solar oven and is then reflected off of the aluminum foil that makes up the inside of the solar oven. The sunlight is reflected off of the foil and directed onto a dark pot that absorbs the heat and cooks it's contents.

The glass cover of the solar oven serves two purposes. First, the cover separates the pot from the outside environment, which prevents air currents from cooling the pot. Second, the optical properties of the glass retains the heat inside of the cooking chamber so that it does not escape. The most basic solar ovens can reach about 300 degrees F, and the most sophisticated ones can cook at much higher temperatures.

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Solar Oven Designs

There are a variety of solar oven designs, with the most popular being, parabolic and panel ovens. These are not the only types of solar ovens, but they are the most commonly used and readily available options.

The box style solar oven is the easiest type of solar oven available. Box style solar ovens can be made from wood, cardboard, plastic or metal and are designed to hold and cook a number of items simultaneously. Box style solar ovens are basically a box in which the dark cooking pot is placed. The top of the box is a reflector that can be adjusted to make the rays hit the inside of the oven. These box ovens may need to be moved when the sun changes its position to get the most consistent heat.

The parabolic solar oven cooks faster than other types of solar ovens, but they require more attention during the cooking process. They are large curved concave and very shiny metal reflectors with a dark pot sitting in the middle. Usually these parabolic ovens can be rotated to catch the best of the sun's angles for cooking. But since they get so hot that it is important to have only trained people cook with them.

The panel solar oven is basically a hybrid design featuring characteristics of both the box and parabolic solar ovens. They have a cavity like a box solar oven where the pot sits, but they also have a curved reflector like the parabolic solar oven to collect and point the sunlight.

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Solar Oven Tips

A solar oven is very effective anywhere that direct sunlight is available. The only drawbacks of a solar oven, is that you can not set the temperature or determine cooking times with the same accuracy as you can in a conventional oven. Using meat thermometer is the best option for cooking using a solar oven.

Make sure to be careful when handling food or utensils inside the solar oven or when removing the pane of glass from the top. The solar oven can get very hot so make sure to use potholders, tongs, or some other kitchen utensil as you would when working with a conventional oven or any other heat source.

Also make sure to never put your hand inside the solar oven without the protection of a potholder glove or you may burn yourself.

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Advantages Of A Solar Oven

As mentioned above, there are many benefits associated with the use of a solar oven when preparing food. The main advantages of using a solar oven include:

  • The energy used for a solar oven is completely free and it is a fully renewable resource.
  • You will save money on your ho energy costs since your oven or stove will not be heating your home on a hot summer day.
  • The flavor of the food is preserved when using a solar oven.
  • Food is not exposed to potential carcinogens during the cooking process, as does happen with grilling and open fire cooking.
  • Nutrient content of food is retained because solar cooking is a more gentle food preparation method.
  • A solar oven does not emit pollutants into the environment.
  • A solar oven does not pose a fire hazard.

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