My Solar Oven: Renewable Energy the Simpler Way

I was at the salvage yard the other day and saw some cheap mirrors, so I bought them. Not so that I could look at myself. From my typical appearance it is clear that I do not do that nearly as often as I should. Rather, I thought I could use them to make a good solar oven, and it turned out I could.

As you will see from the pictures, a solar oven works by concentrating the sun’s rays toward a central tub which heats up and thereby functions as an oven. My solar oven consists of four mirrors, two cardboard sheets which I covered with tin foil, a black tub (a good colour for heat absorption), and the glass from a picture frame. Within the tub I placed a closed cooking pot with a glass lid. Total cost of these salvaged materials: $38.

I set it up at 10:30am and much to my surprise the cooking pot was too hot to touch in about half an hour. This was all the more surprising because the temperature in Melbourne today only reached 22 degrees (C) and there was scattered cloud for parts of the day. By mid-afternoon I had successfully cooked beetroots and carrots from the garden, as well as a bowl of red lentils. I chose beetroots and carrots due to their natural sugars, which were enhanced during the slow cook. Dee-licious. I look forward to experimenting with different foods (e.g. bread, pasta sauces, potatoes, cakes etc.) especially as we enter summer days reaching heats into the 30s and 40s.

Solar ovens are hardly a means of giving up your indoor oven. The sun is not always shining, and some foods probably won’t work so well. But when the sun is out and temperatures are moderate to high, solar ovens provide an easy, fun, and cheap way to reduce electricity or gas consumption in cooking. If everyone used such a device once or twice a week during the warmer months, fossil fuel consumption could be significantly impacted.  There is something thrilling about making do with what you have, to do things you never thought you could. And it is nice to be working with nature rather than against it. We can be a good team if we’re smart about it.

You will also see in the last two photos my “solar-heated shower” (the hanging black bag) which I wrote about last year here. Another easy way to reduce energy consumption. 

















8 Responses to “My Solar Oven: Renewable Energy the Simpler Way”

  1. Jim barribeau says:

    Well done, Sam.

  2. Greta says:

    Hi Samuel… Great inventions here.. Yes, your solar oven is a great help for conserving energy. How I wish I can do this too…
    Latest post from Greta…Banana Split Cupcakes

  3. Green Power says:

    Finally great to see a “real” review of a solar oven. I’ve been looking at these for a couple years and most “reviews” are salesy pitches. Refreshing to find this and the awesome pictures, love your garden. I really look forward to seeing follow articles of additional items you tried to cook!
    Latest post from Green Power…Oregon Wind Energy Calculator Launched by Energy Trust

  4. d'Arcy says:

    Nice nd just the kind of oven I’ve been searching for my Simply Happy – sustainable life model and education project in New Zealand next year… Would be good to have a pic from the back to see how you held the mirrors in position and a description for the strings attached! Thanks Samuel and will get the proposal for my Simply Happy idea off to you soon!
    Latest post from d’Arcy…A Day in Doha…

  5. Samuel Alexander says:

    Hi d’Arcy, you will see a screw-driver in the picture. This is holding the black tub in place, and the side and back mirrors are just leaning up against the edge of the bottom mirror. This is a very oven-specific mechanism, so won’t help people much. When you salvage materials, you have to get creative.

    Good luck to all those who experiment!

  6. Digmore says:

    Great idea…We could do with some of your Aussie sunshine here in Wales

  7. […] other alternative technologies, see my posts on the Solar Oven here and the Solar Shower Bag […]

  8. […] other alternative technologies, see my posts on the Solar Oven here and the Solar Shower […]

  9. DEC S says:

    This is some really cool stuff – useful in many ways. Think of people in poorer countries doing this as an alternative to open fires inside living spaces…

    Think we’ll be grilling up some veggies this way ourselves, thanks for the interesting post!
    Latest post from DEC S…Electricity Get’s Even More Expensive for Homes Without Solar

  10. […] other alternative technologies, see my posts on the Solar Oven here and the Solar Shower Bag here. […]

  11. Terry says:

    Exellent invention samuel,what this post could do wit is a nice short vidio so we can see it in action.

    Well done.
    Latest post from Terry…Biofuels an Alternative Energy Source

  12. […] my experiments with other alternative technologies, see my deindustrial washing machine, my solar oven, and my solar […]

  13. […] examples of alternative technology that I’ve written about, see my posts on solar ovens (here), my solar shower bag (here) my post-electric washing machine (here), and my non-electric fridge […]

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