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How to Make a Solar Oven
Making a solar oven or box cooker is a fun experiment and also allows you to cook some of your favorite dishes in an environment-friendly way. Solar energy is a renewable source of energy and using it for our daily needs prevents the depletion of the limited non-renewable energy sources on Earth.
Materials for Solar Oven Science Project
- Cardboard pizza box
- Scissors or box knife
- Clear tape
- Aluminium foil
- Black construction paper
- Clear plastic wrap or a freezer zip-lock bag
- Wooden spoon or ruler
Building a Pizza Box Solar Oven
- Use the scissors or box knife to cut out a flap in the lid of the pizza box. You should cut only along its three sides leaving a gap of 1 inch between the edges of the lid and the sides of the flap.
- Use aluminium foil to cover the inner side of the flap. This material is used to enable the reflection of sun rays from its surface. You need to wrap the foil tightly around the flap before taping it to the outer side.
- For sunlight to enter the box, you are required to create a window with the clear plastic wrap. You can achieve this by opening the flap and taping a double layer of plastic wrap to the 1-inch space left at the borders. Care should be taken to make the junctions airtight.
- Use black construction paper to line the base of the box since black is a good absorber of heat. It is this surface on which your dishes are going to get cooked.
- Roll up sheets of newspaper and place them at the bottom of the box around the borders. You can use tape to secure them to the box so that when the lid is closed, the setup is airtight. Take care to make the rolls of the correct size so that the lid can close tightly over them. This offers a good insulation for your DIY.
- Your solar oven is almost complete. Place the food that you want to cook, inside the oven. Lest the dark bottom lining become dirty, it is better to use a clear plastic, glass or pie plate to hold the food.
- Place a thermometer inside to check the temperature of cooking.
- Take it outside in the sun. The best time for cooking would be between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Adjust the flap in such a way that maximum sunlight is reflected by the aluminium foil onto the plastic-covered window. Take the help of the ruler to prop the flap to the correct angle.
- After allowing sufficient time to cook, open the lid of the box and take the dish out with the help of oven mitts or potholders. In this connection, it may be mentioned that the solar oven takes a much longer time (almost double or even more) than your regular oven to complete cooking.
How Does a Solar Box Cooker Work
Solar ovens made in this way are also known as collector boxes since they collect sunlight inside them. As your oven sits in the sun, the sun’s rays get reflected by the shining aluminium foil, a good reflector, into its interiors. Now, the base of the oven, being a good absorber of the incoming sunlight raises the temperature while cooking the food in the process. The newspaper rolls do not allow the trapped heat to escape from the sides of the arrangement.
What You Can Cook – Solar Oven Recipes
There is a variety of yummy options that you can choose from to cook in your homemade oven. Try making toast by buttering a slice of bread and letting the solar oven do the rest. Cooking a hot dog or nachos with cheese and chips is also a delectable option. The solar powered oven is also good at making your favorite snack, s’mores. The oven also comes in handy when you want to heat up leftovers from previous meals.
Some Other Solar Oven Designs
Some patterns of solar ovens are made from multiple reflector panels to focus sunlight amply into the central part of the oven.
This unique design of solar oven given below has been made by fitting one cardboard box over another with the help of duct tape. Space in between the two boxes is plugged with newspapers; a glass photo frame is used as the top covering window and aluminium foil covered flaps on all the four sides act as reflectors.
Given below is the plan for a solar oven made by opening up a cardboard shoebox and fitting strategically placed glossy panels.
Given below are some more great yet easy design ideas.
Solar Oven Plans to Make Cooking Easier
Any of the designs mentioned above could be the best among your peers if done the right way. You just need to ensure faster cooking by letting maximum heat buildup in your oven. You can achieve that by setting up the shiny surface at different angles to check which configuration reflects the most light. If you have already made a box oven, try your hand at other shapes to check which one gives the greatest thermometer reading. Also, try other insulating materials like aluminium foil, spun fiberglass, feathers, wool, rice hulls, straw, apart from newspapers in your quest for the best.
Kids will love to cook up a storm using their DIY solar ovens. If they plan to do this for their science fair project, they are sure to win accolades for their work. Let them get to work with the simple tools taking the help of the instructions given here.
Published on September 30th 2015 by Papiya Dutta under Science Fair Projects. Article was last reviewed on 14th September 2016.