February 2, 2009 in solar
Recently, I came across a solar cooking wiki and a whole group of YouTube videos about how Africans are adopting parabolic solar cookers in their villages. The importance of this didn’t really sink in for me until I saw how women walk hours through elephant infested nature preserves to find wood that they poach unsustainably. They get chased by angry elephants (its THEIR home after all) and the women spend ALL DAY finding dwindling resources, leaving behind unattended or poorly attended babies and small children.
In particular, there is the Zambian Mfuwe Solar Cooker Project initiated by Manda Chisanga, a guide in South Luangwa National Park who had won a guiding award and decided to spend his prize money on Solar Cookers.
“The documentary covers the installation of five SunFire14 Parabolic Dishes – the project has been expanded to 15 and we are looking at ways to get 500 Parabolic Dishes into the community to cover 6000 families.” source
With a parabolic solar cooker, all of these risky and ecologically unsustainable practices are stopped immediately. The women can stay with their kids, young girls can go to school instead of watching babies or collecting wood all day themselves.
If that doesn’t sound radical and revolutionary, you are not thinking it through.
You can learn all about the basic principles of solar cooking and see plans for building your own DIY cooker at the Solar Cooking Wiki. Give it a whirl and see what you think.
I have been wanting to make our own DIY solar oven for ages and have finally scraped together some found objects that we have used to make our first winter relevant solar cooker. No cooking is happening yet because I am still testing it and there was no sun to speak of today! We do this in part as a homeschooling project too so the testing is an important part of it.
If you do this, share! Let me hear about how it is going for you.
Found materials and also some high heat enamel spray (which I bought for this project)
Cut to fit insulation on bottom of the oven
Crafting, with duct tape, the interior box
Need to trim height of the box
Trimmed and taped and ready to be sprayed with enamel
Sprayed, dried, inside larger box, found insulation in place
Next step is to make all manner of reflectors to sculpt the photons into the oven
Materials for reflectors
Two reflectors made. I rigged up a tape slide holder on the backs so that the reflectors are placed without taping them onto the oven part.
Slide holder rig
One reflector rigged up
Black covered pot and temperature probes
Solar oven set up inside as we test it out
Made a third reflector and started testing positioning (which isn’t really intuitive, more experiential)
I know I could buy a solar oven but what fun is that?! Not terribly frugal either
Once we get a good sunny day I will test it properly and share back here!