How DIY Solar Ovens Can Help You Save Energy Costs!

Mar 30, 2023by Olivia Harper - F&F

Did you know that you can save on gas bills by cooking your food with a DIY outdoor solar oven? These homemade box cookers can be put together for free with a few supplies you may already have on hand!

How Does Solar Cooking Work?

It is a known fact that the cost of gas has increased dramatically. If you are seeking ways to reduce your energy expenses, look no further than the sun! So, how do you harness the sun to cook?

Solar ovens work by redirecting UV rays from the sun onto the food inside using a reflective surface such as aluminium foil or reflective insulation. The open top of the box is covered with a clear material, either transparent plastic or glass, which acts like a greenhouse to trap the heat that enters.

Dark colours are better at absorbing heat, so using black cookware and a black bottom further increases the temperature of the box. Adding a layer of insulation on all sides also helps to raise the temperature.

Image: Getty

 What Can You Do With A Solar Cooker?

When made and used correctly, a homemade solar oven can reach temperatures of up to 90-150ºC, which is roughly equivalent to a slow cooker. Commercially-made solar ovens can get as hot as 200ºC!

A DIY oven is also great for cooking even small portions at lower temperatures; heat up leftovers, bake brownies, or melt cheese over some nachos. If you can get the temperature higher, you can expand your culinary options and make all kinds of dishes, like those you’d make in a slow cooker.

Solar ovens, however, require more time to cook meals compared to conventional ovens or stoves. You'll need to treat them like slow cookers and plan ahead when cooking meals.

Image: University of Central Florida

Why Build a Solar Oven?

There are many reasons to build your own solar oven! By cooking your food this way, you can curb your energy usage, harnessing the power of the sun to cook saves energy — and the money you’d spend on that energy.

Solar ovens are also much safer and less hazardous to cook with than conventional ovens, and don’t create any indoor air pollution, which is typical with gas stoves.

Solar ovens are not only eco-friendly but also ideal for summer when an indoor oven can heat up an already hot kitchen. Some smaller, portable solar oven models can even be packed and carried on camping or backpacking trips. Under the right, sunny conditions, you can still make deliciously hot camp food in areas with fire bans!

Image: Go Sun

What are your thoughts on solar ovens? Have you heard of them before? We can’t wait to take a shot at making our own and get cooking outdoors!

For more stories about eco-innovations from around the world, check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.

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