A solar cooker is a device that is used to cook food by using sunlight. It has a reflective panel that concentrates the rays of the sun onto a cooking pot or any container. The reflective panel is made up of many different kinds of materials. These materials are like metal or aluminum foil. It is designed to track the movements of the sun for an entire day.
More about it.
The solar cooker comes in many sizes and shapes. You can cook a broad category of foods in it like vegetables, meat, and pulses. These can be used in those areas where fuel has a high cost or is not available. But it surely requires sunlight for functioning. This method of cooking is environment friendly as it does not produce pollution or emission. Mostly every country uses it nowadays after knowing its benefits and saving on fuel.
How to use it?
It is important to know how to use it. Let’s explain it in the following steps
- The first thing to check is to decide on the location of the solar cooker. Make sure the direct sunlight must reach there. It must be an open and clean area.
- The second step is to align the panels to face the sun. Manu solar cooker comes with tracking. There is no manual movement is required as the sun moves. It moves automatically according to the sun’s movements.
- Set the food in the pot that you want to cook. Cover the pot to retain the heat and moisture.
- Place the pot in the center of the panels.
- Now leave the solar cooker to cook the food. The cooking time depends on the quantity and type of food you are cooking and also on the intensity of the sun. It takes more time to cook the food in the solar cooker.
- You must have to check the food after some time. If cooked then take the heat-resistant gloves and take out the pot.
- Enjoy your solar-cooked food.
Parts of a solar cooker?
A solar panel has the following parts
- Reflective Panel
The most important part of the solar cooker is the reflective panel. Its job is to concentrate the sunlight on the cooking pot. Its material is reflective like aluminum foil or metal. It also tracks the movements of the sun.
- Cooking Pot
A cooking pot is a container that is used to cook food. It is made from stainless steel material or ceramic sometimes. It has a lid to retain moisture and heat.
- Support Structure
The support structure is responsible for holding the reflective panels and the cooking container or pot. Its material is wood, plastic, or metal.
- Heat-trapping Cavit
As its name defines that it is a kind of trap for the cooking pot to retain more heat around the cooking pot.
The thermometer is used to measure the temperature of the food. It makes sure that food gets the proper temperature.
A handle is used to make it easy to carry from one place to another. Many solar cookers coming nowadays are collapsable.
Advantages of solar cooker
The solar cooker is mostly known as a cheap way of cooking food. This is because it does not require any fuel or electricity to cook the food. It needs only sunlight. So this method of cooking is very cost-effective.
- Environment friendly
Solar cookers are Eco-Friendly because they do not produce emissions or pollution. It depends on the sun’s rays for its functioning. It does not use coal, fuel, or wood.
Anyone can use it without prior knowledge. You just need to go through its process and you can easily use it. It is easy to set up and does not require any specific skill.
Solar cookers are very safe to use as they do not produce smoke, flame, or stove. This is one of the best options for those houses where young children are very naughty.
This cooker is versatile because you can cook a large variety of foods in it. These are vegetables, pulses, meat, and baking too. You can boil the water in it.
It is a healthier option for cooking as it does not produce smoke, flame, and fumes. Food made from this cooker is tasty as well as healthy as it has used no artificial fuel.
This cooking method is reliable as you can cook food any time whenever there is good sunlight. You can use it in any weather but the sun should be there.
- Govt. subsidy
There are many govt subsidies for buying solar cookers. Govt wants its citizens to use this kind of environment-friendly cooker or appliance. That’s why subsidy is provided by the govt to help the citizens.
- Easy to use
These cookers are easy to use. It comes with a manual that is very easy to follow. You can easily operate it whenever required.
Drawbacks of a solar cooker
The followings are the disadvantage of the solar cooker.
- Dependency on sunlight
Solar cookers are fully dependent on sunlight. If the weather is not clear, you can’t cook food in this device and may be dependent on other cooking appliances or gas stoves. If you are living in an area where the sun has very hot rays, then this is one of the best options for you. However, careful planning and usage make it possible to cook food in all weather except in the rain.
- Cooking time more
Solar cooker cooks food very slowly because it is dependent on the rays of the sun. If you come from a job and are feeling hungry. You can’t rely on this. You use the other methods of cooking.
- Limited capacity
These cookers are designed to cook food in limited quantities. If you have a big family, then it is not a piece of cake for you.
Its parts are not as durable as other cooking appliances. It requires frequent replacement of its parts which increases its overall cost.
- Initial cost
We always buy a solar cooker because we think of long time benefits(It saves money on fuel and electricity) But its initial cost is high than other appliances.
Nowadays, Many different types of solar cooker comes on the market. Many of those are difficult to use and assemble. It may require an expert.
Do not be afraid of buying a solar cooker after reading these disadvantages but you need to plan carefully and get the maximum benefits of it. If you maintain it properly, its life also increases. You can help the environment by not using fuel.
Maintenance of solar cooker
proper maintenance of this cooker makes sure that it will function properly and last for a long time. Some of the tips to maintain the solar cooker are:
- Clean the reflective panel
As we read in the parts of solar cooker the reflective panel is one of the important parts. So, Its care is also crucial. Always keep it free from dust and dirt. Regularly clean it after every usage. Because it reflects its ability to concentrate on the sun. Use a clean and soft cloth to clean it.
- Carefully check for cracks and damage
It is important to carefully inspect the cooking pot or container for any kind of crack or damage. It is important because if it is cracked, then the pot may leak the food inside it and damage the reflective plates.
- Store it carefully
Whenever you are not using it, Store it in a cool and dry place to prevent any kind of damage to it.
- Protection from extreme weather
The solar cooker must be protected from weather conditions like wind or heavy rain. It may damage the reflective panel.
- Use a carrying case
It is good to have a carrying case because it will protect the solar cooker while you are transporting it. It will also be good to protect your cooker from dust, dirt, and bacteria.
- Check for insects
It is also important to check carefully that there is no insect like ants, cockroaches, wasp, etc. before you use it.
Types of a solar cooker
The following are the types of solar cookers:
- Box cooker
The box-style cookers are insulated boxes with a plastic lid that is used to trap the heat and allow sun rays to enter. The food is placed inside it and sun rays cook the food. These cookers have a box that is painted black from the inside. As we knew that black color absorbs more heat or light. In the same way, it absorbs the sun’s rays.
- Panel Cooker
It has reflective panels that concentrate the sunlight on it where the food is cooking and the pot is placed. This kind of solar cooker has lightweight and you can easily store them.
- Parabolic cooker
These cookers use parabolic reflectors for the concentration of sun rays on the focal point, where the cooking pot is placed. These are faster to cook the food and are very efficient. But it requires proper skill to use because these are complex. These cookers are more efficient because it is capable of generating more heat and cooking faster. However, these are more expensive than other types of a cooker.
- Hybrid cooker
A hybrid cooker as its name defines it, combines or uses two methods. It cooks the food in a solar cooker by combining another method such as gas or electricity. It is used in those cases where cooking needs to be done quickly. You can use these cookers in bad weather conditions too because it uses gas or electricity also. It uses gas or electricity only if sunlight is not as hot as required. It keeps gas and electricity as a backup.
- Solar oven
These are box-type cooker that uses a clear plastic or glass dome to trap sunlight, heat, and moisture. If you love baking or roasting, then this will work for you. Its box is lined with a specific reflective material or metal and then covered with glass. These cookers are inexpensive and Eco-friendly. It requires no training or skill to use.
Price of it
The price of this cooker depends on many factors like the type of cooker, size, capacity, and type of panel type is used. In the USA, its price starts from $20 and goes up. In India, its price is Rupees 2500 and above.
Points to consider before you buy it
- Easy to Move
Whenever you will buy a cooker, the very first thing to remember is to see whether it is easy to move or not. Its angle must be easy to adjust according to the sun. It must be a kind of suitcase. So that you can easily open and close it. Its weight must be light, Many parabolic-style cookers look like satellite dishes. Those are not easy to move.
- External temperature gauge
The solar cooker is not the same as cooking on a gas stove. We can control the temperature of the stove at any level. It is good to buy a cooker that shows its internal temperature on the gauge. Many pots come with temperature gauges.
- Easy to clean
Another thing to remember is that it must be easy to clean. Its internal or external parts must be repaired time-to-time.
- Safe to access
If you have young kids at home, then it is very important to see whether it has a proper outer box that is heat resistant. You must be able to access it safely.
- Measure your requirements
Another point is to gather your requirements like the size of a family and the type of cooker you need.
The solar cooker is the greatest way to cook food without using fossil fuels, electricity, or any gas. These all are expensive and damage our environment. So, solar cookers are very useful where electricity is not reachable. I explain all the types of solar cookers and the advantages and disadvantages of solar cookers. Must read those in the above section.
You can read my article here.