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Your opinion on solar cookers:

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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

I've been wondering if some of you have any experiences with solar cookers. I've seen them recently in action and found them quite interesting.

Do you think it is good to have one?
And if yes, do you think it would make sense to buy one (how much?) or better try to build one?

I'd appreciate to hear your opinions or experiences!
 

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I'm going to buy one, simply because I think it would be a great addition to my arsenal, so to speak, and while a homemade one would work well and be very cheap, I haven't seen plans for any that are really sturdy and would hold up. Some probably exist, but I'd just rather buy one. You can get some that fit dehydrator racks too and have a dual-purpose appliance!
 

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I haven't read up on them too much but if I were to get one I would build it. Just so I can continue to use that to my knowledge and maybe use it to barter in a Post Apocalyptic scenario.
 

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We have two of them - one that I bought and one that I built. Do they work? - Yeah, more or less if it is a bright sunny day in the summer when the sun is up long enough to do the job. They work great for things like purifying water and making baked beans, less so for baking bread. Anything that is baked in a solar oven will not change color as it bakes. So a loaf of bread, although cooked, is still the color of the raw dough. They say you can paint on a little butter and it will turn brown. - Yeah, okay, sort-of; it's not the same.

The one I bought is the model from Solutions From Science. I bought it to have a pattern to make my own because I had never seen one in real life. Also, the reviews on it were considerably higher than some of the others. The first thing I noticed is the reviews lie. They claimed they were able to generate an internal temp of 400 degrees on a bright sunny day and claimed that it did not matter if it was winter or summer. That may be accurate if you live in Kenya and are testing it at high noon. The best I have been able to achieve with it was about 275 degrees in the summer. In the winter, it does not work worth a tinker's damn. Of course I live in Minnesota, so if I see the sun in the winter, it is usually well below zero.

Is it worth having? - Yeah, okay, maybe, I guess. They are big and bulky and take up a lot of storage space. They are slow to cook anything. The reviews claim a big benefit is that they do not give off any odor when you cook something in them. That is only partially true. The food you are cooking still gives off its normal cooking odor. But it is true there is no odor of a campfire.

At the end of the day, I would still prefer something like a rocket stove for cooking if I had to rely on it for survival. But as I said earlier, they do work pretty well to augment your Berkey for purifying water. So I would say put it on the "nice to have" prepper list, but still pretty close to the bottom of the list. There are a bunch of other things that work better.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for your helpful replies!!

Inor, thanks for your detailed reply and good to know that the solar cooker does not seem to work well when it's cold regardless whether the sun is shining.

Has anyone else had any good or bad experiences with solar cookers (bought/built)?
 

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There are two types of solar ovens. The most common is the "direct heat" solar oven that uses reflectors to direct the heat into an "insulated" box. The will work in warm climates as long as you keep them turned and tilted in the right direction and angle. They are big, bulky to store and are better at warming leftovers (if you have a few hours) than they are for cooking.
The "indirect heat" type of solar oven is an improvement in that it is better insulated and you can use charcoal or a fire to heat it if the sun is not available. It has an exposed metal top (an inverted heat sink) with the other five sides well insulated. You direct the light from the sun through a Fresnel lens onto the center of the top. Depending on the size of the lens and the distance from the focal plane you can get some very high temps (which are controlled by varying the distance to the focal plane). Just like any other solar device you have to keep the lens between the top plate and the sun. It is very labor intensive and as a general rule not very good except in bright sunlight on warm days. O cloudy days you can place a charcoal ring (just a steel ring) on top and build a fire or burn charcoal to warm the oven. It still takes a long time and you have to tend the fire (it is rather small) to keep a proper temperature.
A dutch over in a fire pit is much better as far as an investment goes.
 
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Solar noddles Ramen noodles break noodles up good. Place in plastic bag with water. seal it throw on hood in the sun till tender add mix enjoy.
mexicans and the like been solar cooking on rocks for a long time
 
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