Build Your Own Solar Cooker With Low Budget

Even a child can easy build a solar cooker with a limited budget. A solar cooker is a great summer project for kids whether in the back yard or on a weekend camping trip.

The most basic solar cooker is one often used by Boy Scout troops and is built from a pizza delivery box and aluminum foil.

The cardboard pizza box is completely covered on the inside of box and inside of the box lid with heavy duty aluminum foil (shiny side up).

You may need to punch small holes in the lid and insert fine wires to attach the foil firmly. A small piece of wood or coat hanger wire is attached to one side of the box and to the lid.

This is used to keep the box lid propped upright at a 90 degree angle from the bottom of the box.

By locating the box so the sunlight strikes the open lid and the lined box bottom, the UV rays are focused on a glass pot or dark pan placed at the center of the open box. This little solar cooker is easy to make and it actually works.

Durable Solar Cookers

You may be surprised at the versatility of solar cookers. A discarded satellite dish is an excellent beginning to make a solar cooker.

Remove the LNB components that direct the satellite onto the dish and use the steel arm that held the LNB as a pot hanger. The concave shape of a small satellite dish is just right to make a parabolic solar cooker.

Lined with shiny foil this cooker will focus the sun's energy on the bottom of a pot hunt from the arm.

Another solar cooker made with a limited budget uses a metal washtub. The washtub forms the base of this home made cooker. Sun hitting the metal tub creates energy (heat) inside the tub.

The top portion of this solar cooker is a four sided reflective piece that is flared out slightly from the bottom to the top to capture as much sun as possible.

A piece of wood covered the opening of the washtub. A square opening cut into the wood is lined with glass which allows the top section of reflector panels to capture UV rays and reflect them into the shiny inside of the tub where the pot is placed.

The glass holds in the heat and acts as a magnifier for the UV rays entering the tub's interior.

An advantage of a home made wash tub solar cooker is the ability to build the wooden cover with a hinged frame that allows you to adjust the angle of the reflective panes as the sun's position changes.

You can find exact directions and measurements for a washtub solar cooker with a simple Google search online.

You can purchase a new washtub for about $20-30 but can find them at flea markets and yard sales much cheaper. You may have one in the garage or basement.

If buying a used tub, clean it up to clear the reflecting surface of dust or grit. If the inside is no longer bright, line it with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Why Bother?

The point of using solar energy in any form is to save money while also utilizing free natural resources.

Families who are interesting in solar cooking are usually budget conscious. They want to use solar cooking, for example, during the hottest summer months.

Not only does this save on electrical power costs of cooking on a kitchen range. A solar cooker also prevents heating up the kitchen inside your home that then requires more energy from the A/C system to cool the kitchen.

Those hot summer days when the sun is baking the earth are perfect days to use a solar cooker. A cardboard box lined with foil and insulated with pieces of an old blanket can made a good temporary solar cooker when you add reflective panels to capture the sun's rays.

When using any solar cooker, it's important to remember you must always have a lid on any pot or pan you use. Clear glass pans and lids work well as do black painted pans and lids that allow heat to be easily absorbed.

Avoid use of light colored pans, either metal or painted, as those will tend to reflect the heat and are not good for a solar cooker.


It's is not difficult to build a solar cooker. Most of the supplies you need for a simple solar cooker or solar oven are on hand in your home.

Plans for low cost solar cookers are easy to find online and even an inexperienced do-it-yourselfer can make a simple solar cooker.