How to Plan Your Cooker Project?

When you first consider a cooker project you may just want to try cooking with sunlight as energy to see if it works. It does work and many people have been using solar ovens for 10-15 years.

You may start by trying a solar cooking project for a family camping trip but chances are you will continue to use your solar oven, look for better plans to build a bigger solar oven or end up buying a commercially made solar cooker.

The uncertain economic times have led to a growing survivalist movement. These are not the bearded extremists of years past but now include many families who are concerned about their future.

Comfort and Safety

To ensure the comfort and safety of their family, many are stockpiling foods and gear that can be used without relying on the commercial power grids.

They may utilize wind power or solar panels to provide light and heat to their homes and solar ovens are included in many survival kits.

There is a basic survival solar oven sold for about $150 that is designed for use during natural disasters or wilderness experiences.

This lightweight kit includes everything you need to cook using solar power. The oven is 12" high, 27" wide and 16" deep when the reflector is removed.

The kit includes 2 round pots with lids and an oven thermometer. A useful feature is a water pasteurization indicator that will let you know when boiling has removed potential hazards from impure water.

You can begin to plan a solar cooking project with a simple pizza box and aluminum foil. This is the Boy Scout version of a solar cooker - and it works very well. A pizza box solar cooker is a good project for your kids on a family camping trip.

It's a good lead-in to teaching them about conservation of natural resources and the importance of not adding to the problem of global warming with greenhouse gases. More than anything, it's a project kids can have fun with and take pride in.

How to Start?

Before you begin to cook with solar power you need to find the right location for your solar oven. The sun needs to reach the solar cooker throughout the day so any trees or posts that obstruct the sunlight are a problem.

A clear sunny day (the hotter the better) is what you want. Occasional clouds will not prevent you from using a solar cooker but you may have problems on days when a white haze covers the sky.

There are many styles and types of solar cookers. Almost all of the commercial products can be created as do-it-yourself projects at home. If you build your own cooker it's best to start with a simple plan.

Once you have a feel for solar cooking and the time involved you can move to a more advanced solar oven design.

Most of the U.S. has sunny days sufficient for using a solar oven but in some northeastern states you may want to move into a solar panel oven as overcast days are common.

Identify when your solar oven will be used. If used only on camping trips, you need to build a solar cooker that is light in weight and takes up little space.

If your cooker project is an occasional treat for your family be sure to save your used foil and pizza delivery boxes during the winter months to build solar cookers in the summer.

With an efficient solar cooker you can produce most of the same meals your family is accustomed to. Stews, meat loaf, biscuits and muffins are easily adaptable to solar cookers.

A solar cooking project could be part of an emergency kit if you live in an area where earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes are a common threat. Following a natural disaster you may find yourself lost without electrical power.

Water Pumps & Heaters

Water pumps and water heaters don't work; you can't cook on the kitchen range and can't boil water that may be contaminated.

It's common in such locales to stock up on bottled water and have a campstove with a supply of propane cylinders.

You may find it better to have a couple solar ovens in your emergency supplies. You won't run out of fuel, hot meals will be available and you can boil water to purify it.


There is no downside for a cooker project. This is not an expensive experiment as the supplies you need to build a solar oven are probably in your home or garage right now.

There's not wasted power and it's a low stress cooking experience when you cook with the sun's energy.

Stay around and make sure to browse our sections on alternative and renewable energy as well!