An great edition to any homestead or survival retreat is a solar cooker. As simple as they are effective, solar cookers use the sun’s energy to heat and cook food placed in the center of the cooker. The cookers use reflective or mirrored materials to direct sunlight to the desired area. The energy from the light interacts with the reflective material and produces heat. The result is a concentrated and heated area powerful enough to cook an egg or a pot of soup!
There are many benefits to using a solar cooker compared to traditional ovens and ranges. First of all, the cost to operate a solar cooker is zero! Outside of the purchase of materials or a pre-manufactured cooker, ongoing use has no cost whatsoever. It is also completely sustainable as there is no need for electricity, gas, or any other fuel. Additionally, while they do get quote hot and can burn your skin, there is very minimal fire risk. Most solar cookers are portable, meaning you can take them anywhere. Whether in your backyard, your bug out location, or camping with your family, the lightweight nature of the cookers makes them quite versatile.
The primary disadvantage of course is your inability to cook at night or on a cloudy day. With no sun, there is no solar energy. With no solar energy there is no solar cooker.
There are three different types of cookers – panel, box, and parabolic. The panel cookers are comprised of a sheets of reflective material similar to a sun shade that are folded at angles so as to concentrate the most sunlight in a given area. Panel cookers are easiest to construct and can often be folded down on themselves, making for easy transport. Box cookers are a little more difficult to construct but allow for greater cooking space and can sometimes house multiple dishes or pots. Parabolic cookers look like deep satellite dishes and have the ability to cook food faster than the other models. Due to their unique shape however, they need to be turned towards the sun more often during a cooking session than the alternatives.
While many people purchase solar cookers online or in stores, they are really quite simple to construct on your own. Check out the following page that has several different plans for a variety of different types of solar cookers.