The Halacy Solar Oven Project
Using the power of sunlight to cook food makes for a very rewarding project. One of the most common approaches is by using a device called a Solar Oven or Cooker. A Solar Oven is basically an insulated box, with a clear glass cover and reflectors to direct sunlight inside. The sunlight warms the inside of the box and its contents. This approach works surprisingly well, and is especially fun while camping or at the cottage.
The Solar Oven shown here was built more-or-less according to plans first published in 1959 in a book titled "Fun with the Sun" by D. S. Halacy Jr. Since then, these same basic plans have appeared in multiple magazines and publications. Today, an updated version of the plans are readily available in the book "Cooking with the Sun: How to build and use a Solar Cooker" by Beth and Dan Halacy, which is where you should start if you decide to build one.
Our rendition of the Halacy Solar Oven incorporates a few refinements worth mentioning...
Perhaps most obvious is the layout of the reflector material. By using polished aluminum and by making careful bends, we were able to fashion reflective corners to increase the captured sunlight. The reflective corners attach with simple wingnut hardware to speed the assembly and disassembly. Also, note how the main reflectors are attached using aluminum piano hinge to fold for easy storage.
Another challenge was finding a suitable thermal insulation for lining the inside of the Solar Oven. We chose to use simple fiberglass ceiling panels, with the plastic facing removed, cut to shape and then spray painted black.
The seal for the glass door was also something of a challenge. We used a doubled-up layer of simple fiberglass cloth, as sometimes found in hardware stores for doing fiberglass epoxy repair work.
In use, we have found it is most convenient to place the Solar Oven on a 'Lazy Susan' type of rotary table, which makes manual tracking of the sun easier. The Solar Oven could also be built to follow the sun automatically by using the MTM Solar Tracker Circuit Kit. Another convenience is a large dial type oven thermometer placed inside the cooker to monitor progress. The adjustable interior oven rack is another nice touch.
We have had great success cooking with this design... including roasts, breads and casseroles. This project is definitely worth building!
As a point of interest: The basic plans for this Solar Oven originally appeared in a 1959 book "FUN with the SUN" by D. S. Halacy Jr. Although this particular book is no longer in print, used copies of it can still be found. Other projects in the book include a Solar Radio, Solar Cooker, Solar Hot Water Heater and several others. All the projects are interesting and well done... it's definitely worth picking up this book if you can find it.
Here is a photo of a Solar Cooker built from the
in the Halacy book. The construction materials are cardboard and
aluminum foil. It really works!
If you are interested in Solar Energy Projects be sure to visit the MTM Scientific Solar Tracker Customer Page for some great photos of what people are building.
Click Here to View other Interesting Projects at MTM Scientific, Inc.