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Study about the design of a solar cooker
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Nacho_nd



Joined: 26 Feb 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

Hello everyone

I am a engineering student that has to design a solar cooker. I need the help of people with more experience than mine to answer these questions:

What do you prefer in a solar cooker: portability, power, inexpensive?

Which kind of solar cooker do you like?

If you have a solar cooker, what charasteristic do you think that could be better (easy to clean, power, assembly, flexibility....)

What innovation would you like on it?
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Joined: 25 Oct 2006
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Location: Seattle, Washington

PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One interesting thing to study would be to see if you could make a panel cooker such as the CooKit large enough to cooker three our four pots of food at a time. http://solarcooking.wikia.com/CooKit

We have a few other research topics here: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/research

Tom Sponheim
Solar Cookers International
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Nacho_nd



Joined: 26 Feb 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

webmaster wrote:
One interesting thing to study would be to see if you could make a panel cooker such as the CooKit large enough to cooker three our four pots of food at a time. http://solarcooking.wikia.com/CooKit

We have a few other research topics here: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/research

Tom Sponheim
Solar Cookers International


Thanks for your advice.

Readers please, answer something.
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SharonID



Joined: 24 Jun 2007
Posts: 74
Location: northern Idaho

PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:41 am    Post subject: Re: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

Nacho_nd wrote:
Hello everyone

What do you prefer in a solar cooker: portability, power, inexpensive?


For me, portability and inexpensive are more important. I don't mind waiting a little longer (or starting a little earlier) to get the food (and I like many foods which are best when cooked slowly). I think for a lot of people those two would be important, since the more economically disadvantaged someone is, the more s/he can benefit from solar cooking, but it has to be inexpensive to start. On the other hand, the culture your cooker(s) will be used in plays a part, too. For cultures whose food-base is things that need high heat to cook (certain breads, like pita, deep-fried and stir-fried foods) power assumes a much greater importance.

As far as portability goes, if someone is only going to cook at home, it is not as big an issue (although compact storage can be a big issue for many people, unless a cooker is built to stay out in all weather, like the wall ovens and some of the wooden cookers). If someone wants to cook at work or is living a nomadic lifestyle or on the move because of being homeless or a refugee, portability is essential.

Nacho_nd wrote:
Which kind of solar cooker do you like?


I love my HotPot. It does such a great job on up to a good gallon of food, holds heat well, and looks so beautiful. I also love my little EZ-3 Solar Cooker: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/EZ-3_Solar_Cooker It only cooks up to a quart of food, but it does it very dependably and reasonably efficiently for a panel cooker (it's really kind of a hybrid box-panel cooker), and they are so easy to make. Ideal for kids and single people (including elderly widows and widowers) and with three or four EZ-3s, you could do much of the cooking for a couple or small family, and it foods flat for transport and storage. I also like it because (for a cooker that requires an oven bag) the oven bags last much longer when used to enclose the whole cooker. I also love the Easy Lid style box oven I made, which bakes almost all our bread from mid-spring until (skies permitting) sometime in October. I also like the one I rigged up out of our old kettle grill that can crank out a plate of nachos or a quesadilla in ten minutes or less. The Molly Baker is cool, too. I like all kinds of panel, funnel, and box variations. (I don't have any parabolic experience, though that may change soon if my friend upgrades and gives me her old satellite dish.)

Nacho_nd wrote:
If you have a solar cooker, what charasteristic do you think that could be better (easy to clean, power, assembly, flexibility....)


Easy to clean is good. One thing you might consider, if you are working with cardboard, is making a replaceable bottom for your cooker. Just trace the bottom of your cooker on a piece of cardboard and foil it (you should still also foil the inside of the bottom of the cooker). Just set in in the bottom of the cooker. Then if you have a bad spill or the foil becomes dull over time, you can take out that one and make a new one. I did it in my box oven and in some of my other cookers.

I do wish the back of the HotPot reflector were a little higher, because I live so far north (47 degrees), though I can boost the back by clipping on a car windshield shade to increase reflector height at the back in the off-season or on marginal days. I guess that's another thing to take into account, depending on where your design is most likely to be used. Panel cookers for regions relatively far to the north or south need higher backs. Wind in your region is another consideration. I love the HotPot, but it is very hard to control if there's too much wind (what I get for living high on a ridge that faces a fifty mile open stretch of the prevailing winds Wink). One nice thing about the EZ-3 is that is takes wind well if you just block it in with a couple of chunks of or water bottles or something so it can't blow clean away, but at least it
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Last edited by SharonID on Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your comments here, Sharon. Can you send me or post a photo of the HotPot with the windshield shade clipped onto it? This would be a good addition to the HotPot page: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/HotPot

Of course you can also add the photo yourself to that page.

Thanks,

Tom
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Nacho_nd



Joined: 26 Feb 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:39 am    Post subject: Re: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

Very complete information Sharon.
Thank you very much

The team of design in which i am, has decided our solar cooker must be parabolic.
Could users give me information about its use, advantagies, disadvantagies and what do you think that could be better?

Thanks for your answer
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have a large section on parabolic cookers here:

http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Parabolic_reflectors

Tom
SCI
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SharonID



Joined: 24 Jun 2007
Posts: 74
Location: northern Idaho

PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:02 am    Post subject: Re: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

Nacho_nd wrote:
Very complete information Sharon.
Thank you very much

The team of design in which i am, has decided our solar cooker must be parabolic.
Could users give me information about its use, advantagies, disadvantagies and what do you think that could be better?

Thanks for your answer


Hey, it's nice to have someone show up with questions. It's been kind of quiet around here, though there's always an ebb and flow in these things.

I don't have any parabolic experience yet, but that may change soon, since I think I finally found a friend who wants to get rid of a small satellite dish. I'm going to try the type of cooker you can see here: http://mealwormfarm.com/hqsolar/hqsolargrillonline.html

For the kind of cooking I like to do (I like to use a variety of pots, for example), a grill for the pots to go on works better than some of the frames to hold pots that are more common in many parabolic cookers, and the three point suspension for the dish looks manageable, especially considering the winds that can blow up at my place. It all stays nice and low (I'm short Wink).

I do know that more care is needed when working with (and storing!) parabolic cookers. Unlike most panel cookers and box ovens, parabolic cookers can create smoke, burn food, start fires, cause severe burns, blindness, etc. They are more powerful in terms of concentrating the sun's fire, so it becomes more like dealing with fire in terms of the care you need to take, but the cookers are very effective when used properly, especially if the regional food culture needs that kind of concentrated heat. Programs that use parabolic cookers should take the need for extra safety training into account, but most modern programs do. I've heard some sad stories of burned buildings and injuries from much earlier attempts to introduce parabolic cookers to people who had no idea how to safely use or store them and not enough training went with the cookers. Nowadays, though, parabolic cookers have a strong place in modern solar cooking technology and the training has improved along with the cooker designs.

One thing that is sometimes considered to be a disadvantage of parabolics is the need for frequent re-aiming. If you can come up with something that makes them need re-aiming less often or a design that makes the tracking process especially simple so it's quicker to reset them or something to help that process, that's one direction to look if you're looking for an area with room for innovation.

I wish you every success with your project.

Regards,
SharonID
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Nacho_nd



Joined: 26 Feb 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

Very good information. That is the kind of information that i am looking for.
Thank you
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Carlo_an



Joined: 16 Mar 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

Nacho_nd wrote:
Hello everyone

I am a engineering student that has to design a solar cooker. I need the help of people with more experience than mine to answer these questions:

What do you prefer in a solar cooker: portability, power, inexpensive?
I prefer power, the low temperature is healthy, but I want more power and so cook things that are not in pots.
I use to cook with a big pot, everyones eats the same.

Which kind of solar cooker do you like?

I like fresnel cookers.

If you have a solar cooker, what charasteristic do you think that could be better (easy to clean, power, assembly, flexibility....)

It is continuously assembled in the garden. Only assembled once.

What innovation would you like on it?


Get high power is very important for me. Simply more powerful solar cookers.


The best wishes for your study
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For my own use, I'm not that thrilled with powerful cookers. I have one and never use it because you have to pay attention to what your cooking in it since foods can burn. I much prefer using a HotPot or a Fun-Panel where food basically can't overcook. Everyone has different requirements and every design has advantages and disadvantages.

Tom
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Waterhawk



Joined: 17 Sep 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

Nacho_nd wrote:
Hello everyone

I am a engineering student that has to design a solar cooker. I need the help of people with more experience than mine to answer these questions:

What do you prefer in a solar cooker: portability, power, inexpensive?

I prefer inexpensive. This technology is very interesting in non developed countries. Many NGO need low cost solar cookers to pasteurize water.

Which kind of solar cooker do you like?

I like hot pot, because these persons can cook while working and is very interesting.

If you have a solar cooker, what charasteristic do you think that could be better (easy to clean, power, assembly, flexibility....)

Soap is a limited resource in many poor countries, mainly Africa.

What innovation would you like on it?


A integrated system to know when pasteurized water is ready.



Thanks for your study and good luck for your team.
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Nacho_nd



Joined: 26 Feb 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

I have decided make a short poll to get fast and easy information. It is short, less than a minute. It is anonymous.


http://www.esurveyspro.com/Survey.aspx?id=dde67623-5760-4a34-a48a-be5f45ee8dda


Thanks for your answers
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karens



Joined: 06 Jan 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:01 am    Post subject: Re: Study about the design of a solar cooker Reply with quote

I prefer power to make bbq. I think this could make solar cooking very popular.

I want a certain power, so the kind does not mind.

I want more flexibility, I always have to use the same pot.

I want cook more times, that the light be enough here.

Good job!
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Pat McArdle



Joined: 21 Feb 2009
Posts: 2
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:29 pm    Post subject: solar cooker survey Reply with quote

I filled out your survey but wanted to add a bit of information. There is a group of engineering students at UC Berkeley also doing research this year (spring 2009) on box solar cookers. They are looking at designs currently used in India although I believe that parabolic solar cookers are actually more widely used in that country. There are also two students (MIT and Wellesley) researching a parabolic solar cooker made of bamboo, mylar and yak wool in Tibet. I can put you in touch with them if you are interested.
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