The San Diego Solar Cooking Club Message Board › Solar Cooker designs, present and future...

Solar Cooker designs, present and future...

A former member
Post #: 22
This entire year has become one of fascination with Solar Cooking and, in particular, researching different Solar Cooker designs on-line for me. smile Can't begin to tell you how much pleasure I have drawn from revisiting all of the different - and vastly innovative means folks have come up with so far to permit us to enjoy further exploiting this most awesome "gift" of the universe - sunshine! (Shoot, it has even led me into toying around with solar energy on a very small scale). I've read we enjoy over 263 sunny days a year here in SoCal, but would be surprised if that isn't a little short - particularly if you live around 25 or 30 miles or so inland as my family does here in East County. cool

I still believe one of the most effective and inspiring designs I've seen for a reflector cooker to date is the ASSC by our member Jim La Joie - but I continue to research and mentally "toy" with other designs as well. For me the "jaw-dropper" about Jim's design is found in how easy it is to allow for change in the sun angle by simply adjusting the reflectors rather than "tilting" the whole box. shock

I've already kind of "homed in" on a pair of currently commercial products that serve different purposes/"types" of Solar Cooking which, no doubt, will soon find their way into our back yard - but our ASSC(s) will always go with us for camping, picnics, etc., while continuing their use out in the back yard.

Today, my on-line "research" led me back to the Solar Cookers World Network site, where I found an article on an exciting emerging technology our kids and grandkids will no doubt pursue in coming years - it is based on a design by MIT professor David Wilson and involves using latent heat storage so folks will be able to continue to "Solar Cook" long after the sun goes down. put up an article on it entitled:

A Solar Grill Prototype for a Greener Tomorrow

Now, why is old -=dave=- telling us all of this? Just so I could post the following line....

The future of Solar Cooking is bright indeed! <pun intended> wink

(OK, put away the torches and pitchforks now).....

Hemet, CA
Post #: 1,201

Thanks for posting this. I am studying these various kinds of solar cookers also. My daily workhorse is a reflectorless box cooker I fitted into a clean steel trash can.

In Hemet, I can cook with this from mid-March to end of September. Yuma, Arizona has the most sunny days per year, but Hemet is close behind. My box cooker is usually at 200 degrees every day whether I remember to cook or not.

I think I will need Jim La Joie's cooker for the other months due to the reflectors full range of motion while the sun is too low in the sky for my box cooker to capture enough heat. I am currently experimenting with a box cooker that fits on my dash. I am getting 200-250 with only a lidded canning jar on dash. To see what temp I would get with it in a box cooker I tried it and got 276 degrees for at least two hours. My goal with the dashboard cooker is to have it cooking while I am a homeschool play date.

Today, I am teaching an introduction to solar cooking at the Valle Vista library. I will be sharing the laziest solar cooker I have ever built and giving a tour of it from the inside out. I am handicapped and every step hurts. I need a cooker that can sit outside so I only have food to carry in and out. I made a blog about it because I needed to sort out my thoughts for the presentation and also wanted to post the notes for anyone interested.
A former member
Post #: 23
Thank you for responding Amirah - will look forward to hearing how you made out with the "dash board" design! smile

The two commercial cookers I alluded to in the original post were the ever popular Global Solar Oven (GSO, and Cantinawest's "Solar Burner". Have been intending all year to purchase them as a kind of early Christmas gift our entire family will enjoy the benefit from. I am, however, "warming up" to a 3rd candidate...

During this year I have developed a growing on-line friendship with a family down in the South Houston, TX, area - (they enjoy almost as many great solar cooking days as we do here in SoCal). His family chose to go with what he calls his "S.O.S." oven. Actually, the SOS comes from the Solar Oven Society and the actual name of the product is their "Sport" Solar Oven. He and his wife use two of them *very* regularly to cook solar meals for his own extended family.

Have to admit, I am kind of hoping someone in the Club owns one of these and can comment. I know several have the GSO - have seen it it operation - but the increased capacity of the Sport is very attractive to me. (I generally do my outdoor cooking for 8 of us, including my daughter's family of 5, the wife and I, and her Mother who *loves* it). wink

***HAVE to repeat***
As mentioned earlier - NONE of them are as handy, nor as portable as our ASSC(s) - (Thanks again JIM! I still haven't built my Jumbo yet). I can fold up the ASSC, put the nuts/bolts/clothes pins in a baggy, and stow it behind the back seat of my pickup! cool Extended power outage? Having to "bug out" to avoid a California wildfire? Pffft! WE are READY! wink
Jim La J.
user 4819687
Bonsall, CA
Post #: 76
Hi Dave,
Thanks for the good words about the ASSC. And there are a plethora of solar designs. Amazing how easy it is to extract power from the sun.
FYI, the ASSC will be entered in an international solar cooker contest occurring this year in India. The year long contest will evaluate the efficiency of the cooker as well as the cost and simplicity of construction. And ability to make it from locally available materials.
Hemet, CA
Post #: 1,266
I am looking forward to attending a ASSC worskhop.

And now I am looking forward to hearing the results of the International Solar Cooker Contest. Can you please give a web link to this? And when are the results expected to be announced.


My very humble reflectorless box cooker is made of one layer of cardboard lined with one layer of aluminum foil placed inside of a steel trash can and covered with glass. I use it nearly every day.

It usually reaches 200 F and sometimes 250 F.

Lately I have been cooking when the oven is at 150 F. I understand 150 F is not a cooking temperature, but I also know the temperature is higher inside the cook pot so I put a thermometer in an empty lidded canning jar while the oven was holding steady at 200 F to see how much higher the temperature was. An empty lidded canning jar temperature was 276 F.

After seeing 276 F in a 200 F oven, I understood I can solar cook (in a lidded cook pot or lidded jar) when my oven was only reaching 150 F.

I live in Hemet. It is mostly sunny days here, but lately I have been surprised with a lot cloudy days.

I have cooked beef roast, hard-boiled eggs, lots of baked veggies, beans and etc.. without any problem while my oven is only reading 150 F.

I found that pizza crust, cakes and other unlidded foods need 200 F to cook properly.

If you want to see detailed pictures of this go to
The purpose of the "trashcan cooker" is to demonstrate the least amount of effort and money needed to solar cook.
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