I’ve been experimenting with a nice panel solar cooker for the past week and, so far, the results are impressive. Called the CooKit, it was developed in 1994 by a group of engineers and solar cooking enthusiasts associated with Solar Cookers International and based on a design by Roger Bernard.
It has a couple of nice features:
- It produces ample heat to cook rice and simple casseroles.
- When you fold it up it takes up no more space than an album (do I have to explain what an album is for the youngsters out there?).
- A flat area on the base of the CooKit makes weighting it down with rocks easy. This is really important in windy places.
- All you need to build it is a knife, cardboard, aluminum foil and glue.
As with all panel solar cookers you need an black enamelware pot wrapped in a turkey roasting bag to hold in the heat. You ain’t gonna deep fry things with a panel cooker, but they are great for slow-cooked crock pot type dishes. The only disadvantage to this design is having to cut curves, but with a sharp knife it wasn’t difficult. The other improvement would be a stand to lift the pot off the aluminum foil for more efficiency and to keep the cooker un-scuffed. When panel cooker season returns to LA in the springtime, you can bet I’ll be making a lot of rice with this thing.
Detailed instructions for how to build a CooKit can be found here.
Also, Mrs. Homegrown and I are writing a new book and we’d like to include some plans for solar cookers (any kind). If you’ve got a favorite DIY model, leave a comment with a link.
Another view with curious Doberman in the foreground: