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Solar Cookers

Energy Research Centre
Chandigarh, India


Classification of Solar Cookers
Parabolic Concentrator Cookers
Fresnel Reflector Cookers
Plane Mirror Concentrating Cookers
Transmitting Concentrator Cookers
Fresnel Lens Cookers
Principles of Paraboloid Cookers
Solar Box Cookers
Multiple Glass Box Cookers
Indirect Solar Cookers
Scheffler Community Cooker
Rating of Solar Cookers

chemical energy Energy stored in a substance and released
when the substance changes form or combines with
another substance.
compound parabolic concentrator (CPC) A device that
consists of two curved reflecting segments, which are
part of parabolas.
concave Surface curved like the interior of a circle or a
energy Capacity, or ability, to do work.
flux concentration Density of radiation falling on and/or
received by a surface or body.
parabola Plane curve formed by the intersection of a cone
with a plane that runs parallel to its side.
paraboloid A solid, some of whose plane sections are
pyranometer An instrument that measures solar radiation.
radiant energy Energy received in the form of photons or
electromagnetic radiation.
rim angle An angle measured at the focus from the axis to
the rim or a point where a paraboloid has been
solar concentrator A device that focuses the solar radiation
received on the receiver.
solarimeter An instrument that measures solar radiation.

solar insolation Intensity of solar radiation.

solar radiation A form of electromagnetic radiation.
specific heat capacity The amount of heat energy absorbed
or lost by a substance.
thermal energy Also known as heat; the kinetic energy
associated with rapid random motion.

Cooking is a very important and essential chore in
every household. Unfortunately, this activity is also a
major cause of deterioration of forest cover and soil
fertility. It is also responsible for drudgery and ill
health among women in developing countries. The
main reason is the use of traditional biomass fuels,
such as wood, cow dung, and agricultural residues,
in inefficient cookstoves, in poorly ventilated kitchens. It has been estimated that there are 180 polar, 75
aliphatic, and 225 aromatic hydrocarbon compounds in smoke produced from biomass. The
exposure of women and children to these carcinogenic, ciliotoxic, and mucus-coagulating agents
results in numerous diseases related to the respiratory
system, such as colds in adults and acute respiratory
infections in infants and young children.
It has been estimated that the use of solar cookers
by 2000 families for 10 years would mean a savings
of $0.1 million in terms of reduced firewood
consumption, $2 million worth of coal, or $0.25
million worth of kerosene oil.

1.1 History
Cooking with energy from the sun is an old concept.
There are many landmarks in the history of the
design of solar cookers.


Solar Cookers

The first attempt to cook fruits was made by Swiss

scientist Horace de Saussure in 1767. He achieved
881C in a hot box-type cooker. In 1837, astronomer
Sir John Frederick Herschel achieved 1161C in his
solar cooker and cooked meat and vegetables.
Muguste Mouchot designed a community cooker for
baking bread and potatoes for French troops in 1870.
The first manual on solar cookers, entitled Solar
Heat: A Substitute for Fuel in Tropical Countries,
was written by William Adam in 1878 in India.
Maria Telkes and George O. G. Lof performed
extensive studies on solar cooking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A significant attempt to introduce nearly 200 of
the concentrator-type solar cookers developed at the
University of Wisconsin was made in the states of
Sonora, Coahuila, and Oaxaca, Mexico, with the
help of the Rockefeller Foundation. After initial
problems, the cooker was redesigned and the
modified version of the cookers was used for many
One of the largest attempts to introduce solar
cookers was made in India in 1953, when 200,000
paraboloid concentrator-type solar cookers developed by M. L. Gai of NPL New Delhi were brought
in. The cooker consisted of a paraboloid reflector of
equation Y2 180X, with a focal length of 45 cm;
the reflector was spun from an aluminum sheet into
the desired shape and then anodized to protect it
from the weather and to maintain reflectivity. The
first commercial version of the hot box-type cooker
was designed by M. K. Ghosh in India in 1945.

1.2 Cooking Methods and Solar Cookers

The principal methods of cooking food can be
divided into four categories based on cooking
temperature and cooking media. These are boiling,
frying, baking, and roasting.
1.2.1 Boiling
Water is used as a medium in this type of cooking.
This sets the upper temperature limit. In this mode of
cooking, food is cooked at only 1001C. In cooking by
boiling, the mixture of food and water is brought to a
boil and allowed to simmer until completion of the
chemical reaction of the food. Due to the presence of
a large amount of water in this type of cooking, the
specific heat of the water and food mixture is
assumed to be equal to that of water, i.e., 4 kJ/kg
1C. Thus, once the boiling point is reached, not much
heat is required except that the heating rate should be
equal to the rate of heat loss. The thermal losses from

the cooking vessel area include the following: loss

due to vaporization of water (35%), heating of the
foodwater mixture to the boiling point (20%), and
convection losses from the vessel (45%). Box-type
solar cookers are suitable for this type of cooking.
1.2.2 Frying
Oil is used as a medium in this type of cooking. The
upper temperature limit of this mode is dependent on
the characteristics of the oil used. Cooking is
dependent on the boiling temperature of oil, which
is generally between 200 and 3001C. Frying is a highpower cooking process and cooking is normally
completed in a short time. Otherwise, food may
become burned. Concentrator cookers are suitable
for this type of cooking.
1.2.3 Roasting/Grilling
In this mode of cooking, heat is transferred to the
food primarily through radiation and to some extent
through convection. It is also a very high power
process. Concentrating cookers are suitable for this
type of cooking.
1.2.4 Baking
Baking is also a high-power cooking process in which
heat is transferred from the oven wall by convection
and radiation. Solar ovens are suitable for this type
of cooking.

Solar cookers can be classified into four main
categories: (1) concentrator cookers; (2) solar ovens;
(3) box cookers; and (4) indirect (combined) solar
cookers. These main categories can be further
subdivided into different categories, as shown in Fig. 1.

A parabolic solar cooker is a concave bowl-shaped
dish, whose inner surface is made of reflective
material. Sunlight falling on the inner surface is
focused onto a dark cooking pot that is suspended or
set on a stand in front of the cooker.
The power output of the cooker depends on the
size of the dish, the intensity of the solar radiation,
the reflectivity of the inner lining, and the perfection

Solar Cookers


Solar cookers


Box type











Steam Chemical CPC Organic








FIGURE 1 Types of solar cookers.

of the geometry. A concentrator cooker having 400

to 600 W output requires an area of 1 m2. Concentrator cookers work only in direct sunlight; they
work poorly under cloudy conditions. They require
constant tracking. They also become unstable under
windy conditions.
Maximum numbers of models of this category of
concentrating cooker have been developed, as focusing of solar radiation is achieved much better using
this geometry. However, constant tracking is required
for this type of cooker as these cookers are sensitive
to small changes in the relative position of the sun.
Fabrication of parabolic geometry is also difficult
compared to spherical geometry. In view of this,
large sizes are fabricated with small strips and careful
calculations are required to arrive at a suitable
geometry. Some simpler methods, such as wirereinforced concrete shells, soil cement depressions
in the ground, and papier-mache shells, have been
suggested. Parabolic concentrators can be classified

into two categories: rigid parabolas and folding

The majority of models that have been developed
are based on the rigid parabola design. This category
can be further subdivided into the following three
subcategories: shallow parabolic cookers, asymmetrical parabolic cookers, and deep parabolic cookers.

3.1 Shallow Parabolic Cookers

In this type of cooker, the focus is outside the rim of
the reflector.
A separate cradle-type stand is used to hold the
cooking vessel as well as the reflector. In some
designs, only the reflector is moved to track the sun.

3.2 Asymmetrical Parabolic Cookers

Asymmetrical parabolas are partial parabolas. This
configuration enables the cooking to be done as close


Solar Cookers

as possible to the vessel. In the former design, there is

a hole in the center of the reflector, where a stand is
inserted to support the cooking vessel.
In the deep asymmetrical parabolic configuration,
several small parabolic reflectors are arranged in an
asymmetrical parabolic configuration. See Figs. 2, 3,
and 4.

every 2030 min. These cookers were not very

successful, due to bright sunlight hitting the eyes
during cooking, the need to handle hot cooking vessels,
and the need for periodic tracking. See Figs. 5 and 6.


3.3 Deep Parabolic Cookers

Upper cooking vessel

Lower cooking vessel
Glass jar

In these cookers, the focus is within the rim of the

reflector. The cooking vessel is hung from a stand inside
the deep parabolic reflectors. Focusing is essential once





FIGURE 4 Asymmetrical parabolic cooker.

Tilting handle

Adjusting handle



Asymmetrical parabolic cooker.


Deep parabolic cooker.





Asymmetrical parabolic cooker.


Deep parabolic cooker.

Solar Cookers

3.4 Collapsible Parabolic Cookers



Parabolic cookers are difficult to transport due to

their bulky size. To facilitate easy transportation,
collapsible parabolic cookers were designed. Some of
the designs open like an umbrella. In others,
inflatable plastic configurations have been used.
Fluttering focus and unstable reflectors were significant impediments in the large-scale propagation
of these cookers. See Figs. 7, 8, and 9.

3.5 Cylindro-Parabolic Cookers

In cylindro-parabolic cookers, rays are focused in an
insulated box in which the cooking pots are placed.
One or more cylindro-parabolic mirrors can be used.
The tracking arrangement of these mirrors is such
that they focus solar radiation into the cavity of the
insulated box. See Figs. 10 and 11.



FIGURE 8 Collapsible parabolic cooker.


Adjusting arm


FIGURE 9 Collapsible parabolic cooker.

Collapsible parabolic cooker.

Cooking box


Cylindro-parabolic cooker.


Solar Cookers

Cooking box



FIGURE 13 Plane mirror concentrating cooker.

FIGURE 11 Cylindro-parabolic cooker.

Cooking pot



FIGURE 12 Fresnel reflector cooker.


The reflectors for these types of cookers are made by
using reflecting rings in a concentric Fresnel geometry. Any size of solar cooker can be made using this
technique. However, designing such cookers requires
considerable skill. See Fig. 12.

Plane mirrors have been used in different configurations, such as cones or folding plane stands, such that
these mirrors focus rays onto the cooking pot.
Provisions are made to tilt the mirror assembly to
focus the suns rays onto the cooking pot during
cooking. However, these designs did not become
popular due to the large size of the stands. See Fig. 13.

Water lens cooker.

These cookers can be divided into three categories:
water lens, dome lens, and Fresnel lens cookers.

6.1 Water Lens Cookers

These types of cookers concentrate light from above.
The concentrator in such cookers consists of either
plastic or glass concave sheets that are filled with
water or alcohol. In some designs, an additional lens
of small diameter is used to form a sharp focus. In a
modified version, a deflector is used to focus the light
onto the bottom of the pot. See Figs. 14 and 15.

6.2 Dome Lens Cookers

In such cookers, a dome comprising multiple cookers
is used. However, fabrication of an assembly of
lenses having a long focus is difficult.

Solar Cookers


Box-type solar cookers/ovens use the greenhouse
effect to cook food. A transparent glass or plastic
cover over the insulated box allows short-wave
radiation to pass through. The black-coated inner
box absorbs this radiation. With the increase in the
temperature of the inner tray, energy is reradiated at
longer wavelengths. The glass cover does not allow
long-wave radiation to pass through it. The temperature of the box increases and an equilibrium
temperature is reached, where the input of solar
energy is balanced by the heat losses. In order to
enhance the performance of this cooker, a plane
reflector is attached to the box. This type of cooker
can hold a number of pots of food. Food does
not burn, as it is cooked at low temperatures. Due to
its light weight, it is easy to carry. The cost of this
type of cooker is less than that of concentrating
The most popular box solar cooker was designed
by M. K. Ghosh, in 1945. It consists of a rectangular
aluminum tray. This tray is placed in a box made of
fiberglass-reinforced epoxy resin, wood, aluminum,
and a galvanized iron sheet. The space between the
aluminum tray and the outer box is filled with
insulation. The tray is covered with a movable
double-glass cover, attached by a hinge to one side
of the outer box. A flat glass mirror encased in a
fiberglass-reinforced epoxy resin shell is fixed to
serve as a reflector and also as a cover when the
cooker is closed. A hinge arrangement is provided to
tilt the reflector at different angles to focus solar
radiation into the tray. Cylindrical tight-fitting
vessels with flat bottoms and top lids are used for
cooking food.
The aluminum tray, the outside of the cooking
vessels, and the lids of the vessels are painted dull
black. A temperature of 1201C can be attained in this
type of cooker, which is sufficient for boiling-type
cooking. Keeping the general configuration intact, a
number of alternate materials have been used by
different designers to reduce costs and to use local
materials. Aluminized Mylar film/anodized aluminum sheets have been used for the reflector.
Agricultural residues, crushed newspapers, and other
materials have been used for insulation. Cardboard
has been used for the outer box and top lid. Plastic
sheets have been used in place of glass. Although
these cookers are cheap, food can be cooked properly
in these configurations at only climatically favorable
places. The lifetime of these cookers is shorter than
that of custom-made cookers. See Fig. 16.




FIGURE 16 Box-type solar cooker. (1) Handle; (2) outer box;

(3) insulation material (glass wall); (4) cover; (5) glass sheet; (6)
cooking container; (7) plane mirror; (8) mirror support; and (9)
hinged adjustor and guide.

9.1 Specifications of the Components

(Bureau of Indian Standards)
9.1.1 Cover Plate
The inner cover plate is constructed of toughened
glass 3 mm in thickness; the outer cover plate is
constructed of plane glass 4 mm in thickness. Spacing
is 10  2 mm. Solar transmittance should be 80% at
a minimum. The aperture area is 500  500 mm.
Tolerance is 75 mm.
9.1.2 Cooking Tray
The size should be 50075 mm  50075 mm 
8272 mm. The construction material is aluminum.
The sheet should be 0.5670.05 mm. The tray should
be painted in a matte black finish to withstand
temperatures up to 1751C. A scratch test should be
carried out on a sample 10  10 mm in area.
9.1.3 Cooker Box
The material thickness for the galvanized iron sheet
should be 4870.05 mm and that for the aluminum
sheet should be 5670.05 mm. The FRP should be
2 mm, at a minimum. The size of the cooker box is
60075  60075  50073 mm.
9.1.4 Gasket
The gasket should be constructed of neoprene or
silicon rubber and have a thickness of 3 mm.
9.1.5 Insulation
Insulation should consist of glass wool or mineral
wool in 50 mm thick uniform pads. The insulation
should be free of volatile material at 2001C.


Solar Cookers

9.1.6 Reflecting Mirror

The reflecting mirror should be 54075 mm 
54075 mm in size. The thickness should be 3 mm.
Solar reflection should be equal to 65%.
9.1.7 Cooking pots
The construction material for the cooking pots
should be aluminum or stainless steel. The depth of
the pots should be 6372 mm. For aluminum pots of
20075 mm or 15075 mm in diameter, the thickness
should be 1 mm. There should be three pots. For
stainless steel pots of 20075 mm or 15075 mm in
diameter, the thickness of the pots should be 50 mm.
Two pots are needed.
9.1.8 Wheels
The wheels should be 25 mm in diameter, with ball

9.2 Performance Evaluation of

Box-Type Cookers
Energy requirements are at a maximum during the
heating period in boiling-type cooking and only a
small amount of heat is required for the physical and
chemical changes involved in the cooking process.
Once the cooking temperature is attained, energy
is required only to compensate for thermal losses
and that required for physical and chemical changes
and so the cooking is practically independent of
the heat input rate. Thus, the time required to cook
the same food in different cookers will depend on the
heating period.
Two parameters have been recommended to
evaluate the performance of box-type solar cookers.
These are the first figure of merit, F1, and the second
figure of merit, F2. The first figure of merit depicts
optical efficiency and is the ratio of optical efficiency
to heat loss factor; it is evaluated by a stagnation test
without load. The second figure of merit, F2, gives an
indication of the heat-exchange efficiency factor (F0 )
and involves heating of a full load of water.
In a box-type solar cooker, there is no control over
its temperature and the operation is transient, in
contrast to a solar water heating system, where a
steady state is obtained by circulating water at
different temperatures through the tubes. A quasisteady state is achieved when a stagnation temperature is obtained. The heat loss factor at stagnation,
ULs, can be calculated.
Only cookers with good optical transmission of
glass covers and a low overall heat loss factor will

have a high value for the first figure of merit (F1).

However, good heat transfer to the vessel and its
contents will be ensured by the second figure of
merit, F2. Since there is no arrangement for the flow
of liquid to obtain a steady-state withdrawal of
energy from the cooker, as is the case with solar
water heaters, it is difficult to measure the heatexchange efficiency factor F0 between the cooker
plate and the contents of the pot. A factor, F2, is
proposed for this purpose; it includes F0 as well as
ULS and CR for the cooker utensil combination.
During both tests, the mirror booster is not used
and the measurements are started approximately 2 h
before solar noon.
To estimate the first figure of merit, F1, a solar
cooker with utensils is kept in the sunshine and the
rise in plate temperature, the solar radiation intensity, and the plate temperature are recorded. When
the stagnation temperature is reached, the ambient
temperature and solar insulation are measured. The
figure of merit, F1, is calculated by
Tps  Ta
F1 o
where Zo is the optical efficiency; IGs is the insulation
on the horizontal surface at the time the stagnation
temperature is reached (in watts per square meter);
ULS is the heat loss factor at stagnation; Tps is the
stagnation plate temperature (in degrees centigrade);
and Ta is the plate temperature (in degrees centigrade).
To evaluate the second figure of merit, F2, the
solar cooker without the reflector but with a full
load of water and utensils is kept in the sun. Initial
water is kept at an average temperature between
ambient and the boiling point. Temperature and
solar radiation are measured until the temperature
reaches 951C.
The second figure of merit, F2, is calculated using
the equation

F1 MCw
1  1=F1 Tw2  Ta =IG 
1  1=F1 Tw1  Ta =IG 
At2  t1
where F1 is the first figure of merit from the
stagnation test; (MC)w is the product of the mass
of water and specific heat (in joules per degrees
centigrade); A is the aperture area of the cooker of
the cover plate (in square meters); t2t1 is the time
taken for heating from Tw1 and Tw2 (in seconds); Ta
is the average air temperature during the time period
t2t1 (in watts per square meter); and IG is the
radiation during the time period t2t1 (in watts per
square meter).

Solar Cookers

It has been assumed that the global radiation, IG,

remains constant during the test. This assumption
introduces some error into the data.

9.3 Testing Methods for Box-Type Solar

Cookers (Bureau of Indian Standards)
The following tests have been recommended by the
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for evaluating the
durability and thermal performance of box-type
solar cookers. These tests include leakage tests,
breakage tests, reflectivity tests, exposure tests, and
thermal performance tests.
9.3.1 Leakage Tests Cooking Tray Leakage Test
1. The cooking tray should be dismantled from
the main body.
2. The cooking tray is filled with water; after 1 h,
the joints of the tray should be examined for any
signs of leakage. Rubber Gasket Leakage Test
1. A piece of paper is inserted between the gasket
and the cover plate in at least four positions along
each side of the cooker.
2. The paper used should be 50 mm wide and
0.01 mm thick.
3. The cover plate should be properly tightened.
4. The paper should exhibit a firm resistance to
withdrawal by hand at all points tested. Cover Plate Leakage Test Leakage from
the cover plate may occur from the upper and lower
sides. Therefore, the cooker should be tested using
the following two tests:
i. Leakage test for the upper side of the cover
1. The cover plate should be properly tightened.
2. A thin film of water should be poured onto
the cover plate.
3. After 1 h, the cover plate should be examined
for any signs of water having entered
between the two glass sheets.
ii. Leakage test for the lower side of the cover
1. The cooking pots are filled with water and
kept in the cooking tray.


2. The cover plate is tightened.

3. The cooker is placed out in the open for
exposure to the suns rays for 45 h.
4. Then, the cooker should be placed in the
shade for 15 min to allow any vapor to
5. The cover plate is examined for any signs of
water vapor entry between the inside and
outside of the cover plate.
9.3.2 Rain Penetration Test Apparatus The basic apparatus is a 5 mm
spray nozzle and a balance. Procedure
1. The closed cooker is sprayed with 10 liters of
water on all sides using a spray nozzle at a pressure
of 0.1 MPa.
2. Spray nozzles are directed downward from the
cooker top and also toward the four corners of the
3. The cooker should be weighed before the test.
4. After the test, the external surfaces of the cooker
are wiped dry and the cooker should be reweighed.
5. During wiping, transport, and placement on the
weighing machine, the cooker should remain in a
horizontal position.
6. The balance used to weigh the cooker should
have an accuracy of at least 20 g.
7. The permissible gain in weight should not be
more than 30 g.
9.3.3 Slam Tests
This test is performed to ensure that the mirror or
cover plate will not be damaged when allowed to fall
from the fully opened position as given below: Cover Plate Slam Test With the lid open,
the cover plate is lifted as high as possible and then it
is allowed to fall to a closed position. There should
be no damage to the glass sheets. Slam Test Mirror The lid should be held
at near vertical and is allowed to fall to a closed
position. There should be no damage to the mirror,
the cover plate, or any other part of the cooker.
9.3.4 Mirror Reflectivity Test Apparatus The basic apparatus consists
of a photovoltaic-based solarimeter and a stand for
mounting a sample piece of the reflecting mirror. The


Solar Cookers

stand should have a vertical pointer of 15 cm in

height and an arrangement for mounting the
solarimeter in a plane parallel to the plane of stand
and at a height of 30 cm. Procedure
1. The stand is adjusted for normal incidence such
that there is no shadow of the vertical pointer.
2. This
(540 mm  540 mm) is placed on the stand in an
open space. The open space should be free of any
shadows and it should not receive any reflecting
radiation from the surroundings.
3. The solarimeter should be placed in the stand
provided for it in such a way that the sensor is near
normal (7101) to the suns rays. The solarimeter (R1)
is then read.
4. The position of the solarimeter is changed in
such a way that the sensor now faces the mirror at a
near normal angle. The solarimeter (R2) is then read.
5. The reflectivity of the mirror is calculated as
follows: R R2/R1.
6. The test should be repeated six times at 10 min
7. The average of the six values is calculated. This
value will represent the reflectivity of the mirror.
8. The permitted conditions of solar radiation
during the test are that it should be greater than
600 W/m2.

9.3.5 Exposure Test Apparatus

The basic apparatus consists of a solar pyranometer,
along with recording devices. Procedure
1. The solar cooker is left to stagnate, which may
lead to the following types of possible degradation:
Breakdown of rubber or plastic material;
Outgassing from the insulating material;
Discoloration or peeling of black paint on the
cooking pots and cooking tray; or
Deposition of water vapor, dust, or any other
material inside the double-glass lid.
2. The solar cooker is left in an unshaded area for
at least 30 days having irradiation levels of at least
14 MJ/m2 on the horizontal surface.
3. These days need not be consecutive.
4. The cooking pots inside the cooker should be
5. The mirror is placed vertically and the cooker
should be oriented to face south.

9.3.6 Cooking Tray Paint Peeling Test

A 10 mm  10 mm area of painted surface is selected
from squares of I mm  I mm by scratching horizontal
and vertical lines with a pointed tool. The surface portion is covered with adhesive cellophane tape and then
the tape is removed with a jerk. The test surface should
be inspected and there should be no peeling of paint.
9.3.7 Transmittance Test for Cover Plate
The solar radiation is measured with a pyranometer/
photovoltaic-based solarimeter directly (without the
glass) and then measured with the cover plate above
the pyranometer and solarimeter. The ratio of the
two readings should be at least 0.8.
9.3.8 Thermal Shock Test for Gasket/Sealant
The gasket/sealant of 10 cm in length should be kept
in an electric oven at a temperature of 1501C for 4 h.
It should be cooled in air for 2 h, again placed in the
oven at 1501C for 4 h, and then again cooled in air.
After the test, the gasket and sealant should exhibit
no cracking or brittleness.

9.4 Thermal Performance Test

The thermal performance test should be conducted
under the conditions given below; values of F1and F2
are then calculated.
9.4.1 Testing of Box-Type Cookers Stagnation Temperature Condition Apparatus The apparatus consists of a pyranometer and
a platinum resistance thermometer along with a
recording device. Procedure The test for evaluating F1
should be carried out as follows in the morning
hours before 10:00 a.m. so that the stagnation
temperature is achieved near solar noon.
1. The solar cooker is placed in full sun.
2. The reflector of the solar cooker is covered with
a black cloth.
3. The temperature inside the solar cooker is
measured using RTD for a continuous 5 min interval.
4. When the cooker temperature has reached a
steady state, the final temperature inside the cooker
(Tps), the corresponding ambient air temperature
(Ta), and solar insolation are noted.
The steady-state conditions are defined as a
10 min period when:
1. The cooker temperature is constant within

Solar Cookers

2. Solar radiation is constant within 20 W/m2;

3. Ambient temperature is constant within 0.21C;
4. Solar radiation is greater than 600 W/m2.


8. As per the BIS standard, the value of F1 should

be 40.12 for grade A cookers and 40.11 for grade
B cookers.

9.4.2 Heat-Up Condition

The figure of merit F2 should be estimated as follows.

Theoretical analysis as well as experimental

evaluation shows that it not possible to achieve these
values with the BIS-proposed specifications. However, these values can be achieved by increasing
optical efficiency and decreasing the overall heat loss
coefficient. Apparatus The apparatus consists of a

pyranometer and a platinum resistance thermometer,
along with a recording device.



The performance factor F1 is calculated using

Eq. (16). Procedure The empty cooking pots are

weighed and then filled with water at 501F (151C).
They are reweighed and the mass of water is
calculated. The pots are placed in the cooker from
which the mirror has been removed or covered. A
temperature probe of RTD is placed in the largest of
the cooking pots with the measuring tip submerged in
the water. The temperature probe lead should be
sealed where it leaves the cooking pots and the cooker.
The ambient temperature and wind speed are
measured throughout the test. The test should start
in the morning between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m. of
local solar time. If radiation and temperature are
measured by spot checks, these should be no more
than 5 min apart.
Constant monitoring at 30 s intervals or less is
desirable, with averages of radiation recorded over
2 min intervals. The following measurements should
be taken:

It is difficult to cook food in a single reflector boxtype solar cooker at higher latitudes during the
winter season due to higher losses resulting from low
ambient temperatures. To overcome this problem,
folding two-step asymmetrical reflector box solar
cookers have been designed. These consist of a hot
box and two plane mirrors fixed at an angle of 13.51.
The hot box has double glazing at the top and
insulation on the bottom and sides. At the end of
cooking, mirrors can be folded onto the top of the
hot box. See Figs 17 and 18.
Solar radiation through the aperture, AL1, AL2,
and AL3, can be calculated by the following

1. Water temperature is measured along with the

exact time that that measurement was recorded.
2. The data recording is continued until the water
temperature exceeds 951C.
3. Initial and final temperature/time data pairs are
chosen. The initial temperature should be between
60 and 651C and the final temperature should be
between 90 and 951C. These are denoted Tw1, and
Tw2, respectively, and the corresponding times are t1
and t2, respectively.
4. The average air temperature (Ta) between times
t1 and t2 is calculated.
5. The radiation recorded between the two points
should not have varied by more than 710 W/m2 and
should always have exceeded 600 W/m2.
6. The average radiation (Ig) over the time t1 and
t2 is calculated.
7. The second figure of merit, F2, is calculated as
per Eq. (17).

AL1 B sinf:


AL2 B siny1  f:


AL3 siny2  f:


y1 p=3 2=3f:


y2 y1  13:5:


See Fig. 19.

Hinged joint

Reflecting mirror

Adjusting arms
Transparent mirror


Multiple glass box cooker.


Solar Cookers

Reflecting mirrors

Reflecting mirrors

Cooking box

Cooking box


Multiple glass box cooker.

Insulated box

Cooking utensil
AL 3


Focal tube

AL 2

AL 1



Depiction of the geometry used to determine the

solar radiation through the aperture in multiple glass box cookers.


There are no provisions in the conventional box-type
or concentrator-type cookers for cooking inside the
kitchen or during the period when solar radiation is
not available. A number of strategies have been used
for special types of indirect solar cookers.

11.1 Organic Fluid Cookers

In this type of cooker, organic fluid is heated using a
cylindrical parabolic reflector/CPC/flat-plate collector outside the kitchen. The hot fluid is stored inside
the kitchen using the thermosphon principle for
cooking applications.


A typical configuration of an organic fluid cooker.

A typical configuration of this type of cooker is

shown in Fig. 20.

11.2 Steam Cookers

This type of cooker is similar to the organic fluid
cooker, except that low-pressure steam is used as the
working fluid. Using flat-plate or concentrating
reflectors, low-pressure steam is produced. Food is
cooked in a double-jacketed vessel.

11.3 Chemical Cookers

These cookers are based on a reversible chemical
reaction between a working fluid (gas or vapors) and

Solar Cookers


A typical configuration of a Scheffler community


a chemical compound. The reaction is endothermic

in one direction and exothermic in the reverse
direction. Working fluid becomes desorbed by solar
energy and is stored for later use. When heat is
required, the desorbed fluid is again allowed to
adsorb in the chemical. The liberated heat is used for


This cooker has a 6.5 m2 parabolic reflector dish,
which is placed nearly 3 m away from the north-facing
wall. The reflector reflects and concentrates solar
radiation onto a secondary reflector through an
opening in the wall. The secondary reflector deflects
the radiation to the bottom of the cooking vessel.
Temperatures of up to 4001C can be attained. Cooking
can be carried out in a conventional manner in the
kitchen. The reflector is tracked with a clockwork
mechanism to ensure continuous cooking. There is an
arrangement for seasonal adjustment of the reflector.
Figure 21 shows the configuration of the cooker.


At the Third International Conference on Solar
Cooker Use and Technology, the question of rating
solar cookers based on field tests for comparing
different models and types of solar cookers was
discussed. It was proposed that apart from thermal
performance, there are other important parameters
that need to be considered from the users point of
view. The selection process in the field should take
into consideration the particulars of the sites,
conditions, and consumers. The rating criteria should
include, in addition to thermal performance, critical


factors such as the following: (1) cost, (2) safety, (3)

heating and cooking capacity, (4) convenience, (5)
durability, (6) ease of maintenance, (7) stability in
the wind, and (8) operating instructions on the use of
the cooker.
For wider acceptability of the solar cooker, the cost
should be reasonable so that ordinary users in
developing countries can afford it. It should meet
the cooking needs of an average family. It should be
convenient to cook food in the cooker, as women do
not prefer a gadget that is cumbersome to use. The
equipment should be safe to work with and should
not cause burn injuries while one is cooking or
removing cooked food from the apparatus. As solar
cooking is done outdoors, the construction material
should be durable so that the cooker may last for a
minimum of 810 years. Cookers should be easy to
maintain as there is a lack of availability of technically
trained personnel for maintenance in developing
countries and there is a high cost of maintenance in
developed countries. A maintenance manual should
be provided. Under windy conditions, the cooker can
be blown off or fall, resulting in breakage of the glass
components and spoiling of the food. There should be
provisions for holding the cooker steady under windy
conditions. A complete operating manual should be
provided in written text as well as in pictorial form to
overcome language barriers.


Solar Cells Solar Cooling, Dehumidification, and
Air-Conditioning Solar Detoxification and Disinfection Solar Distillation and Drying Solar Energy,
History of Solar Fuels and Materials Solar Heat
Pumps Solar Ponds Solar Thermal Energy,
Industrial Heat Applications Solar Thermal Power
Generation Women and Energy: Issues in Developing Nations Wood in Household Energy Use

Further Reading
Blum, B. (ed.). (1989). The Solar Box Cooker Handbook. Solar
Box Cooker International, Sacramento, CA.
Bureau of Indian Standards (1992). Indian Standard No. IS 13429,
Solar Cooker, Parts 1, 2, and 3.
Duffie, J. A., Log, G. I. G., and Back, B. (1953). Laboratory and
field studies in plastic reflector solar cookers. In Proceedings of
the United Nations Conference on New Sources of Energy E 35587, Vol. 5, pp. 339346.
Garg, H. P., Bandyopadhyay, and Datta, G. (1985). Mathematical
modelling of the performance of a solar cooker. Appl. Energy
14, 233239.


Solar Cookers

Garg, H. P., and Kandpal, T. C. (1999). Laboratory Manual of

Solar Thermal Experimentation. Narora.
Ghai, M. L. (1953). Solar heat for cooking. J. Sci. Industr. Res.
12A, 117124.
Ghosh, M. K. (1945). Solar cooker. Bull. Inst. Eng. 14, 17.
Habeebullah, M. B., Khalifa, A. M., and Olwi, I. (1995). The oven
receiver: An approach toward the revival of concentrating solar
cookers. Solar Energy 54, 227237.
Kundapur, A. (1998). Review of solar cooker designs. TIDE 8.

Lof, G. O. G. (1963). Recent investigation in the use of solar

energy for cooking. Solar Energy 7, 125132.
Mullick, S. C., Khandpal, T. C., and Saxena, A. K. (1987).
Thermal test procedure for box-type solar cookers. Solar
Energy 39, 353360.
Shukla, J. K., and Patel R. C. (1990). Study of connective heat
losses in solar cookers. In Proceedings of the National Solar
Energy Convention (Udaipur, A. N. Mathur, and N. S.
Rathore, Eds.). Himanshu Publications.