If you’ve ever seen a solar oven your first impression would be that it is powered by some solar panels, right? Well not necessarily. Solar powered ovens are not those which would be used to replace your in-home oven, and they are no more complex than using a traditional oven – they are simply designed differently. Solar ovens, also known as solar cookers, can be used for various outdoor cooking requirements without the need for electricity, wood or fossil fuel – which increases the overall efficiency compared to a more traditional propane grill. A popular solar cooker is the CooKit, which utilizes a piece of cardboard that is lined in foil and works as a reflector to generate enough heat to cook the food.
Believe it or not, most solar ovens can take the sunlight and generate hundreds of watts of electricity by changing the light into heat, which in turn cooks the food. Not only is this method safe for cooking your food outdoors, but it also teaches you to eliminate fuels and the need for electricity – which will make your transition into the off grid lifestyle that much more seamless.
Solar ovens and cookers come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging from a very basic box shaped unit to more complex ovens which can hold multiple large sized pots. Regardless of the variation, they all function the same. Can you think of a more natural way of cooking your food? Once you’ve had the chance to experience using the sun’s solar energy to cook a meal you will realize how simple it is, and feel almost stupid for using gas or electricity all these years. Another benefit of solar ovens is that most food can be left safely for reasonably long periods of time without the food burning or getting too hot.
Why You Should Be Solar Cooking
It’s a lot of fun!
This may be a surprise, but solar cooking and using solar ovens is really a ton of fun! Why spend time cooped up in a hot kitchen when you can be outside on a beautiful sunny day cooking for your friends and family using the power of the sun? Cause zero harm to the environment while using renewable energy from the sun to power an oven to prepare your favorite meals. This is really a no-brainer.
Change in climate
Every single time you prepare a meal using a stove that requires electricity, natural gas, propane or wood you are releasing extremely harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. So if the general consensus is that we are experiencing global warming, and our planet is slowly increasing in temperature which is causing climate disruption – wouldn’t you want to avoid any actions that promote this? Scientists link climate change to the constant release of CO2 into the atmosphere by fossil fuel and biomass burning. Solar cooking produces zero CO2 or any other greenhouse gases. Talk about a sustainable way of cooking.
Among the circle of petroleum geologists, there is a common factor in which they all agree on – the reserve of natural oil and gas are finite. What does this mean to us? Well it means that we will eventually reach a point of peak production, which will be proceeded by a decline in the availability and how much is produced. It’s becoming apparent that oil production has reached it’s peak, and our global economy is witnessing the beginning of the decline period – the same being relevant for the natural gas production throughout North America. Solar cooking again proves to be sustainable under these impending circumstances – no fossil fuels required.
Ask any experienced solar chef and they will tell you that solar cooking your food is healthier, tastier and better overall compared to traditional cooking mediums. You never need to worry about your food burning or loosing it’s nutrients. There is no smoke, therefore you don’t have to worry about inhaling fumes – like when you cook with a barbecue, for example. Lastly, your food doesn’t dry out like when frying or baking, which leaves you with scrumptious, delicious, moist food every time!
The deforestation threat
Our beautiful, lush forests around the globe are in constant threat, and solar cooking methods have assisted in converting people in the developing parts of the world to reduce the amount of wood used for their normal cooking procedures. By using solar cooking ovens in developing regions can prevent deforestation, and help people realize that fire wood is not always needed to provide healthy food for their communities. The use of firewood cannot continue if we as a global population have any concern for the environment and sustaining our population.
It’s very clear that solar cooking comes with many important benefits to not only help you, but our planet as a whole. The cost of a standard solar cooker can be met within the first three years of using it, just from your energy bill savings. After that, you are cooking for free! Not a bad investment if you ask me. The sun doesn’t send you a monthly bill for consuming its energy, so why not thank it by using its free energy as a renewable source for cooking?
This is a guest post written by John Rosenberg.
John is a renewable energy and sustainability enthusiast.
You can find him on HubPages.