Making the Solar Oven
An example of making a solar oven – Image by Qaanaaq via Flickr. (This is not the exact solar oven described in this post).

A do-it-yourself solar oven is a simple way an average person can harness the sun’s energy for everyday use.   It is inexpensive, and can be completed in a few hours. The materials needed for this DIY project are:

  • 1 cardboard box, at least 20” x 20” x 18”A double-walled corrugated cardboard box is recommended for this one.
  • 1 piece of cardboard that’s slightly bigger than the opening of your cardboard box.
  • Duct tape
  • 1” thick hardboard insulation (enough to cover the sides and bottom of the box). Don’t use Styrofoam.
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil, at least 10 square feet.
  • White glue
  • Flat, black spray paint
  • A piece of glass that’s slightly bigger than your box’s opening
  • BBQ thermometer

Once you’ve gathered the materials, it’s time to assemble the DIY solar oven.

  1. Get the cardboard box, and bend the flaps out and down.
  2. Tape the flaps at the corners using duct tape.
  3. Then cut the insulation to fit the bottom and the four inner walls of the box. If you can’t find any insulation, you can use layers of cardboard instead. Doubling the insulation will give better results.
  4. Once you have cut the insulation to size, glue aluminum foil on one size of each insulation piece and paint it black. After which you will secure each piece onto the box, with the black sides visible.
  5. Now that you’re done with the cardboard box, it’s time to make the lid of your do-it-yourself solar oven. Get the piece of glass and place it on top of your oven. Be sure to seal it well, to avoid heat lost.
  6. Finally, poke the BBQ thermometer through the oven’s front and seal it with duct tape.

You have just completed your own DIY solar oven. Cooking with it is easy. All you need to do is to aim the oven into the sun. This oven is best for warming rolls and keeping your food hot. It’s ideal for items that don’t require a set temperature, such as soup, corn on the cob, or beans and rice.

This is a basic design for a simple solar oven.  There methods in which you can improve your oven’s design and efficiency. One way, for exampe, is to use plywood instead of cardboard. This would make the oven last longer. You can also boost the heat generated with the use of reflectors.