Climate change is quickly becoming one of the biggest challenges for humanity. As such, many people recognize the need to reduce their load on the environment. You may be among such individuals. If so, you’d already know that making changes to your lifestyle is the best way to ensure that you’re living sustainably.
With advances in solar technology, we now even have an invention that can help us cook. You may wonder if it’s really that big of a deal. It is because we cook food at least three times a day, typically using gas or electricity. Imagine how much burden we can reduce on our natural resources if we all moved to solar ovens!
Now that we’re familiar with the needs, let’s answer some fundamental questions about solar ovens. In this piece, we will look at what are solar ovens, how they work, their various types, and their benefits.
What is a Solar Oven?
A solar oven is a device that can generate heat to cook food. What differentiates it from the conventional oven is that it harnesses sunlight as its only fuel source. Since solar energy is clean and renewable, it reduces the users’ carbon footprint and helps in managing climate change.
How Does a Solar Oven Work?
The mechanism by which solar ovens cook our food is rather simple. It first collects sunlight into an enclosed plane and then concentrates the energy to a single location. While the procedure will obviously vary based on the specific design of the oven, the general principle remains the same.
Glass or other reflective surfaces are used to carry out the collection and concentration described above. A key characteristic that all types must share is heat retention. If heat is constantly escaping from the oven, it won’t be very efficient at heating or cooking our food.
At obvious advantage of solar ovens is that they cannot function at night or in overcast weather. To address this issue, certain types are accompanied by an electric hotplate. While not ideal, such types are still better than using conventional ovens.
Why Go Solar with Your Oven?
Now that we have answered what is a solar oven, let’s take a look at its advantages.
Popular culture makes a lot of fun of environmentally conscious people. While it may seem like you’re the butt of a joke or two among friends, the benefits of a solar oven will make it all worthwhile. Solar ovens help us in four categories.
Solar ovens may save you from cancer! Grilling food, using fire and wood-based ovens can put you and your loved ones at risk of cancer. Furthermore, the food in solar ovens is able to retain more nutrients as well. This is not the case with conventional thermal ovens that have very low temperatures.
Solar ovens pay for themselves in the long run as they don’t need a commercial power source. Since energy from the sun is free to use, solar ovens reduce your energy bills. The initial investment may seem a bit high, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.
We’ve all wondered “did I leave the oven on?” in the middle of a long car journey. Solar ovens don’t pose the same risks to our property and loved ones as thermal and gas-powered ovens.
This point has already been stressed but is important to enough to be mentioned again. Solar ovens are good for the environment! Burning fossil fuels increases our carbon footprint. Furthermore, it reduces the earth’s natural reserves of these fuels. Higher concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere results in global warming.
Global warming has caused extreme weather, loss of biodiversity, and rising sea levels. As a result, we need to make lifestyle alterations. Solar ovens use energy from the sun, so they don’t burn any fossil fuels. They also don’t waste non-renewable energy. So, they are ideal for people who worry about the environment.
Types of Solar Ovens
You know what is a solar oven, but which one is right for you? Solar ovens have many varieties because people can make DIY versions. Regardless, three main iterations dominate the scene. These are as follows:
- Box Ovens
- Parabolic Ovens
- Panel Ovens
Let’s take a look at each in more detail.
Box ovens, as the name suggests, have an open-box style design. There is space inside where several pots or pans of food can be placed simultaneously. The heat is retained in the space by enclosing it under a glass cover.
You should not remove the cover while cooking as it will cause the system to lose heat. The exception to this is if steam collects on it so much that sunlight cannot enter properly.
If you’re looking for quick and concentrated heating, parabolic ovens are the way to go. These ovens can create an extremely hot concentrated beam of heat to be projected onto a container. Due to the temperatures that they can generate, they require more careful supervision than other types.
These are more travel-friendly, but they don’t offer the same kind of heating as the previous two options. Ultimately, they do the same thing, just much slower. To expedite the process, some people seal them inside a microwave-safe case. This traps the heat and ensures quicker results.
Our Final Thoughts
Knowing what a solar oven is, its types and benefits can help you decide whether you’re ready to take the plunge towards green-living in this area of your life. Once again, we only have one planet! So, every little bit helps in saving it for the future.