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The Parabolic Dish Design for High Temperature Solar Cooking Year Round

Parabolic cooker baking bread under a plastic dome. A line of parabolic solar reflectors used for cooking. Parabolic reflector working with a solar box oven.

High Temperature Solar Cooking - Parabolic Dish Research
This page is about my experience researching simple methods for achieving
high temperatures (350F +) for solar cooking. For this I recycled shallow parabolic
satellite dishes and other materials. These projects
are also compatible with other home made dishes such as the
Focusable Parabolic Mirrors described in my previous article. I like shallow
parabolic reflectors because food doesn't drip onto the mirror, they
are simple to make and highly effective for baking bread or boiling water.

Parabolic cooker baking bread under a plastic dome.
Build Steps (Using large mylar pieces)
1. Get a shallow parabolic dish or make one.
2. Add a square of wood or metal to the back of the dish for support.
It is also useful to add a rope handle to the back of the dish.
3. Take a pole and put two nails or screws in it so one can stick into the ground
and the other nail can hook into a hole in the top of your dish.
4. Spray the inside of the dish with sticky craft spray.
5. Lay out your mylar on the ground in strips or as a large sheet.
6. Use sticky spray to stick on two poles onto two edges of your mylar.
7. Spray the mylar with sticky spray.
8. Use the poles to move the mylar in place over the dish.
9. Press and smooth mylar into place and cut extra from around edges.
10. Tape around edge of dish, with plane tape or fancy silver tape.

Alternative Build Steps (Using small mylar pieces or small mirrors)
4. Spray the inside of the dish with sticky craft spray.
5. Spray a small piece of reflective mylar, like from inside of a potato chips bag...
6. Place mylar square in place on dish.
7. Possibly tape over, tar over, latex paint over, or rubber over
the edges of squares making a grid of mirror sections.
8. Tape around edge of dish, with plane tape or fancy silver tape.

Combining Dishes
Shallow parabolic dishes can be used to make more powerful arrays
for higher temperature cooking. This is a picture of two parabolic mirrors
being used together to bake bread.
Combining Parabolic Dishes

Making an oven for your dish
Making an oven to bake bread in is easy and I will describe two methods.

Making an oven method 1
Solar Box Oven. Parabolic reflector working with a solar box oven.

1. Get a box and fold the flaps inside.
2. Put a piece of vinyl over the open end of the box.
3. Tie the vinyl down with twine or tape three sides of the vinal down.

Notes and Options
* This design can cook at to 350F.
* Oven temp can be controlled by putting a towel over part of the mirror so it concentrates less light.
* You can put a brick under the bottom of the box so it faces the reflector better.
* You can spray the inside black(using oven paint).
* You can glue on some tin foil onto the edges of the box to prevent accidental charring of the box flaps.
If you set the dish so it has a tight focus you will burn parts of the box, as seen in the picture.
* If you already have a solar box oven with window glass, this is a way to make it work well in the winter.
Just face your solar box oven so the parabolic concentrator focuses more light into your box oven.
* I like this design because it is easy to make and easy to keep aligned with the sun.

Making an oven method 2
Parabolic cooker baking bread under a plastic dome. Parabolic cooker using a fish tank as an oven.
1. Get a clear polycarbonate dome.
Wal-Mart often has party ice containers like this.
Glass fish tanks also work but not as well as polycarbonate domes.
If you use glass, I recommend insulating three of the sides of the tank
with cardboard, in addition to putting a bag around your cooking pan.
To insulate from the inside apply sticky spray to fitted pieces of cardboard.
To insulate from the outside fit a box around the outside with a cutout
for the window side.
2. For the bottom use a piece of wood or cardboard wrapped in tinfoil or
fiberglass insulation that has a foil side, or foil over fiberglass...
3. Put an oven safe plastic bag or fairly oven safe plastic around your pan.

Notes and Options
* This design can cook at to 350F.
* Oven temp can be controlled by putting a towel over part of the mirror so it
concentrates less light.
* Polycarbonate plastic domes work very well and are used in this
commercial solar cooker: "ClearDome SolaReflex 900 Parabolic cooker",
a product designed for solar cooking in the winter.

What to do next?
1. Put on sunglasses.
2. Put cooking tray or water into oven with a cooking thermometer.
3. Face dish so as to direct concentrated sunlight into your oven and cook!
Note: 160F is the minimum cooking temperature for most products.
Instant pancake mix cooks fast, as do soups and bread will take longer to cook...
4. Enjoy!

Solar Grill-Top
Cooking pancakes with the sun.
This Solar Grill-Top style cooker was was made from a plastic
serving plate and is shown cooking a pancake @ 200F.
This demonstrates cooking with a bag(zip-lock) around the pan.
This reflector setup was nice for making tea and pancakes.
To make a more powerful solar grill-top I would use two of
these small dishes or a medium size reflector dish.

Boiling Water
Boiling hot teapot over parabolic solar reflector.
This is a picture of using a solar reflector to heat water from below.
It is not necessary to heat from below to cook or boil water
but there are two ways. The first way is to tilt the dish
The better way is to align the dish so a mirror under the cooking pot
reflects the light from below, keeping drips off of the big dish.

Most solar cookers are good at boiling water. The trick is to put a
clear bag around the container with airspace for insulation. I have
seen people use a clear bag with a wire support frame inside to
keep the plastic bag from melting on the pot. Mostly I used oven-
safe plastic bags because they tend not to melt.

Dripping Food
Some pictures of food dripping onto a very nice parabolic dish.
(Though these two images are not mine. I lost where these two images below came from,
contact me if you know...)

Generally I prefer shallow reflectors because food doesn't drip
onto the mirror, the focus is far away from the mirror surface...
Food dripping onto a parabolic mirror.
Big powerful mirror and group having fun solar cooking hotdogs.
But wow are those some big powerful parabolic mirrors!



An interesting solar cooker.
I would use different materials but the design is sound.
This design would work better if he used mylar and sticky spray.
He used silvered paper and white glue which is less durable on a
folding umbrella and in the weather.

A pretty good commercial solar cooker.
The Sun Fire Cooking butterfly-design solar cooker

My current favorite commercial cooker
"ClearDome SolaReflex 900 Parabolic cooker"

Community solar cooker - First implemented

Amusing: THE COBB PARABOLIC SOLAR COOKER - Lots of information.

One story of Solar Cooking in the world
Turkey Another Solar Cooker Success Story

Author: Michael Casper


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