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How Can We Cook with Solar Energy

Everyday tasks that we all have to perform include cooking. Imagine how much energy we could save and how much less carbon dioxide would be emitted each day if we could replace the energy we need for cooking with solar energy.

Solar collectors, as opposed to photovoltaic panels, are present everywhere around us. In actuality, we occupy one. The Earth itself is a massive collector, soaking in sunlight and holding onto just enough of it beneath a protective blanket of atmosphere for life to exist. Similar principles apply to solar collectors. We'll go over each of the two main methods for capturing solar heat and using it productively.

Especially if you've ever owned a black-interior vehicle and left it parked in the sun with the windows rolled up, the first method is arguably the easiest and most common. Dark colors reflect heat, and if they're in a room with glass walls, a lot of the heat will be trapped.

The second approach is quite different. Solar energy is first concentrated and focussed via a reflective surface, as opposed to just absorbing heat in a black box. This may be a curved, highly polished array of mirrors that can produce heat with a temperature of thousands of degrees, or it could be reflective foil adhered to a box's sloping sides that can reflect sunlight onto a black pot to cook a chicken supper.

Solar Oven

Simple solar ovens and cookers use a reflective surface that is inclined or curved toward a cooking pot to absorb heat from the sun. They may be used for nothing at all to boil water and prepare food in a fair length of time. There are dozens of different designs; some direct the rays upward toward the underside of a pot, resembling a reversed magnifying glass; others direct the rays downward into a tiny core region. Portable solar cookers that have already been constructed are also available online and make excellent camping gear.

A solar oven may achieve temperatures exceeding boiling (212° F), depending on factors including location, ambient air temperature, and sun angle. In the right circumstances, certain varieties may reach 300° or more. The temperature range is high enough to allow for the safe cooking of meat. In a solar cooker, you can cook everything that can be prepared in a slow cooker, even meat (as long as the sun is out!). Additionally, you may prepare a variety of different foods, including rice, salmon, potatoes, and other baked items.Because cooking durations can vary based on the season and where you live, you'll need to do a little testing using a cooking thermometer. The majority of meals will require two to four hours to cook.

Despite the longer cooking times and lower temperature, the food still tastes great and there is no risk of overcooking. Parabolic cookers are best used for frying food or boiling liquids since they can achieve temperatures that are substantially greater than those of ovens.

Other considerations when using a solar oven include:

• Make sure the cooker is adjusted so that there are no shadows inside, and turn the cooker every hour or so to face the sun.

• You can use a candy thermometer or oven thermometer to determine how hot the oven is. • Because the cooking temperature is relatively low and the food is in a closed pot, it won't overcook or dry out if you leave it in for an excessively long time. You may calculate the cooking time using this.

• If at all possible, avoid opening the lid—every time you do, the cooking time is thought to increase by 15 minutes.

• After every use, clean the oven's inside. As much light as possible enters through the clean glass cover.

• You need a dark saucepan with a lid to cook in the oven. The heat from the sun is transferred to the food by the black metal of the pot.

• Children should only use the solar oven when they are directly supervised by an adult.

Solar Parabolic Cooker

A solar parabolic, or dish, cooker is a rather powerful device for using the sun to cook or heat food. Even a small dish in direct sunlight may smolder cardboard in just a few minutes and ignite it in under three. It can boil water and fried meals when built and utilized properly. For students or anybody else interested in learning how to harness the power of the sun, parabolic dishes also make excellent experiment and demonstration projects.

Similar to a magnifying glass, a parabolic solar cooker concentrates light on a single point, in this instance the cooking area hung above the center of the dish. You don't need to adjust the focus as you would with a magnifying glass because of the way the dish's shape reflects light to the same spot every time. Of course, the dish has to face the sun for optimum heat, so if you're cooking for a long time, you might need to change the dish.

The size of the dish and the reflection of its surface determine how much heat energy a parabolic cooker produces. More heat is produced by a larger, smoother, shinier surface than by a smaller dish with a duller surface. Smaller cookers, on the other hand, are lighter and more portable.

Configuring Your Cooker

Place the cooker dish so that it is parallel to the sun. The threaded rod's end should be the focal point of the sunlight reflection. If required, move the nuts to bring the focus point to the end of the rod by pushing the rod in or out. As the focal point does not change with the angle of the dish, you should only need to do this once. Set the enlarged metal plate on the focal point, indicated by the end of the threaded rod, by positioning the cooking stand and adjusting the height of the cooking basket. Start cooking by setting your pot or frying pan on the metal plate.

A few pointers for the best outcomes:

• When cooking, choose a dark-colored pan or skillet; cast iron is the best choice because it is dark and warms up fairly evenly.

• To ensure equal heating, rotate the pan periodically.

• If cooking takes more than 10 minutes, move the dish to maintain optimum heat.

The cooking time is a little bit longer when utilizing solar energy, despite the fact that it is less convenient than using a gas stove. However, it is a product that is suited for camping outside without harming the environment.

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