Solar Cooking and Food Drying and Solar Stills and Root Cellars

Solar food cookers use an arrangement of reflectors to concentrate solar energy on a cooking vessel.  A number of innovative designs have been developed.   Many of the solar cooker designs are inexpensive and easy to build. 


This page also covers solar food dryers, solar stills to purify water, and root cellars for storing food.


Solar cookers, solar oven and solar food dryer -- all described below

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Solar Cooking
Solar Cooking



solar cookerLots of info on solar cookers, solar cooking and solar food dryers.  

Plans for solar cookers and food dryers.

Compendium of Solar Cooker Designs ...


This site provides information on many solar cooker designs spanning a large range of design types, sizes, and capability.

You can even add your own comments on cookers.
Cooking With the Sun: How to Build and Use Solar Cookers

Beth Halacy 

Halicy book on solar cooking and cookersNice book on solar cooking -- title pretty well describes it -- has plans and recipes.  Useful information and pictures on the website.


Parvati Solar Cooker



Plans for Parvati solar cookerA very nice site describing the Parvati solar cooker.  Provides good  assembly diagrams and pictures.

The cooker is pictured at the top of this page on the left.

The Copenhagen Solar Cooker

As described on Rinstar...

The inventors site...


the Copenhagen solar cookerThis is a compact, foldup, easy to carry and setup solar cooker that you can either buy or make.



(Thanks to Steve for suggesting this)
Bill's Solar Cooking Page

Bill's new solar oven design 7/27/07:



Bill's very good solar cooking page and cookerBill's excellent solar cooking page.  Great solar cooking plans, tips, and recipes.





Bills new solar oven -------->>
Full Details...



A good and wide ranging solar cooking site.  Information on cookers, recipes, cooking techniques, workshops, solar cooking news, ...
Cooking With the Sun


Another good solar cooking site with some plans and hints and lots of recipes.


(Thanks to Doug for recommending this site)

Solar Oven Reflectors
solar box ovenThis company provides how to build information a simple solar box oven.

All Season Solar Cooker,
Jim La Joie



This is a nice design solar cooker from Jim La Joie.  The unique feature of the cooker is that the cooking vessels is always positioned on the flat bottom of the cooker, and the reflective panels are easily repositioned with one motion to focus the sun on the cooking vessel.

Jim provides a very nice set of free plans for the cooker.
Making and Using a Solar Cooker,
Joe Radabaugh, Backwoods Home Magazine, Nov 1994
solar box cookerA Backwoods home article on making and using a simple solar cooker made mostly from a cardboard box.
Tracking Solar Cooker

C. Alan Nichols

Very detailed plans, design, and test data for a solar cooker that tracks the sun.

Tony's Highly Portable Solar Jar Cooker

Details on the Solar Jar Cooker...

This is a neat little very portable solar cooker that Tony developed and sent in.

Perfect for heating soup, a beverage, or a hot dog!

Solar Cooking After Dark  -- A Stored Heat Solar Cooker 

Full construction details...
solar cooking with stored heatThis is a very interesting project from Mik that gives the details on building a solar cooker that stores solar energy in a bundlecooking with stored solar heat of steel rods during the daytime, and then uses the stored heat for cooking after sunset.

Mik is looking for ideas on improving the prototype.

Full construction details...
Scheffler Concentrators -- Large, Concentrating Cooking Collector with Storage

Barli Development Institute


Solare brucke -- info on Scheffler heliostat designs...

David Delaney article on the Scheffler heliostat cooker design...

An impressively large concentrating community Solar Cooker.

 These Scheffler heliostats concentrate the sun onto a fixed cooking vessel, or onto a heat storage device that provides for cooking after sunset.

This type of  concentrator can be built with common materials and ordinary skills.   The daily tracking can be by a simple clockwork mechanism, and seasonal tracking can be manual.

Solar Fire Project



Solar Fire provides detailed plans and how-to instructions for building three different sizes of concentrating solar collectors.

The materials are easily obtainable and the design is simple and straight forward -- the concentrators can be made with readily available materials and simple tools.

The Helios collector provides about 3 KW output and temperatures up to 950C.  Several potential applications are discussed.

Constructing a Solar Cooker From an Abandoned Satellite Dish

and another one:

Using an old satellite dish as a solar cooker.
Be careful!

Fresnel Solar Cooker Design,
Ed Norman C.U.S.O 1980 (this site has gone away, but

the Wayback Machine has a copy... 

An interesting site with some interesting solar stove designs.

Parabolic Solar Cookers,
By Jennifer
From CCAT (Campus Center for Appropriate Technology) 



Good paper on parabolic solar cookers with quite a bit of design information.

The CCAT site has a number of interesting solar projects:

Villager sun Oven

Article in TreeHugger


Solar Villager Sun Oven -- large solar ovenA large solar oven - "Each VILLAGER SUN OVEN® when utilized as a Sun Bakery can save over 150 tons of wood annually which results in the reduction of 277 tons of CO2 green house gas emissions annually."
Solar Funnel Cooker as Cooler



This article provides very complete instructions on how to make and use the solar funnel cooker.  It also describes how to use it to cool or refrigerate materials via radiation to the sky at night.
Solar Wall Oven



Very detailed article on designing, constructing, and the pros and cons of a solar oven mounted to an exterior wall with access from the inside.
Solar Cooking -- and the Livin' I Easy
Jennifer Stein Barker

How to get articles from Home Power ...
Home Power article, issue 88

Good review of various types of solar cookers, cooking techniques, and solar cooking recopies (including a Chocolate-Mint Ricotta Mousse!).

Roasting Coffee on Sunshine

How to get articles from Home Power ....

How to build a 1200F solar coffee bean roasterIssue 105 Home Power Magazine

How to build a 1200F solar coffee bean roaster.

Home Power Magazine Solar Cooker Contest

Richard Perez

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, issue 43.

Report on the Home Power Solar Cooker Contest.  Interesting solar cooker designs, and full plans for the winning cooker.

Parabola Drawing Tool ...


An easy to make tool for drawing parabolas as used in concentrating collectors.
The Ultimate Solar Cooker ...

How it works: ...


Solar cooking on a large scale.  84 parabolic concentrators of 9.2 sq meters each.  Capable of cooking 20 to 40 thousand meals a day!

This type of  concentrator can be built with common materials and ordinary skills.  
Some experiments with a satellite dish based, low budget solar cooker,

Details on Juan's solar cooker design ... (pdf)

This is a cooker design in work from Juan.  While its probably not the design you want to build if you just want try solar cooking, it does have a number of unique and interesting ideas.  If you are a solar cooking experimenter, you will probably find it very interesting -- I did.

(thanks very much to Juan for sending this in!)

Sun Rocket...

sun rocket solar water heaterAn innovative design commercial product to heat water.

It heats water in a central, vacuum insulated, glass tube using reflectors to direct sun onto the tube. When not in use, the reflectors fold to form the hard case for the device

(thanks to Jeff for suggesting this)

Solar Food Drying
Indirect, Through-Pass, Solar Food Dryer

Dennis Scanlin

Full article...

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, issue 57

Very good article on solar food drying.  Plans for food dryer.  Quite a bit of data on how to optimize the drying process.

Maine Solar Primer Herb and Food Dryer

Maine Solar Energy Association

Plan for a simple herb and food dryer

Courtesy of the Maine Solar Energy Association

Best-Ever Solar Food Dehydrator Plans,
Dennis Scanlin, Mother Earth News June/July 2014

Full article and plans...






If the link above does not work try
Finding Mother Earth News articles...

solar food dryerA very well thought out and researched solar food dryer from Dennis Scanlin at Appalachian State food dryer diagram





The dryer is the end result of a long research and testing program.

Complete plans are provided for building it. More information on this design and how it was developed in the entries just below.

Improving Solar Food Dryers

Dennsi Scanlin, Marcus Renner, David Domeruth, Heat Moody - Appalachian State University

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Article on App State Site...


Home Power Magazine article, issue 69

Very good article from Appalachian State University on finding an optimal design for a solar food dryer.  Various absorbers, reflectors, glazing arrangements etc. were tested to find what works best.

HP57 The Design, Construction and use of an Indirect, Through-Pass, Solar Food Dryer

Dennis Scanlin

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, issue 57

A highly refined design, plans and operating data for a solar food dryer by Appalachian State University. 

Try the first link first, if not there, search the archieves.

GeoPathfinder Solar Food Dryer...




What appears to be a very efficient and simple design for a solar food dryer.

Lots of other interesting sustainable living projects  on this website.
Three Solar Food Dehydrators - solar energy at work!
Paul Wheaton,

Link to the YouTube Video...

Another video from Paul -- very nice design...

Paul's Permaculture site...
three solar food dryersThis is a video by Paul Wheaton showing three large solar food dehydrators.

They all look pretty easy and cheap to make and they all appear to work.
Solar Tunnel Food Dryer,
Allen Dong, I-Tech
Public Domain  (pdf)



An easy to build solar tunnel style food dryer.  A detailed discussion on how to set the dryer up for optimum performance

Lots of solar dryer design information on solar food dryers.

This is from the I Tech site, which offers several other public domain projects.

Test of A Solar Crop Dryer

Danish Technological Institute Energy division

test solar crop dryerTest of solar crop dryer.   Extensive data collected on optimizing drying process.  Details on how dryer is constructed.

plot results solar crop dryer test

Build a Solar Food Dehydrator,   Eben Fodor,
Mother Earth News Article,  August 2006

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

solar food dryerArticle covers the basics of solar heated food dryers and what goes into a good design.

Author operates and also offers a kit for building a solar food dryer he designed.  Quite a bit of information on solar food drying on this site.
Solar Dryer for Fruits and Vegtables

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service

Solar Food Dryer (160K pdf)


Simple solar food dryer plans.
J R Whipple solar dehydrator


"Made from two cardboard boxes, some clear plastic wrap, and a little tape. You can build a nearly free solar dehydrator. Set it on a stool or chair and face it's solar collector towards the sun, and you have a functional food preservation machine for little work and even less money."
Solar Stills

Horace McCracken and Joel Gordes

VITA Paper


Understanding Solar Stills -- A VITA paperVery complete VITA paper describing a wide variety of solar stills for making potable water.  A good deal of design and construction information.
Eliodomestico is a solar household still for the developing countries

Eliodomestico is a solar still...

More details on how it works...
new design for solar stillThis is a promising new design for a solar still that is said to produce 5 liters of clean water per day.
Watercone Solar Still


Watercone solar still -- purify waterA slick new design for solar still.

"This Invention represents a conical, self-supporting and stackable Unit made from transparent, thermo-formable polycarbonate (same as water dispensers) outfitted with a screw cap spout at the tip and an inward circular collecting trough at the base. Technically speaking it is a solar still. "

Solar Still

ElPaso Solar Energy Association

Main page on solar stills..

A paper of their Solar Still project...

Solar Still from ElPaso Solar Energy AssociationThe El Paso Solar Energy Association has had a program that involves building and and collecting data on family operation of Solar Still for several years -- the links provide a lot of detail on the still and how well it has worked out.

The plans link gives a fairly detailed picture of a still cut in half to show the components.  Probably good enough to build one from.


Home Made Solar Water Distiller


This is an interesting design for solar water distiller.

The mirror is very simple, using aluminized mylar for the reflective surface and a simple and light aluminum frame that is pulled into position using tension wires..

Root Cellar for storing perishable food

BOAT IN A HOLE – Saga of a Root Cellar

Well, here is an approach to a root cellar you don't see every day.  George found an large fiberglass boat hull for not a lot of money and buried it for a very nice root cellar  (not to mention bunkhouse).

This may seem a bit silly at first, but George points out that there are a lot of boats out there that will never see water again and are just wasting away -- I'm sure they would love to have a new life as a root cellar.
Root Cellar for Vegetable Storage

Canada Plan Service

Root Cellar Plan 6321 (pdf)
Root Cellar Info  6321 (pdf)



Root cellar for vegetable storage.
Fridge-Less Living

Mother Earth News

Finding Mother Earth News articles...



Lots of information on how to get along without a fridge, including a root cellar in basement, conventional root cellars, and spring water refrigeration.
Build a Basement Root Cellar,
Mother Earth News

Finding Mother Earth News articles...

Good article on building a root cellar or cooler in the basement that will keep vegetables fresh through the winter.

Good use of insulation and outside venting make this look like a good design to me.

Combination Root Cellar and Storm Shelter
root cellar diyThis looks like a nice DIY design for a root cellar that can also serve as a storm shelter.

From the Backwoods Homesteading Forum
Passive Refrigerator/Icebox


This frig uses a well insulated 300 gallon water/ice container that is cooled by an outdoor finned tube baseboard unit to supply year round refrigeration with no energy use.  No moving parts.

Other interesting projects on the same site.