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Solar Ovens

Panel Cooker

Illustration of solar cooker panel design, collapsed.Illustration of solar cooker panel design, collapsed.



  1. Cut the flaps off of the top of the box.
  2. Cut the box down the seams of one of the sides and back across the bottom.
  3. Glue one of the flaps to the bottom of the panel that was the bottom of the box. This will provide added insulation for the cooking pot.
  4. Glue aluminum foil to the side of all the panels that used to be the inside of the box.
  5. For cooking, place the back panel (ABCD) facing towards the sun. The cooking pot or cooking bag is placed on the bottom panel (CDHG). Angle the two sides to reflect sunlight onto the cooking pot or bag. The front flap (EFGH) can be propped up slightly to give additional reflection.


Box Cooker

Illustration of solar cooker box design.


  • File storage box, or other box approx. 12" x 15" x 10"
  • Foil backed foam insulation board, approx. 1/2 sheet per oven
  • Plexiglass, pre-cut to 12" x 15"
  • Aluminum duct tape, 20 feet
  • Black construction paper, 12" x 15"
  • Aluminum foil, 18" x 21"
  • Scissors
  • Wooden dowel, stick or pencil
  • Cooking Tips and Recipes


  1. Cut insulation material. Each oven requires:
    • (1 piece) 12" x 15"
    • (2 pieces) 12" x 9 1/2"
    • (2 pieces) 15" x 9 1/2"
  2. Put a piece of insulation inside the box on the bottom
  3. Put pieces of insulation around all the walls of the inside of the box
  4. Tape all seams: bottom, sides, and around the inside top of the box
  5. Cover the inside of the box lid with foil for a reflector
  6. Cover the inside bottom of the oven with black construction paper
  7. Place the glazing on the top of the oven
  8. Attach the box lid by one long edge to the oven with an aluminum tape ‘hinge’. The rod or stick is used to adjust the tilt of this lid to capture more sunlight.


Pringles® Can Hot Dog Cooker

Illustration of solar cooker Pringles can design.

Grades 3 - 5 (Adult assistance helpful):
Depending on the skill level of the student, it may be helpful to cut the slit in the can for them. At this level, students may also have difficulty holding the cooker still during the cooking process, therefore it might be easier to find a location where the cookers can be set down with the opening at the proper angle to let in the sunlight.


  • Pringles can
  • wooden skewer, 14"
  • transparency film
  • tape


  1. Cut opening in Pringles cans (see diagram).
  2. Bend the flaps open on the can. These will serve as reflectors to collect more of the solar radiation into the cooker.
  3. Cut the transparency film to fit over the opening and tape in place. This will serve as glazing to let the sun's energy in but not let the heat out.
  4. Make small holes in the center of the metal end of the can and in the plastic lid
  5. The hot dog is suspended in the middle on the skewer. (Cooker can also be used for kabobs). To do this, remove the plastic lid, put the hot dog on the skewer, slide the skewer into the can poking the end of the skewer out through the hole in the metal end, and then thread the hole of the plastic lid onto the other end of the skewer and push it up to seal the can. The hot dog should be suspended in the center of the can.
  6. Take the cookers out into the sun. Make sure that the cooker is facing directly towards the sun so that the sun is shining/reflected directly onto the hot dog.
  7. Check the cooker frequently and adjust their position to match the path of the sun
  8. In a bright sunny day with minimal breeze, the hot dogs will be ready to eat in 30 - 45 minutes.



Photo of solar cooker panel design.


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