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How to Make a Solar Oven - Survival Fitness Plan

Learn how to make a simple solar oven

This DIY solar oven project uses nothing but the sun’s energy to cook food. It is a slow cooker that is good for cooking soups, stews, rice, and bread. You can also use it as a food dehydrator. 

Here is how you can make a homemade solar oven out of a cardboard box and aluminum foil. If you find you like using a solar power oven, you can make or buy a studier and/or larger one. 

Solar Oven Facts

Before making your own portable solar oven, it is good to know a few general facts about them. 

What is a Solar Oven?

A solar oven is a fairly simple device that harness then heat from the sun to cook food. Most solar oven cookers consist of an "oven box", reflectors, and a rack to put the food on.

How Does a Solar Oven Work?

Solar ovens work by capturing the sun’s light and concentrating solar power into a focused area to cook. The best solar ovens will also trap the heat via some sort of insulation.

Types of Solar Cookers

There are several types of portable solar cookers. Easy solar oven projects (like this one) are panel cookers. The panel’s reflect the sunlight onto the cooking area. Cardboard solar oven plans (such as a shoebox solar oven) fall into this category. 

Parabolic mirror sun cookers use a curved mirror to focus the light. They cook faster but are harder to construct.

You can also get solar oven’s that have a backup electrical cooker system so if the weather is not good you can still cook. These are called hybrid solar cookers. 

Solar Oven Materials

When making a solar oven you will need the following solar cooker materials.

Solar Oven DIY Project Directions

Place your pot in the cooler and cut the Styrofoam so it angles down while leaving enough room for your pot. Cut it from the inside edge.


Leave enough room for your pot

Cover the cut edges with tape to prevent the Styrofoam from fraying.

Line the inside with aluminum foil, shiny side out. Tape the aluminum foil down and fold it to size. Be careful you don’t tear it. Make sure you use tape and not glue so it is easier to replace it when the time comes. Paint the bottom black. 

Cut the heavy-duty clear plastic the same width as the opening of the cooler. Length-wise, you need to leave some going over the edge so you can pin it in place. If you’re using plexiglass, it needs to be the exact size of the opening. The weight will hold it in place.


Line the inside with aluminum foil, shiny side out

Make four reflectors from cardboard and line them with aluminum foil. See the image for the wing shape. The inside flap needs to be the exact width of the edge of the inside of the cooler.


Make four reflectors

Measure each wing separately since the diagonal lengths will be different. Making them wider angles means they will capture the sunlight for longer. Tape three of the wing corners together with duct tape.

Once the fourth panel is in place, you can use more tape to reinforce it. Leave one corner un-taped. You can hold it in place with a couple of holes and a twist tie, but that is optional.


Leave one corner un-taped

Put the rack inside your new solar cooking oven.

Various Solar Oven Designs

Here are a couple of different solar cooker designs using the same materials as the solar cooker project just explained. 


Several different solar cooker ideas

Cooking With a DIY Sun Oven

Preheat your DIY solar cooker by setting it out in the sun 30 minutes before putting the food in it. Put your food in it and let it cook.

The smaller the shadow, the more sun the solar cooking stove is getting. Turn it throughout the day to keep the shadow as small as you can. The wider the reflectors, the less you will need to move your homemade solar cooker.

Here are some estimated cooking times. Expect things to take longer on cloudy days.

  • ​2 hours: Eggs, fish, chicken (sliced), above ground vegetables, fruits.
  • ​4 hours: Root vegetables, lentils, small pieces of meat.
  • ​8 hours: Roasts, soups, stews, large dried beans.immediately

Note: On a sunny day, this solar powered oven can get up to 150C (300F), so use oven mitts and sunglasses, and keep your pets and children away from it.

How to Build a Solar Oven Conclusion

Now you know how to build a solar cooker. But you don’t have to follow these plans exactly. If you do not have access to a Styrofoam box, you can construct something similar with a cardboard box. Use these plans as a base to design your own solar oven ideas. 

As a side-note, a cardboard box solar oven is a good solar oven for kids to make. Maybe they can come up with the best solar oven design for a class project, have fun making a solar hot dog cooker when camping, or something similar.

Did you find this tutorial about how to make a solar cooker useful? If so, please share it with your friends.

Did you find this tutorial about how to make a solar cooker useful? If so, please share it with your friends.

Article by Sam Fury

Sam Fury 3 png
Sam Fury 3 png

Sam Fury is the creator and owner of the Survival Fitness Plan.

He has had a passion for martial arts and outdoor pursuits since he was a young boy growing up in Australia.

As a young adult he joined the military and studied outdoor leadership in college. After that, to further his skills, Sam started traveling to learn from the best in the world in various fields related to the Survival Fitness Plan including various martial arts in China, SE Asia and Brazil, Parkour in Singapore, Surf Life Saving in Australia, and others. 

These days, he still enjoys learning new things, traveling and sharing what he has learned via the Survival Fitness Plan. 

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