There are a wide variety and styles of solar cookers that have been made and are continually being modified around the world. However, the three most common classes or styles of solar cookers are heat-trap boxes, curved concentrators (parabolic) and panel cookers. Many of the solar cookers in the world today fall within these three categories, often combining several styles for more effective cooking results.
The box oven is the most widely used style of solar cooker. They are especially popular in India. The typical box oven’s shape and size allows it to hold multiple pots, making it a good style when cooking for large numbers of people or when preparing separate dishes. The box oven cooks slowly and uses a reflector to focus sunlight inside the box, where the sunlight’s heat is trapped by plastic or glass that is wrapped around the box.
Parabolic ovens are also known as curved concentrator ovens. In comparison to the other solar ovens, parabolic ovens cook fast at high temperatures. Parabolic ovens focus the sun’s energy using curved walls to the oven’s center, or focal point, where the food is placed to receive the energy. It resembles a disk or large shallow bowl. This oven requires close supervision and regular adjustments in order to be used properly. Parabolic ovens are popular in China and tend to be used for institutional and commercial cooking.
A panel oven is a combination of the box oven and the parabolic oven. It uses a combination of flat panels linked together to reflect the sun’s energy and direct it to a cooking vessel where the food is placed. A larger transparent outer container is also incorporated to house the cooking vessel. This serves to trap the heat inside. Panel cookers are generally inexpensive to manufacture and are simple to assemble.
We like to describe the Solar Flare as a funnel cooker, a cross between a parabolic and panel cooker. The engineered parabolic funnel design reflects the suns energy to a vertical axis in the center of the funnel. More energy is disseminated along this vertical line making the Solar Flare System more efficient than traditional solar cookers and safer to use.
The parabolic design also enables you to cook food evenly and more quickly than other solar cookers. Most meals can be cooked in approximately one hour, thus eliminating the need to repeatedly adjust the funnel. A minimal adjustment of the reflector to follow the sun and quick stir of the food to ensure even cooking every 45-50 minutes is recommended to improve efficiency; however, most foods are cooked or nearly cooked by this time.
Information taken from: Solar Cookers International. (n.d.). How Solar Cookers Work. Retrieved from http://www.solarcookers.org/basics/how.html