Photovoltaic Cooking – Developing World

Intro & Background

Many third world countries today are using methods of cooking that are often dangerous (to themselves and the environment) or unsanitary. The energy used for these methods includes burning charcoal, cow manure, wood, and other materials. We aim to present a new method of cooking that is reliable, inexpensive, safe, and renewable. Our solution is to use photovoltaic cells to bring a pot to a boil and maintain it at a simmer. The Photovoltaic cooker is being designed to use minimal energy at a very low cost. Our main target is third world countries and will ideally be purchased for them through the carbon credits

The cost of photovoltaic solar panels is constantly decreasing. Currently, the cost of photovoltaic cells is approximately $1.00 per Watt. The current efficiency of solar panels is approximately 20%, however this value will continue to increase as the technology advances. In today’s market there are cookers using photovoltaics, but they require upwards of 1000 Watts of power. Using that much power requires several solar panels and installation materials that are expensive and nonexistent in many third world countries. In order to make a photovoltaic cooker a realistic product in third world countries, we are constraining our design to use a 100W solar panel. With such low power, it is unlikely that the cooker would ever reach
temperatures high enough to cook because of the heat lost to the environment. By insulating the cooker, we hope to minimize that heat loss and yield high enough temperatures to cook.

After conducting research, the majority of the solar cookers today use reflectors. When the reflectors are concentrated correctly, they supply sufficient heat to the desired area. The downside of a reflective based solar cooker is that they are often large and difficult to set up if not trained properly to direct it towards the sun.



We aim to use a cylindrical design for the solar cooker. From a heat transfer analysis of this particular design using a 100W PV power source at maximum efficiency we determined we should be able to boil 1 Liter of water in 62 minutes. Unfortunately, this will only be true if the insulation works as well as we hope it to and the solar panel is directed at the sun for the entire duration of cooking.

The top section of this design (not shown here) is an insulated lid that will extend down into this section of the solar cooker.