The idea of reducing our reliance on the outside world is now a habit as much as a desire or necessity. Of course, when living off-the-grid it would be stupid to rely on the grid for doing so. That’s just nuts. Still, all of us living OTG do, in fact, rely on the grid for SO MUCH that I have avoided declaring independence and total freedom from the GRID. Instead, I admit it. We get food from stores. We get propane from the barge. We get gasoline, wine and well, the list goes on. We have one foot in the forest, one foot in town. There is no question that we are all a lot MORE independent than any city dweller but we are simply NOT independent. Seems no man is an island even when living on one.
But, like I said, the habits are now somewhat ingrained. We try. We do all the OTG things and try to get better at it every year. And, in some ways we are better. Sal’s outboard is running rough and so SHE spent a few hours yesterday stripping out the fuel system and cleaning and checking everything. THAT is being independent. ‘Cept for the fact that, after all her efforts, it is still running rough. So, the attitude is there, the expertise is still a bit wanting.
While she was slinging wrenches and filters, I was building a solar oven. And, like Sal, I was doin’ good. Still am. I have been doin’ good for a while now. The sad part is that, if you do good for too long without actually ACHIEVING good, then, by definition, you are NOT really doin’ so good after all. And I may be getting close to that. My solar oven is running a bit rough.
A great solar oven should heat up to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 C. Mine will only go up to 200 degrees F. The largest part of that is I do not yet have the great wing-reflectors that are needed to focus the sun’s rays. Those are a big deal. So, yesterday, I mocked up a couple and put them on temporarily. They cranked the heat up some 25 degrees but that is simply not good enough. I am going to have to ‘do it right’ with all four sides (instead of just two) or, push comes to shove, add more insulation.
“Dave! Why the hell would you work so hard to make such a stupid thing?”
You make a good point. And presented it so well, too.
While it is true that we live in BC (not known for excessive sunshine) and BC is in Canada (somewhat well known for being cold!), we still get enough sunshine in summer to run a solar oven (theoretically) with even a rotisserie. I’m kinda keen on having a rotisserie.
But the truth is, it was more of an experiment. The REAL truth is that I have enough solar power (electricity) that, in summer, I can almost run an electric oven with a rotisserie. Four more panels and I could. And buying such an oven and buying so many panels is a helluva lot easier than trying to make a solar oven – one that works. But, I wanted to try.
The oven (such as it is) is 25″ x 18″ x 12″. So, it is kinda big. It will cook two large chickens (if I ever get it hot enough). The adjustable and angled stand is salvage from an old satellite dish. The rotisserie was ordered new off Amazon. Materials included aluminum heat tape and heat resistant (to 450F) sealant. A scrap of heavy filter screen forms the angled floor.
OK. OK. It’s a little…maybe a LOT crazy but well, it is half done. I have to finish. Worse comes to worst, I have a very substantial food dehydrator with the optional rotisserie attachment.
It looks impressive, I must admit. And I would definitely like to see the first solar baked chicken :-)! But shouldn’t the reflectors all aim the solar rays to the spit (center of the oven)? I think you radiate out again a lot of the solar rays by not aiming everything to the center. I am no expert whatsoever, and you have a lot of year’s practice building OTG appliances. If it works, you can even open a local shop with roasted chickens! But it’s good to keep figuring things out and trying to build stuff yourself, rather then buying solar panles and an electrical oven…keeps you young. Your experiment reminds me of myself building a solar panel to heat up my swimming pool….it worked rather fine and heated up the pool to a decent temperature…that was like 20 years ago
Thanks for the encouragement. I need it. But the reflectors are NOT YET on the box. I have two but I did not show them in the pics. Basically four big-wing box-flaps that, as you suggest, are more of a tunnel than wings when set up. They are supposed to ‘expose themselves’ at 60 degrees (the sides of the box are deemed to be 90 degrees. So, basically 30 degrees off the vertical. When I build that big rectangular cone, I will know if this works or not.
If I “exposed myself at 60 degrees”…..everyone else would turn 180 degrees and run!
send some more pics when finished….and definitely send pics of the first roasted chicken!
Deal! Pics of roasted chickens…..kinky…but it’s a deal.
I’m too lazy.
I’d be staring at that beautiful pile of split, dry wood you have stock piled and think, “Well, if it was good enough for cavemen……it’s good enough for me….”
Use the solar power to run the rotisserie while you feed the carbon beast…… 🙂
Have you checked out solar vacuum tubes?
i believe a company in Sask makes them.
Verrrrry interesting tech. and simple to install.
Their video demos show -40cel outside and plus 8 cel in a garage. Just from the sun and recycling fluid.
For me the dehydrator feature would be the selling feature. When my parents lived in Sun City (Hemet) they had fruit trees. I remember them dehydrating on window screens in the back yard. I’ve done a bit in the oven but that uses propane faster and we have to haul our to and from the marina in heavy tanks. Wish we had a delivery service. – Margy
Well, I have not yet given up on higher temps for the solar oven and today started some further improvements. We’ll see. We’d been away for a bit visiting grandchildren and everything, including my blog, was put aside. But that just means more to catch up on so we are now doubly busy. Hard to believe we ever had a job as well as a house to care for – now we can barely do the latter!