How to Build a Solar Panel Cooker

The Fun-Panel solar panel cooker can be built in less than an hour from a single cardboard box and some aluminum foil. This is significant because traditional solar panel cookers such as the Cook kit often require a large sheet of cardboard for construction. The Fun-Panel can also be adjusted more easily for different sun angles. This very powerful cooker is a true breakthrough.


  1. Image titled Build a Solar Panel Cooker Step 1
    Creating the Panels
    • Cut the cube-shaped cardboard box to obtain two large rectangular panels. Each panel is made up of one square face of the box together with one flap.
    • Draw all the fold lines and cut lines onto the panels following the Modified Fun-Panel Plan.
    • Cut along the cut lines, then fold along the fold lines.
    • Glue aluminum foil onto the inner side of the two large rectangular cardboard panels. Use white glue mixed 50/50 with water. Wheat paste can also be used. For more information see Glue.
  2. Image titled Build a Solar Panel Cooker Step 2
    Assembling the Panels
    • Join the two large rectangular cardboard panels together according to Figure 2, to form the cooker.
  3. Image titled Build a Solar Panel Cooker Step 3
    Adding small cardboard support


  • For low sun angle cooking, between 35 and 50 degrees, place the cooker down, with the rectangular panel on the floor, as shown in Figure 4. For very low sun angle cooking, below 35 degrees, raise the pot by 2 to 3 inches above the base to better capture the sunlight.
  • The Fun-Panel cooker is also capable of cooking without the plastic bag enclosure if you have good sunshine. A test in Singapore without the use of a bag recorded a maximum empty pot temperature of 130 °C (266 °F). The 4-liter pot used had a clear glass lid. The cooker was set to the high-sun angle setting, and the sun's angle was 55 degrees when the temperature was taken.
  • High sun angle
  • The small box serves to support both the cooker and the cooking pot in this high sun angle setting. For very high sun angle cooking, above 70 degrees, tilt the vertical, rectangular panels slightly backward until the pot receives maximum reflected sunlight. Tie the two ends of the string together to hold the rectangular panel in that position.
  • Low sun angle
  • The pot and plastic bag
  • Using the cooker
  • A large rock can be placed on the back shelf to help stop the cooker from blowing away on windy days. If more wind stability is needed, tie a string to each upper corner of the reflector wings (~5cm in from each edge.) Then tie the strings to stakes in the ground or heavy objects such as a rocks, bricks, etc.
  • With rising sun angle, between 50 and 70 degrees, flip the cooker around so that the square panel in the middle of the cooker is now horizontal, and place the cooker on top of a small box. (A box 5-6 inches high is now required.) See Figure 5.
  • To cook, put food inside a suitable cooking pot. Enclose the pot in an oven cooking bag. Use an oven cooking bag alone or a normal plastic bag around a wire frame to keep the pot from touching the bag (to avoid melting the bag). Set the cooker according to the sun angle, and face it towards the sun. Place the cooking pot in the cooker and start cooking.
  • Setting up the Cooker
  • Wind stability

Things You'll Need

  • A cardboard box
  • Tape
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glue

Article Info

Categories: Solar Energy