THE SUNNY SIDE OF COOKING

As we mentioned in our Drain Pipe Generator post, we would love to be off the grid producing our own electricity, heating and growing our own food and putting back what we take from the earth and thankfully most of that is achievable with heat pumps, solar panels and wind turbines, but how do we become more efficient in our energy use?

We’re big foodies here and we love a good roast, especially the ones that sit on a low temperature cooking for several hours but using the oven takes up a lot of energy, so how do we get round that?

The obvious answer is to stop cooking roast meats in the oven, but we’re firm believers that although being green means that things have to change, there’s no need to go changing everything you’re doing, you just have to do it in a different way. Giving up roast dinners, definately not an option, so what else is there?

Solar panel roof

Once producing energy is mentioned, most people turn directly to electricity, but switching from oil to battery power is not as ecological as most people think and the low efficiency of electric ovens would mean a huge solar cell array which will not only waste electricity but materials.

Solar Oven

A solar cooker might be an option and for slow small foods they would be fine but I’m doubtful they could handle whole leg or shoulder of lamb.

With limited choices, we put the thinking caps on and came up with a way to have an eco powered oven in the home that’s efficient. The concept we came up with isn’t perfect and won’t always be suitable but it will lower energy usage and uses all current technology.

The transfer fluid enters the collector cold (blue) and is heated up as it goes through becoming hot (red), this then goes down into the oven.

Now for the geeky stuff. By using a parabolic reflector you could heat a transfer fluid up to 200˚C – 300˚C (392˚F – 572˚F), this is common solar power technology. The hot fluid could then be used to heat the oven. On less sunny or winter days the temperature difference would be taken up by other means such as the stored electricity from your solar panels or wind turbine.

In the oven the hot (red) fluid goes through the oven and the heat is transfered into the food and exits the oven cold (blue).

This shows a simplified process but more design will be added into the area of heat transfer in the oven, insulation of pipes and even possible heat storage for cooking later in the day.

Now the stove top could use a combination (I don’t like the word hybrid) heating system with a central pad being heated by the solar collector and outer by gas or electric ring.

So that is the Quirk solar cooking system. Is it something you’d considering using in your home or do you have other ways to conserve energy? We’d love to know what you think, so leave us a comment or send us an email if you want to know more about it. Don’t forget that over the coming weeks we will be showing off a few more of our designs, so stay tuned but in the meantime you can always check out some of the other green posts.

Images from Solar Navigator, Wikipedia and by us Quirk Design.

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