DIY Solar Cooker in 10 easy steps

diy_36featAre you looking for an easy way to save energy throughout the year? Would you like to have a powerful, off the grid energy source that is easy to store and use? Well here’s a neat DIY project that will give you more power than you can handle. You don’t need any special skills to use it, it’s very powerful, it’s off the grid and it’s FREE. It’s so good you should definitely add this to your bug in plan. It could save your life.

Now, a long time ago there was this Fresnel fellow. He was a scientist and he came up with a lens that was used in lighthouses all around the world. Using his ‘Fresnel lens’, boats could be signaled from a much greater distance. They didn’t have electricity back then. In the case of an EMP attack, it’s good to know that you can use this cooker with your candle or other non-electrical light sources for signaling and communication purposes. Nowadays they are made of plastic. This makes them more flexible, easier to store and carry. Heck, it also makes them a lot cheaper. Here’s how one of these lens looks like compared to a normal one.

diy_36.3          diy_36.4

Building your own

What I love most about this project is how cheap, easy to build and powerful it is. You can find a great lens for your project in just about any old projector TV. If you don’t have one in your back yard or garage, you can get one from Craigslist or maybe one of your neighbors can help you. Most of the time the TV it isn’t worth fixing and it holds up a lot of space so you might be doing him a favor.

diy_36.5Once you get the TV, all you need to do is take the protection screen out, if it has one. You don’t need an electrician and you don’t need to break the TV. All you need is a screwdriver. The lens will be next to the screen. Here’s how it turns out.

Once you got it out, point it at the ground and make sure the sun is shining through. Flex it a bit and find the distance where you get either a very small burning light spot or a line. If the light focuses in a spot and not a line, you get more power. In any case it will still be powerful enough to cook or even melt or set stuff on fire.

Here’s how one of these looks in a wooden frame.

diy_36.6You can easily build one of these wooden frames. All you need is:

  • 1 Fresnel lens

  • 14 pieces of wood: 6 larger and 8 smaller

  • 8 longer screws for the outer frame

  • Nails or smaller screws for the inner frame

  • 1 wooden plank

  • 2 longer screws 4” or 5”

  • 2 wing nuts

  • Washers

  • Spacers

Step 1



First, get your lens and measure it’s length and width. Make sure all wooden pieces fit nicely.

Take 4 larger pieces of wood and use the screws to connect them as you can see in Step 1.



Step 2



Take 4 of the smaller wood blocks and place them inside. Place them towards the edge of the larger frame. You want to leave room in the middle for the lens and the other half of the inner frame. See Step 2.



Step 3



Place the lens on the inner frame, as you can see in Step 3.





Step 4



Put some spacers in the middle of the frame so the lens doesn’t bend. Place the remaining pieces of wood in the middle as you can see in Step 4. It’s the same as Step 2, but now you’ve got the lens in between.



Step 5



Use some screws to put these pieces together. You’d best make it at about 5” should be about 5 feet.




Step 6.



Make another one.




Step 7.



Drill holes in the middle of the frame. Place screws facing outside. See the arrows in Step 7.


Step 8.



Put them all together. Place washers and spacers along the screw. Use wing nuts at the end.


Step 9.



Place another piece of wood like you see in Step 9. This way it will be more stable.


Step 10.



Place a wooden plank on the piece in the middle. Make sure you place it at the appropriate distance from the lens. Put your pot or pan on a flat piece off rock or directly on the plank .



If you don’t want to go through the trouble of getting a TV and taking out the screen, you can buy one of these lenses online or at local retailers, in the reading section. If you buy one you save yourself the trouble of finding, opening and scrapping the TV afterwards. Also, you can check if the focal point is a line or a spot so you know what you’re getting. If you do decide to buy one, you should check on amazon or ebay for a used one. Trust me, you don’t want to pay between 70 and 230 bucks for a new one. What you could do is get a small lens for 5-15 bucks which is a very good addition to your bug out bag or your survival gear. You can get one here.


You can use this to heat, melt, burn or boil just about anything. You could even use this to power up an old steam engine. If you have one that’s still working, that is. Heck, point this thing at the right angle at anything that runs on heat and it will work for wonders. When you’re done, fold it and put it away.

diy_36.11We all know there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Now would you imagine you can have the same results and not have to go through the trouble of getting a TV or a lens at all?

Build a square frame of about 6 by 6 ft and put a see thorough plastic cover in it. This will be the roof. Make sure it’s not too tight and that it’s even. Now put it on another frame so it stands at around 10 or 12 ft high. Pour some water on top. The water should make a perfect circle puddle in the middle. Add water to adjust the focal point and there you go. As long as the soon is shining and the water didn’t freeze, you’ve got yourself a solar powered cooker that you can turn on or off by pouring water on it. Here’s a real, working one.






What other ways of cooking with solar energy do you know? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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