When it comes to cooking options in a grid down event there aren’t many options where cooking in the oven is concerned. A solar oven is also great to have for everyday use. They can be used for dehydrating, and will cook just about anything you cook in your oven without heating up the house in the hotter months.
I own an All American Sun oven and I absolutely love it. The only downside of using a solar oven compared to a conventional oven is it’s size. It can be a challenge to cook for a large family. This is why I contemplated purchasing a second sun oven, but ultimately decided to try my hand at making my own solar oven.
I decided to use the same dimensions as the Sun Oven because the design is great, and I wanted to be able to use the accessories that come with it in my DIY solar oven.
Because this was a big project, I split it up into 4 different steps. All the steps are listed at the bottom of this post.
Difficulty: This is the easiest part of the solar oven project. If you can use a drill, a saw and a ruler you should have no problem making these solar oven reflector panels.
SHTF Value: Having as many ways to cook in a disaster is always a plus. There are not many options available for dehydrating or cooking food in an oven.
Cost: These reflectors are inexpensive, especially if you have some of the materials already on hand. You could also use less expensive materials such as tin foil and cardboard.
Tools Needed: Skil Saw – Straight Edge – Clamps – Cordless Drill – 1/4″ Drill Bit – 40 or 60 grit sand paper
Above is the step by step video showing how I put together these solar oven reflector panels. Below is a little more detail about each of the steps in the video, and the supplies I used.
- 2ft X 4ft Marker Board (X2): $11 Each
- Mylar Bags 20in X 40in (X2): $24 for a 10 pack
- 3M Super 77 Glue: $10
- 8in Zip Ties (20): $5 for a 100pk
You may have some of the items listed above which will reduce the cost, and you can also substitute lower cost items. For example cardboard could be used in place of fiberboard, and tinfoil could replace the Mylar bags.
Note: The Home Depot website says the Marker Board is $20, but I got mine from the store for $11. If it were $20 I would have used unfinished MDS board and painted one side.
Cutting the Reflector Panels
To start this project off you will need to measure out the dimensions of the reflector panels and cut them with a skill saw. Each piece of 2′ x 4′ fiberboard will give you 2 panels. Also, make sure to use a straight edge and clamp it down firmly to insure a perfectly straight line. Here are the dimensions of the Sun Oven reflector panels…
In order to get these panels to angle outward, you’ll need to cut the angles at the bottom. To do this just measure down 9 1/2 inches from the top, and 8 1/4 inches (1/2 the width) from the bottom middle.
Once you have all 4 reflector panels done you can take 2 of them and cut them straight down the middle (image above). These 1/2 panels will be the panels that fold inward for easy storage.
Drill Zip Tie Holes
Drilling the holes is a fairly simple process. What I did was make sure the holes were evenly spaced out, and the measurements were the same on all 4 panels. If the holes are not in the same spot on each panel it will cause them to be uneven.
Drill 3 holes on the angled portion of the reflector panels (not the top like I did) and 4 holes to connect the panels you cut in half. As you can see in the image above I accidentally drilled holes in the top portion of the panels…don’t do that haha.
Gluing the Mylar
The next step is applying the Mylar to the fiberboard panels you just cut out. A lower cost alternative to Mylar is heavy duty tin foil, although the Mylar gives you a cleaner (smoother) finish.
I started off by sanding the fiberboard with 40 grit sandpaper to rough it up a little bit. I did this to give the glue a little more surface area to adhere to.
When you measure the piece of mylar you are going to use to cover the panel make sure and make it a couple of inches bigger than the panel. This gives you a little room for error. afterwords you can trim the extra Mylar off with a razor knife.
I used Super 77 spray adhesive to glue the mylar to the fiberboard. Just spray a lite coat on and let it sit for 15 to 30 seconds before you start fitting the Mylar on.
As shown in the video, make sure and smooth everything out by hand to remove bubbles. You probably won’t be able to get everything perfect, but do what you can.
Connecting the Reflector Panels
The final step in building the solar oven reflector panels is putting everything together. I used 8 inch zip ties, but you could use paracord, wire or something similar.
When doing this it’s important to make all the connections loose, and make adjustments when you get all the zip ties on. I had to cut a few zip ties off and start over because they were too tight.
I’m not sure how much it matters, but I threaded the zip ties from the finished side to the inside (Mylar side) My thinking was that it would fold together better that way.
Coming Up: Building the Solar Oven Box
The next step in this project is putting together the frame of the box, the interior, and the casing. You can view that solar oven tutorial as well as all the other steps using the links below.
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