While the rest of us are constantly worried about our electricity supply, Woodlands resident, Qun Song, is harnessing the power of the sun to cook up a storm at home.
Song has been experimenting with solar power for over five years. In the beginning, she tried other materials, which did not work out well. Eventually she used a metallic sunshade used for car windows, which she describes as perfect.
“I’ve always been interested in solar energy. In the beginning, I used a box, but I found that the box did not work very well. So I changed to make it with the car sunshade and found it works perfectly. It does not break easily and is very light and easy to carry. It’s also very cheap to make the solar cooker with,” she said.
Temperatures can reach between 110 to 150 degrees Celsius and she can use it for cooking a variety of meals, including rice, sweet potatoes, mealie meal pap, chicken, with a downside being that it can’t be used for baking.
“I just put it outside and the best part is that you don’t need to check on it all the time. The sun is directed to the solar cooker, so I don’t need to always stand by it. I just usually check on the food hourly, depending on what I’m cooking. Sometimes, after one or two hours the food is already done,” explained Song.
She added that local poor people use paraffin to cook and while engaging with them, she found that they actually spend a lot of money on buying paraffin. “I think it’s very good for the local people to use car shade material. With the cost of electricity being so high, this is a cheaper alternative.
Even if there are a few clouds in the sky, it still works very well; you can see the food boiling as if it was on a stove.” She also added that apart from it being expensive, it is quite dangerous to cook with paraffin. “People spend a lot of money on it, and if they could use the car sunshade they will be spending much less on preparing their meals, saving them a lot of money,” she added.
Song explained that it takes 10 to 20 minutes to sew one of these car shades with a machine and 30 minutes if she does it by hand. It is important for her to share this method of cooking with others.
“I have made a solar cooker with a metallic silver sunshade. The total cost is about R50, which is actually the price of the sunshade. This is a simple method, which could save both electricity and money,” Song concluded.