A hybrid solar cooker is a cooking appliance that uses solar energy primarily, but also uses an electric element as backup. Hybrid solar cookers offer all the advantages of conventional solar cookers, but do not depend on the sun for operation. Some of the main pros and cons of these appliances are detailed below.
Advantages of a Hybrid Solar Cooker
A hybrid solar cooker is a very energy efficient and eco-friendly appliance. It cooks using light and heat from the sun’s rays, which is concentrated in a small area where the food is placed. Just like in a solar cooker, the food is cooked in an enclosed, heat conducting chamber wherein the heat is trapped. This principle of operation removes the need for electricity, gas or other fuel sources for cooking. It also affords users huge savings in terms of energy and money.
However, in a conventional solar cooker, the dependence on solar energy is a drawback. On rainy, cloudy days or at night time, cooking in a solar cooker is not practical or possible. Because of this, when sunlight is not available, users have to depend on other sources of fuel for cooking. Also, adverse weather conditions such as heavy winds or rain make it impossible to cook food in a solar cooker. A hybrid solar cooker offers the perfect solution to this drawback.
Most hybrid solar cookers consist of an electric element that can be used to cook food. When the weather is inclement, the solar cooker can be switched over to electric mode. It will work just like an electric stove or oven and cook food to the desired consistency, as long as the electric connection is available. Some hybrid solar cookers may also use gas or other forms of fuel as the backup source. Hybrid solar cookers generally provide superior cooking results as compared to conventional solar cookers. You can also use them for cooking tasks such as frying, which may not be practical with the use of solar energy alone.
A hybrid solar cooker usually performs on 3 modes—solar, electric and alternating. When the weather is bright and sunny, it can function exclusively on solar energy. When it is dark, cloudy or rainy, you can switch over to the electric mode. When the weather is fluctuating between periods of sunshine and cloudiness, you can use the alternating mode, wherein the cooker will automatically select the most suitable mode. A hybrid solar cooker is very safe to use and is ideal for carrying on camping trips and picnics.
Disadvantages of a Hybrid Solar Cooker
One of the drawbacks of a hybrid solar cooker is the price. It may not be an affordable option for poorer people in remote areas. Also, the requirement for an electric connection makes the hybrid solar oven impractical in many regions of the world. However, despite these drawbacks, hybrid solar cookers are being widely recognized as highly practical and energy-efficient appliances.