Advancing Low-Cost Solar Cooking Technology

FamilyBuddy is SolarBuddy’s newest solution to provide solar-powered cooking, cooling, and lighting technology to families experiencing energy poverty worldwide. This project focused on designing the cooking element of FamilyBuddy, with the aim of fitting within SolarBuddy’s model of Learn, Make, Illuminate, which requires benefactors across the world to be involved in learning about and assembling technological solutions that will be gifted to families in energy-poor communities. Globally, the World Health Organization reports that around 3 billion people cook using polluting sources which can result in illnesses such as pneumonia, cancer, and heart disease caused by household air pollution. This cookstove seeks to enable families to cleanly cook without fossil fuel resources in a low-cost, environmentally friendly, simple, and resilient package while saving time spent collecting cooking fuels. 

The proposed design for the cooking component of FamilyBuddy offers an 18 cm electric element powered by 640 W of monocrystalline solar panels and a lithium-iron-phosphate backup battery pack to power the stove in all-time settings. This uniform solution is intended to be deployed worldwide as a one-size-fits-all solution. The design focuses on modularity as a way for easy assembly and local repairability, only requiring a single screwdriver and wrench to completely assemble and disassemble the cookstove. Additionally, every component works to reduce the environmental footprint of the device by allowing for a variety of different upcycled materials to be used, such as denim insulation made from old overalls or jeans to protect the electrical components from the generated heat, or a countertop made from old solar panels.

SolarBuddy’s vision is to deliver 250,000 FamilyBuddy’s over a five-year period to prove its feasibility and show the positive impacts that utilizing solar electric power for cooking and cooling can have globally.


Figure 2: Rendering of the internal electrical components of FamilyBuddy

Figure 1: Rendering of the electric cookstove with solar panels













E4C 2021 PROGRAM MANAGEMENT TEAM: Mariela Machado, Senior Program Manager; Grace Burleson, Research Manager; Marilynn Holguín Clover, Program Coordinator; Jonathan Kemp, Program Associate 

ADVISORS AND COLLABORATORSSimon Doble, Global CEO & Founder, USA; Joanna Cantwell, Director Stakeholder Engagement, Australia

This research was completed as part of the 2021 E4C Fellowship program. Learn more about the Fellows who worked on this research collaboration by connecting with them on LinkedIn: Brandon Simons and Elizabeth Collins.

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