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Old 07-27-2016, 09:44 AM   #1
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Slow cookers using solar panel and small inverter

We have a 95 watt solar panel and a small inverter (think it's 600 watts) I'm thinking about taking the crockpot for our two week stint in the Thousand Islands where we don't have electricity. Does anyone have experience with this
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Old 07-27-2016, 09:58 AM   #2
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Ruthe it might be possible depending on one thing, how many watts does your slow cooker run at?
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Old 07-27-2016, 10:07 AM   #3
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My small one is 200 watts and the larger one is 240 -- This time we won't be alone -- there will at times be a crowd of adult children and I'm hoping to be able to make stews that simmer all day but I don't want to have to be around the camper all day.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:05 AM   #4
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You might want to experiment with one of these: Plans for Solar Cookers -- The Solar Cooking Archive.

Solar cookers or ovens have been around for a while in retail outlets but it seems rather simple to make. But, like a solar panel, a solar cooker needs to be facing the sun for best results, so from time to time a stir and a turn will be needed.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:13 AM   #5
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We've had one of these for several years:
https://www.sunoven.com
Easily gets up to 300 degrees even in northern Ohio on a sunny day. We use it frequently mainly for potatoes, beans, stews. Did a whole chicken once, turned out great. It's a bit bulky but if there's room in the back of the pickup we might just carry it along when we hit the road next spring.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:31 AM   #6
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I would like to try out the sun oven -- probably not this trip -- too much shade where we'll be
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Old 07-27-2016, 12:15 PM   #7
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Sounds like the smaller crock pot would use 16A an hour, 80A if it runs for 5 hours. Your 95w panel will produce about 30A a day, at least it would at my house in MA, parked in the sun in July.

It's possible crock pots do not produce max heat all the time, if so then then the power consumption would be less. Might try it out at home with a Kill A Watt or something similar to see what the real drain would be.

Good luck and let us know how you make out, my wife has mentioned doing the same thing.
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Old 07-27-2016, 12:33 PM   #8
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Then there is "Can cooker" Seth McGinn's CanCooker - Cater to your Crowd - Slow Cooker - Crock Pot - Steam Cooker
it is like a pressure cooker which was used for quick meals before crock pots. Meals can be ready in about an hour over your indoor/outdoor propane stove or even your campfire.
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Old 07-27-2016, 02:23 PM   #9
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We use a vacuum cooker similar to this: https://www.amazon.com/Thermos-Therm.../dp/B002QHZG3G. Zero amp hours. These have been around since the '30's. Bonus is that the liner serves as a pot for pasta and other things.
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Old 07-27-2016, 02:38 PM   #10
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I second the CanCooker. We bought a small crock pot when we got our trailer; however, I found I was just too nervous to leave it on in the trailer while we were away. The CanCooker acts like a low-pressure pressure cooker so you will have meals, usually in 35 minutes or less. Plus, you can use it indoors in inclement weather or outdoors on your camp stove ... no electricity or sun required.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthe View Post
We have a 95 watt solar panel and a small inverter (think it's 600 watts) I'm thinking about taking the crockpot ...

...My small one is 200 watts and the larger one is 240 -- This time we won't be alone -- there will at times be a crowd of adult children and I'm hoping to be able to make stews that simmer all day
The math is not favorable.

If "simmer all day" equates to cooking continuously for 6 hours then 440 watts times 6 hours is 2640 watt-hours which is 220 amp-hours. (This is assuming 100% conversion in the inverter. Lets ignore inverter and wire losses for this discussion.)

If you have the dual battery option than your dinner will essentially use up all your battery - minus what the 95 watt solar panel can replace - in "too much shade". Which in the worst case - shade and rain - is nothing.

One option to consider, if pocket book and gear space allow; an additional solar panel, to be used on cooking days. If you can manage a second 95 watt panel then the two - 190 watts total - will offset half the cooking power - assuming sun for 8 hours. Then your battery is only half empty and will fill up the next day. Not great but doable. The bottom line is that using 110v heating appliances is very hard on the energy equation.

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Old 07-27-2016, 11:41 PM   #12
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You can use
  • a moderate amount of power (a couple hundred watts into a slow cooker) for hours, totalling a couple kilowatt-hours (a couple thousand watt-hours or 150 amp-hours), or
  • a high power level for an hour or (regular electric oven, micowave oven, electric cooktop), totalling a couple kilowatt-hours or 150 amp-hours, or
  • enough energy to heat litres of water to boiling, so it can cook on the stored heat for hours... about a kilowatt-hour or 80 amp-hours per litre
When it comes to energy, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

For leave-it-unattended cooking, the last approach (as Zardoz described) sounds appealing to me.
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Old 07-28-2016, 02:05 AM   #13
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We alter our cooking method depending on whether or not we have hookups. We've used the crock pot when boondocking, and our batteries did take a good hit. It's doable with 160 watts of solar and dual 6v batteries, but we tend to not use anything electrical to cook when not hooked up. The can cookers work great, requiring only about an hour on a camp stove with a full pot of food. Then there's always cooking over a good ole campfire. One of my favorite camping meals is to combine meat, potatoes, veggies and seasoning in an aluminum foil pouch and just cook it on the coals.
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:59 AM   #14
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I'm going to forget about the crockpot for this trip and look into the can cooker for next summer --we'll use our stoves and see what kind of grills are there. Even though I've been cooking meat for a few years now (after 30 years of vegetarian food) I still have a lot to learn about cooking with meat on the road. Thanks for the suggestions.
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