Comments from Sophie Brock Lyman
Executive Director, Solar Household Energy:
Solar Household Energy, a 501(c)3 non-profit, has introduced over a thousand solar cookers of different types (panel, box, parabolic) in various settings throughout its 20 year history, with local partners building upon SHE’s efforts. The Haines solar cooker has many qualities that make it exceptionally well suited for dissemination in developing countries. Its minimalist design and lightweight, inexpensive materials make shipping and local manufacture quick and simple, resulting in a powerful, durable solar cooker that is one of the most affordable – if not the most affordable – solar cookers on the market.
In general, high costs of quality solar cookers have been a major challenge to their uptake. The Haines solar cooker could change this paradigm, as it can be sold at a profitable yet appealing price to the world’s poorest, enabling its rapid dissemination through market forces. This was SHE’s goal in recently supporting the launch of Lorena Harp’s “Cocineros Solares” social enterprise in Oaxaca, Mexico, which sold around 150 Haines solar cookers in 8 months at a profitable price to local poor, marginalized rural community households dependent on firewood for cooking. SHE’s project evaluation showed good adoption and impact of the Haines solar cooker, with nearly half of users reducing dirty stove usage by over 50%, and some using their solar cookers up to 6 times a week. The Haines solar cooker’s ease of use and slow-cooking style was particularly appreciated, as it saved women hours of labor time. Overall, the Haines solar cooker has proven itself to be a high-quality, powerful, durable, yet affordable solar cooker that is accessible and appreciated by those who need it the most.
Roger Haines, owner of Haines Solar Cookers LLC, is a member of the SHE Board, but he does not vote on matters relating to his solar cooker. Neither Roger nor SHE benefit financially from success of his solar cooker in developing countries, as the Haines is open source, and entrepreneurs are encouraged to order raw materials directly from manufacturers. When needed, Roger provides Haines solar cookers for charitable projects at cost, or for less, donating his time, resources, and personal funds to bring the benefits of solar cookers to those who need them around the world.
The Haines Solar Cooker is useful in developing countries because firewood is increasingly scarce and expensive for the two billion people who rely on it for cooking. Wood stoves can be used on overcast days, but they require constant supervision. A solar cooker can cook or bake whenever the sun shines while being supervised at a distance, because it never burns food.
- Pays from the profit not the pocket. Saving $9 on fuel every month, a solar cooker will pay for itself in a few months, and yield a profit every month thereafter.
- Saves Time. The cooker is set up in minutes and watched from the shade with no danger of burning as it cooks, bakes, or pasteurizes water. By contrast, collecting firewood, feeding a cooking fire and stirring the food to prevent burning is very time-consuming.
- Saves Health. Lung disease from cooking smoke is a leading cause of death in developing countries, and many children suffer burns from cooking fires. A solar cooker eliminates these problems.
- Saves the Environment. A solar cooker produces zero emissions, reducing global warming and local deforestation.
In October, 2013, 291 Haines cookers of an earlier design were distributed near Nairobi, Kenya by Faustine “Mama Solar” Odaba. Three months later, Rotary evaluators found that five of every six families were solar cooking at least weekly, half of the families used their cooker every day, and a third cooked two meals a day with the solar cooker. On average, the families reported saving $9 USD a month on fuel costs, and reduced their use of firewood by 77 percent. The “number one” reason given for loving the solar cooker was that it “saved time.” Because the cooker never burns food, women could “multi-task” while dinner cooked. They could even make Ugali (thick hominy mush) without stirring; a kind of miracle! And the cooker could pasteurize many liters of water a day for free.
A solar cooker can cut the cost of cooking fuel by half. This means the cooker will pay for itself in a few months, and yield a profit for every month thereafter.
A solar cooker is not an expense, it is a moneymaker. It gives double your money back AND you get to keep the solar cooker. Even families who collect, rather than buy firewood, will benefit, because a solar cooker can cut the time spent collecting fuel in half. And the savings in time and money can be even greater if the solar cooker is used all day, to make bread or cakes or to pasteurize water, when it would be too expensive to keep a fire going all day.
Haines Solar Cookers are also available in Mexico from:
Calle Gomez Farias 311
68000 Oaxaca OA Mexico
Telephone: 5219 511 173 100
Haines Solar Cookers are available in Africa from:
Nairobi, Kenya 00100
+254 729 001 702
Alliance for African Assistance
Geoffrey Okello, Director
Plot 33, Lower Churchill Road
+256 782 905 433