With the conversion to digital television, that has left analog televisions in the dust. While most of the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions with nothing to do except take up space, for those who have the old rear projection screen TVs that are now worthless you can cannibalize them to create a powerful solar cooker.
How It Works
All you need to do is take apart the old rear projection screen TV and pull out the Fresnel lens inside. You’ll need to be a little careful with it so that it does not break, but it is fairly solid and sturdy. The Fresnel lens is essentially a giant magnifying glass that works much in the same way a standard magnifying glass does when directing sunlight only on a much larger scale.
What you basically have is a large lens to act as a heating source which can be used to cook food outdoors with no charcoal, lighter fluid, or mess. You’ll need to mount the lens on a frame that can be directed over a singular point where you can cook your food.
WARNING: It only takes a few seconds to get a serious burn from the Fresnel lens when it is exposed to sunlight. So, be sure that the area you set aside can be isolated from children and pets and the lens is either covered or put away when not in use.
Getting the TV
The good news is that with so many people getting rid of their old rear projection screen TVs, it’s pretty easy to find them in the classified section of your newspaper or online. You’ll need a pickup truck and some help in loading and unloading the TV. While you are going to take it apart, you will need to be careful that you do not damage the lens.
Rear screen projection TVs offer a number of other great finds when scavenging as well. That includes the lenses from inside the projectors and the speakers you can use to augment your stereo system.
Mounting the Lens
You’ll notice that the front lens is square and flimsy which means that you’ll have to make a mounting frame to keep it steady. Clean the lens first so that any dust, dirt, or debris is removed. Then, you can either purchase a frame of that size or build one from materials that you purchase. Either way, it will need to be framed so that you can have control over the lens.
Once you have framed the lens, the next step is making a stand so that the lens can be positioned above the area where you intend to cook your food. A set of bricks on a stand makes for a good place to cook all types of food as it will absorb the excess heat.
Now you are ready to position the lens on a bright, sunny day over whatever dishes you want to create. Remember to keep bare skin out of the heated area and you are ready to do some free outdoor cooking.