The Phaeton, developed by Fraser Symington and Lorin Symington of ASTRA is a powerful and innovative approach to solar cooking. It consists of an array of mirrors on a straight steel frame focusing to a secondary reflector which reflects the light upwards to a convenient working height of 75cm or 30″. With 35 square feet or 3.2 square meters of collection area the Phaeton array achieves a 5min/1L boil. A pot with 8L of water will boil in 35 minutes with 1000w/m2 of incoming solar radiation.
The Phaeton is one of the most cost effective solar cooking solutions available today. In Puerto Penasco in Mexico, ASTRA built a Phaeton for $364US. At any sort of commercial construction scale the cost will quickly drop to below $300US. At Mexican skilled trade rates of $40US per day for a skilled tradesman and his assistant, labour costs would be $160US per array at the artisinal scale, falling to approximately $100US in a dedicated fabrication facility. This amounts to a $400US 2kw solar cooker able to serve a couple of households or small business, or as a community solar cooker with a payback time of approximately one year or as little as two months in extreme conditions. The Phaeton is among the most versatile of solar cookers due to the high temperatures it achieves, the Phaeton can bake, boil, fry, roast, dry, or distill.
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