A solar furnace is any device that creates heat by concentrating sunlight through the use of reflectors. There are many different sizes of solar furnaces that you can purchase or build yourself. In addition, you will find that there is a wide array of uses for these kinds of furnaces.
A small furnace can be used for cooking, without having to use any firewood. A larger furnace can generate electricity for powering additional items within a home -- even powering the entire home! A homeowner could even retrofit a new furnace into the existing home.
While this concept has worked to introduce the technology to developing countries, it still has only limited success. The hope is that introducing it to developing countries will minimize firewood-related deforestation, which is an ongoing concern with the environment.
So how exactly does a solar furnace work? The principle of operation consists of two mirrors pointing at a focus. The intensity of sunlight in that focus will increase approximately three times. The reason for this is because instead of only getting light from the sun, the focus gets light from the sun and two mirrors.
Two mirrors pointing at a focus is not going to generate enough solar energy for you to do much. Once you have 10 mirrors pointing at a focus, you will begin to get closer to levels that are capable of heating and cooking food.
The main limitation you are going to find with how much solar energy you can get to focus on one spot has to do with how accurately the mirrors can be aimed at the focus. The solar furnace is something that is extremely useful and is quickly gaining in popularity despite this limitation.
If you are into building and constructing things on your own, you can certainly build your own solar furnace depending on what you are looking to accomplish. If you are not quite as ambitious, you can purchase them as well. Two great things about solar furnaces are that they are extremely versatile and they have no negative effects on the environment.