You’re probably already aware of solar panels, but are you familiar with solar ovens? You may be wondering exactly how they work and what benefit they provide. As time goes on, we are becoming more and more familiar with solar technology. Whether you are looking for a solar oven to use at home or to cook outdoors, they are a great option if you’re someone who likes to opt for environmentally friendly methods.
Surprisingly, many solar ovens are capable of reaching temperatures that standard home ovens achieve. It’s possible to bake, broil, grill, and steam with a solar oven. The benefit is that no electricity is required, making this a mobile cooking solution. Solar ovens actually pose no fire threats like grills and camping stoves do. It would also be beneficial to keep one of these in your home for emergency preparedness.
How do Solar Ovens Work?
The simple explanation is this: Solar ovens use the sun’s UV rays to cook your food. The sunlight and heat it emits is not what cooks the food. The sun’s rays are what are converted into energy. Believe it or not, this can work even on cloudy days.
When UV rays are converted into energy, a pot and the food being cooked helps to retain the energy while a lid keeps it from escaping. This works similarly to a greenhouse or even a car when it’s windows are rolled up.
An In-Depth Explanation of How a Solar Oven Works
We are going to go through the solar oven parts and cooking process to give you a better understanding of how it works.
- The first part of a solar oven is a dark or black pot with a lid. Think of a cast iron Dutch oven or a black roasting pan. It can also be a pot that you darken with a weatherproof, non-toxic paint. The dark surface is needed since it will absorb energy and heat up quicker than a shiny surface.
- A clear & transparent covering is then needed to help retain heat and promote the penetration of the sun’s rays into the cooking pot. This will effectively raise temperatures to help cook the food inside of the pot. A large glass bowl or durable plastic oven cooking bag would work in this situation.
- The final piece needed is a reflective material that will help reflect additional sunlight to the oven, concentrating the UV rays. Mirrors, buffed tin, aluminum foil, or sheet metal are common materials used to accomplish this. This reflective surface assists in increasing the temperature to cook food faster.
Solar Cooking Tips
- Keeping track of the sun and adjusting your solar oven accordingly will help the process. Making an adjustment every 1-2 hours can help direct the rays towards the cooking pot, increasing the efficiency of the energy conversion.
- The best results occur when the sun is out and shining bright with clear skies. Days when the clouds are high and thin are also appropriate as long as cooking is started earlier in the day. If you are cooking a stew, vegetables, or other foods that require a slow, moderate cook, then cloudy days are alright when cooking is begun earlier in the day.
- Baking will produce different outcomes and take longer than with traditional ovens.
The Different Types of Solar Ovens
There are three common types of solar ovens you will find. These are box solar cookers, parabolic solar cookers, and panel solar cookers. There are many different variations of these solar cookers available. We will explain their differences below:
Box Solar Ovens
These solar cookers are mostly defined by their box shape. Box solar cookers can accommodate more than one cooking pot. This is the best type of solar oven to take place of a slow cooker, microwaves, or roaster. They achieve moderate to high cooking temperatures. Average cooking times range from one to three hours. These types of solar cookers are the most common world-wide.
Parabolic Solar Ovens
Parabolic solar ovens are also referred to as “curved concentration ovens”. High heat concentration can be achieved, meaning meals can be cooked faster when using one of these solar ovens. Rounded walls help direct heat to your food. These solar ovens are fairly popular in places like China and are actually gaining popularity in commercial food joints around the U.S. as well. Parabolic solar ovens are idea for frying, grilling, and popping popcorn.
Solar Panel Ovens
A solar panel oven essentially combines the designs of both box and parabolic solar ovens. Panels are used to help trap light from the sun in order to direct it to another box inside that is holding your food. This box is typically made from plastic or glass. These types of solar ovens are ideal for roasting, slow cooking, and other methods of cooking the happen over a long period of time. Solar panel ovens are more affordable and readily available in most local stores.
Evacuated Tube Solar Ovens
Evacuated tube solar ovens are generally new. They are known for working very well, even on cloudy days. These solar ovens are made of large glass tubes that are placed between reflector panels. This design makes for optimal heat trapping with temperatures reaching up to a hot 290 degrees Celsius. You can cook anything from meat, bread, veggies, dessert, and more with these solar ovens.
The Best Solar Ovens
Especially if you’re someone who is new to solar ovens, it can be overwhelming to go through your options. We decided to create a list of the best solar ovens and review them to assist you in your decision making process. With the valuable information we provided beforehand, you should be able to pick out the best solar oven for your needs from our list.
The SolSource Sport Solar Cooker is a parabolic solar oven that works best on warm, sunny days. You can boil half a quart of water within 15-20 minutes while taking up minimal space. A compact, portable design paired with a carrying backpack is great for traveling. Assembling and disassembling takes no more than 5 minutes.
A grill cover is included to prevent the sun’s rays from penetrating the stove when not in use, giving your cooker a longer lifespan. Any oil or food that is dropped on the reflectors can be wiped off with soap and water. Whether you need this solar cooker for your home, an emergency, or traveling, this portable piece is a great choice for around $200.
Weighing only 9 pounds, the Solarvore Sport Solar Oven is a compact & portable solar oven to consider. This solar oven is constructed from durable, recycled plastic, making it able to endure any kind of weather. One inch of insulation contains heat, making this appliance kid-safe. A polyester carrying bag is included for your traveling and storage convenience.
Two black 3 quart GraniteWare pots are included and will provide you with an even cook throughout your food. Thanks to a TR-86 High Performance Reflector mirror with a corrosion-proof finish, you can cook in any type of weather – winter or summer. You can bake cakes, slow-cook soups and stews, roast ribs or chicken, and more with the Solarvore Sport Solar Oven.
Another solar oven on our list is the Emergency Zone SunCore Portable Solar Cooker Oven. There are many different features that make this oven easy to use, such as a built-in thermometer, sundial indicator to determine the best angle for maximum heat, and an economical design. A carrying case is actually built-in this solar oven, finished off with a handle for easy carrying.
Reinforced panels are durable and remove the need for additional accessories. Using this solar oven is easy: all you need to do is put your food into the stainless steel inner tube and position the panels optimally. This cooker is perfect for taking on trips, whether it be hiking, camping, hunting, or fishing.
If you’re looking for an affordable solar cooker, the All Season Solar Cooker Camper is a great choice for under $100. It has the ability to be used during all times of the day, making it unique from other solar ovens in the market. A list of the compatible cookware is included with this oven, making it easy to cook a variety of foods.
You won’t be able to grill or bake with this oven, though you’ll be able to make many different types of dishes. The reflectors are easily adjustable so you can reflect as much sunlight as possible onto your cooking apparratus. That makes it so you can use the All Season Cooker for all seasons. Weighing just about 4 pounds, this one of most lightweight solar cookers you can find. Even this solar cooker has some limitations, it’s one of the best choices in terms of affordability and versatility.
The Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe is the most popular box solar oven available. It comes decked out with a thermometer, 2 heat conducting baking trays, 2 baking or dehydrating racks, 1 pot made from enamelware, 2 silicone pots, as well as a carrying bag. You can cook a wide range of foods and use many different types of cookware with this oven. With a weight of just over 1 pound, you can bring this solar cooker anywhere with you.
Sunflair is proud to donate a portion of profits towards healthier & more environmentally friendly cooking methods around the world. With a maximum temperature of 285 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a little bit of limitation on your possibilities. This Sunflair can be used similarly to a slow cooker and can still cook many dishes with a bit more time. If you want something basic and reliable, the Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe system is perfect since it is portable and comes with many accessories.
If you enjoy what the Sunflair Portable Solar Oven we just reviewed has to offer but you want something even smaller, then this is the perfect option. At just under $100, you get a compact, solar panel cooker, a thermometer, a trivet, a collapsible silicone pot, as well as a stuff bag. Set up and taking down can be done in a matter of seconds. This solar oven makes it possible to even cook in your car, tiny home, RV, and outdoors.
The Sunflair Mini Portable Solar Oven folds down to the size of a laptop and is the world’s lightest solar oven. Like the previous solar oven we reviewed, this oven reaches up to 285 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use this oven all year round for slow-cooking, roasting, and baking. You can try out this oven and return it within 30 days thanks to a 30-day return policy.
One of the most popular box solar ovens you can find is the All American Sun Oven. Reach temperatures as high as 360-400 degrees Fahrenheit and make just about anything you can cook in a standard electric or gas oven found in most homes. If you have a rack, there is enough room to stack a few pans or cooking sheets for cooking more than one dish simultaneously.
Built in handles make bringing this oven around with you on trips a breeze. There is a built in thermometer for your convenience. While the oven itself does not come with pots and pans, there is an add on option available if you would like an entire cooking set dedicated to your solar oven. If you’re going to need a solar oven capable of cooking at high temperatures, then the All American Sun Oven is one of the best out there.
Solar cooking is gaining popularity as more and more people want to be more environmentally friendly. There are many solar ovens available that can cook all year round, even during winter. You not only get to cook with an environmentally friendly method, but solar ovens are also a healthier cooking method. We hope you found our solar oven reviews useful in choosing the right oven for your needs.