The major percentage of global population cook over wood, gas, oil, and electricity. In fact, we are so used to these resources that sometimes we forget they are scarce. Oil and gas are used in many other applications and estimated to be finished within the next few decades. Deforestation is increasing, leading to pollution, average temperature rising and imbalance of wildlife. With about 18 million acres of forest destruction each year, which is roughly the size of Panama, we’re heading towards global desertification. Now is high time we embrace and acquire product like the best solar ovens.

Using solar oven is a healthy, safe, environment-friendly method of cooking, which keeps most of the nutrients intact. At the same time, it’s fun and saves money in the process, what more can we want?

 

What Is A Solar Oven

The solar oven is a device that uses the sunlight energy to cook food, heat them and pasteurize drinks. It can be used to grill, roast, stem even boil foods. Now, this might sound like a high-end technology. But the structure is pretty simple, so is the mechanism. A solar oven is comprised of big metal parts which are used to catch the sunlight and focus them on one place, the place where the cooking pot is positioned.

Do solar ovens really work? Many people seem to have the misconception that solar ovens depend too much on the temperature. Solar ovens use the sunlight, while the temperature is a minor factor in the process. Best solar ovens work well even on a relatively cloudy day. Quality solar ovens have the capacity to reach a whopping 400 degrees Celsius. Progressive, large-scale solar ovens can even cook for hundreds of people at once.

 

History Of Solar Ovens

The history of solar using solar energy for cooking purposes is a few centuries old, although the improvisation and mass-scaling happened in this decade. Ancient populations, like the Greeks, Chinese and Romans used solar power for the military purpose. They used curved glasses to Centrify sunlight and flaming any object.

But the modern history starts with the invention of greenhouses in the 16th century. Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure first used the technology and made a device that was capable of cooking. He placed several glass boxes one inside another and positioned them on a dark surface. In 1894, a restaurant in China started serving food using a solar cooker.

The real breakthrough, however, came in the 1950s, while an MIT researcher Maria Telkes invented present-day solar cooker. It was a protected glass box with four giant reflectors directing sunlight towards it. In 1973, first solar cooker convention was held in China. Nowadays, solar cookers come with impressive efficiency and are being used by millions of people.

 

Why Use A Solar Oven?

Solar Oven Vs Conventional Oven

Solar ovens use the biggest free energy source available, the sun. Which means, with every cooking, you are saving money. Let me give you a simple example, a casserole. It’s free when you cook it in a solar oven. If it takes two hours to cook, the expenditure in gas and electric oven is 0.14$ and 0.32$ dollars respectively. Yeah, I know that’s not much. But when you’re cooking for the whole family instead of one casserole, that too for day after day, the savings will make a big difference.

Solar ovens take a longer time to cook some foods, but for me, it’s a good alternative as long as I have time. You can’t really burn food with a solar oven. Assuring, isn’t it?

 

Safe

Benefits of solar ovens extend to the most important factor, safety. Solar cooking preserves the nutrient of the food. It is also free from cooking fire smokes or fumes emitting from burning oil.

It is also safe for the environment. While burning of fuels is the main reason for increasing carbon footprints, solar ovens keep that out of question. In parks and forests where breaking fire is a regular phenomenon, solar cookers can reduce those incidents because there no fire attached to the cooking.

 

Flexibility

The reason I like the solar cookers most is the flexibility they give. You can actually take a frozen food from the fridge, place them in the cooker, place the cooker in a place where the sun will be up during midday and go to your day job. As there’s no chance of burning food and hour-long cleaning, you can enjoy a well cooked, refreshing meal after coming home.

As solar ovens use sunlight, you do not have to run for fuels or electric grid every time you need cooking. This will come handy if you are camping or live in a remote area.

 

Types Of Solar Oven

There are mainly three types of solar oven, with an additional type being relatively new on the market. We are going to discuss briefly all the four types.

1. Box Solar Oven

This is an insulated box, using the technology of greenhouse. The box at least of aluminum sheet metal, which is glossy and shiny to reflect the sunlight. On top of the box, there’s a glass or transparent plastic to let the sunlight go through. Although named box oven, they also come in circular shapes, the mechanism is the same. They offer more of a slow cooking method, thus being safe. Box solar ovens are the easiest DIY solar ovens. They come in different distinctions like The Colativo, The Kyoto, and The Pyramid cooker.

2. Parabolic Solar Oven

Also known as curved concentrator solar oven, they focus and concentrate all the energy to the bottom of the cooker. The point gets so hot, that you can fry or grill placing the food pot on top of that point. The temperature rise is frequent and they work well in low light conditions. The parabolic heater needs some adjustments before using so that the sunlight gets directed towards the cooking vessel. They’re so efficient, that foods tend to be burned if kept for a longer time than required, like traditional ovens. The can start cooking right after sunrise, without needing the sun to rise high and continue doing so until sunset. Their variations are named as Local Parabolic, Barbaboa, Balcony Cooker, Yellow-Rimmed, Square Cooker, The Papillion, Close-up.

3. Panel Solar Oven

They are the simpler, inexpensive version of solar ovens. As the name suggests, there are aluminum solar panels which directs the sunlight towards the pot. They can be described as a combination of the previous two. While the reflective panels are common to parabolic heaters, they are rather plain than curved. You will have to place the food pot inside a plastic bag, polypropylene or glass box, and place them inside the oven. Panel solar ovens heat up to 250 degrees. They don’t work well in low light and high wind condition, but they are quite valued for the money. They come in different variations like The Cookit, Fun Panel, Aluminized Panel, Marshmallow and Octagon Cooker.

4. Vaccum Tubed Solar Cooker

This one is relatively new on the market, invented by Go-Sun. Bestowed in 2016 CSE innovation award, this one can reach up the highest 550 degrees Fahrenheit temperature, like gas grills. The structure is somewhat untraditional, a vacuum tube made of glass and surrounded by curved reflectors. You have to slide the food into the vacuum. However, the food quantity this solar cooker can handle is relatively lesser.

 

How Does A Solar Oven Work?

The basic principle of a solar oven is, convert the sun lights into heat, and collect and direct it for cooking purpose.

A box heater uses traditional greenhouse effect to cook. The box is open on the top and painted black on the inside of the walls. The top is covered with a glass or plastic. The pot is placed upon the bottom of the box. Sunlight enters through the glass and heats up the bottom. As the walls are black painted they tend to preserve heat. Sometimes, reflectors are provided with the cooker to direct more sunlight to the box.

A parabolic cooker is bigger in size. It uses several curved glasses to collect and direct the sunlight towards a specific point, the bottom of the heater. The cooking pot is positioned slightly above the bottom, an arm holds the pot. The bottom gets very hot and the heat wave moves towards the bottom of the pot. Parabolic cookers work more like a stove and provide better temperature than box solar heaters.

Panel solar cookers combine both box and parabolic technologies. The curved reflectors are positioned above a box. The food pot stays within a plastic bag during the cooking, which traps the heat inside, resembling the top glass of box heater.

 

How Hot A Solar Oven Can Get?

We know how solar ovens work, but how hot they can get, is it enough to cook? Well, Box type solar ovens can reach temperature up to 150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit), which is sufficient to cook meat. Parabolic solar ovens reach even greater temperature, 204 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit). You can even fry and bake foods in this oven. The panel solar ovens can reach 120 degrees Celsius, (250 degrees Fahrenheit), which is good for normal cooking.

 

What Can You Cook Using A Solar Oven?

Cooking with solar oven has become a popular trend and more of a healthy option lately. But, you need to know what type of food you can cook in your solar oven. For example, with a quality oven you can cook almost any item you can think of. But, trying to cook a pot roast in a slow box oven may end in frustration. You have to accept one thing, solar ovens don’t offer you a full alternative to traditional ovens, and you stand a better chance of succeeding with foods that require lesser time to cook.

A good step can be reading the manual and knowing how much temperature the oven can reach to and within how long. This way, you’ll be able to avoid dissatisfaction or underestimating your oven.

If your locale has exposure to a longer period of sunlight, you can try cooking that requires time, like meat or baking bread. As for meat, thinly sliced fish, chicken or red meat stands better chance to be well cooked rather than big chunks.

 

5 Solar Oven Facts That’ll Benefit You

  1. They’ll Surprise You: Although solar ovens are known as slow cooking devices, some high-end ovens i.e. parabolic ovens can reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means they’ll be able to cook meats, steaks within a short time.
  2. They Have Many Variations: As discussed above, there are a lot of variations in the structure of solar ovens. There is no obvious best solar oven design. You can choose one from them according to the cooking time you have, food quantity and budget.
  3. Sustainable Alternative: More than 2.5 billion people on the world cook under the open sky. Mostly, they use woods cut from forests. That’s hundreds of tons of carbon emission we’re talking about. Solar ovens can be the ultimate alternative at a cheap price.
  4. They’re Popular: Solar powered ovens have been popular throughout the world already, especially in China, India and the USA. Best solar oven DIY projects have become one of the top choices of kids in science fairs.
  5. They Can Be Huge: There are solar cookers that cook can food for hundreds. The biggest solar cooker system in the world is situated in India, feeding 15,000 people per day.

 

Solar Ovens Buying Guide

Cooking Ability

Like other types of ovens, you need to determine the cooking ability in order to get a clear picture of what you can cook. There are solar cookers that can cook almost as fast as traditional ovens. You’ll find no difference between the cooking time of them and the traditional ones. With the best solar ovens, you’ll be able to cook anything. They can grill, bake, fry and cook food just like gas or electric ovens.

Intended Use

Before buying a solar oven, the intended use should be clear. Is this an oven you’ll use on daily basis, or this is more like novelty item? Perhaps you are buying it for showing it to the class, or for camping purposes. This is important because the weight will depend on it. If you are buying it for home cooking, you can go for a slightly heavier oven. They are sturdy and the efficacy is equally impressive. There are ovens that can boil water within 10 minutes.

There are portable solar cookers. Although most of them are slow cookers, some come with expected temperature up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you are a camper or trekker, hopefully, you won’t mind a longer cooking time while you enjoy the nature.

Additional Features

The structure and features of each type of solar cooker vary, but there are some common things that add extra comfort for the users. The solar reflectors and cooking area are among common features. However, a good solar oven should come with a thermometer to determine temperature, suitable utensils like pans and pots, a carrying handle. The reflectors should be foldable to aid in portability.

Price And Durability

You should weigh the price and the value it brings before buying a solar oven. This is where durability plays a significant role. The longer an oven goes, the more value it adds for the user. There is a correlation between price and value. High-end ovens can cook faster, saving time and hassle. But they come with a higher price.

A good solar oven will last longer, will be sturdy and the reflective sheets will be corrosion- resistant. It’ll go years with zero maintenance cost and minimal repairing.

Ease Of Assembly And Leveling

Obviously, you won’t want to acquire a piece that’s too much hassle to assemble. A solar oven with clear manual or self-explaining structure should be given preference. The sun doesn’t stay in one place, so you might have to adjust the position of the reflectors. If the process is complex or tiresome, that’ll yield frustration. A quality solar oven should come with leveling stands that help in adjusting the position of the oven towards the sun.

Brand And Spare Parts

Brands matter when it comes to determining the best solar ovens. They have a reputation to maintain and they cannot get away with inferior products. Reputed brands like GoSun, SunFlair, SunCore come with excellent ovens, that too at reasonable price. Usually, their products have hundreds of users, which helps to minimize the average cost of production.

Another important thing you should consider is the availability of spare parts. You don’t want to buy a whole new oven in case any repairing is due. Buying from reputed brands will ensure you get any spare part you need, or better, any small repairing that comes on the way.

Warranty

The warranty period varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. But beware of the cheap solar ovens that come without any warranty. The price might sound tempting, but here’s the thing, you get what you pay for. Standard solar ovens should come with a one-year warranty at least.

Many manufacturers even offer an additional warranty on specific parts of the oven. To sweeten the deal further, you might even get a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not content with the performance.

Solar Oven Comparison Chart

Name Dimensions Weight Temperature Specialty
Sunflair Portable 19 x 15.5 x 2 inches 1 pound 2 ounces 285 Fahrenheit Cheap, Lightweight, Foldable
HotLogic Mini 8.75x 6.75 x 2.5 inches 1.6 pounds 200 Fahrenheit Portable, Lightweight, Sturdy Carrying Bag
All American Sun Oven 22 x 20.2 x 15.3 inches 31 pounds total 400 Fahrenheit Spacious, Multiple Cooking, Dehydrator-Oven Combination.
Solavore Sport 27.2 x 12.2 x 17 inches 8.8 pounds 200-300 Fahrenheit Kid-safe, Sturdy and Durable, Even Cooking Temperature Pot.
SunCore Portable 29x 13x 4.5 inches 11 pounds - Portable, Sundial Adjustment, Built-In Carrying Case.
GoSun Sport 24 x 5 x 8 inches 9.5 pounds 550 Fahrenheit Transportable, High-Temperature, 80% Heat Conversion.
GoSun Grill 25.3 x 12.6 x 11 inches 35 pounds total 425 Fahrenheit Spacious, High-Temperature, Long Warranty

Best Solar Oven Reviews

1. Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe

This is one of the cheap solar ovens for those who are just starting out and want to have the experience without breaking the bank. The Sunflair portable solar oven comes with easy operation, low cost, and portability. Being over just 1 pound, you can fold and carry this oven for camping, picnic or science projects.

The structure consists of three walls made of reflective materials and two racks. You can do grilling and use the pan at the same time. Additional utensils include a carrying bag, a built-in thermometer, two trays, two cooking pots and a 3-pound round toaster.

The device can raise up to 285 degrees Fahrenheit, so don’t expect magic from this one. But, it can conveniently bake fruits, cook chicken, and boil water. This oven can cook for 4 people. What noteworthy is, the oven can collapse to 2 x 15.5 x 19 inches. And the silicon pots collapse to 2 cm. These pots can be used in microwave, dishwasher, and oven securely.

What We Like

1. This solar powered oven is a good addition if you are into camping, hiking, trekking, tail-gating and survival journeys. This oven is as much lightweight as they can and easily fold-able. You can go enjoy the nature or have some sports when the cooking is going on.

2. Works well even under the winter sun. Remember, the oven doesn’t depend on the environmental temperature, instead depends on the UV rays of the sun. On a winter day, the rays can even be more intense because there’s less dust.

3. The Sunflair solar oven has a large surface to cook for several people at once. The cell insulation reflectors let the food cook without needing any fuel or electricity. The product comes with a good warranty, above that, an opportune money back guarantees if you don’t like it.

What Could Be Better

1. This is, however, a low-tech solution. Works well if given time, but don’t expect miracles like cooking a steak within an hour.

2. HotLogic Mini Personal Portable Oven

The Hotlogic Mini Personal Oven is a combination of a cooker and regular oven. A lot of times we expect to have a microwave to heat our foods or fewer competitors at the office on that microwave oven. Hotlogic comes with a suitable structure, you can pack the food, zip it and enjoy hot lunch by noon.

The package is basically an insulated tote combiner with aluminum lining. The whole setup comes with a flat-bottomed metal container (the main heating element), plastic, glass and ceramic containers. The bag can facilitate containers up to 8.75"W x 6.75"L x 2.5"H dimensions. The carry handles aids in portability.

The weight of this oven is only 1.5 pounds. The oven uses slow induction method to heat up the food. The temperature reaches 200-degree Fahrenheit. It’s not much, but users said they were able to cook boneless chicken or hamburger within an hour.

What We Like

1. The price is very convenient for buyers with a tight budget. The product is good value for the money, lightweight and portable anywhere thanks to the nylon bag and strong handle. The product was made abiding North American Electrical Standard.

2. You can save time on lunch break because you don’t have to line up for the microwave. This is both oven and cooker. This small, compact oven allows you to cook food while driving. It liberates you from worrying about irregular heating that microwaves do, burning food and cleaning the messy pots later.

3. The bag is made of sturdy nylon, and there are insulators at the inside part of the bag. The heat reflective interior and the silver linings allow the food stay hot for a long time. The product comes with a double zipper and is UL CSA certified.

What Could Be Better

1. While this one is a bang for the buck, there is something you should be careful about. It can pose a threat of fire if not maintained properly, so keep it outside the reach of children and pets.

3. All American Sun Oven

The great thing about All American Sun Oven is you get 2 at the price of one. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can buy this and get it done with both oven and dehydrator. The popular, sturdy looking oven can reach up to 400-degree Fahrenheit, you sure can do a lot of cooking by the day!

The package is a complete one and comes with a lot of things. 2 stack pots, 2 loaf pans and 2 baking rack set leave nothing out of the cooking equation. The box type solar oven was made to accommodate larger pots and containers, even at 9 x 13 inches. It can conveniently cook for a family.

The stakes help it mounted in the wind. The package also includes 70 feet parchment paper which is environment-friendly. The baking set and dehydrating rack are multi-level to facilitate greater quantity at once. The water pasteurizing indicator helps determine whether the water is pasteurized or not.

What We Like

1. This is the environment and cost-friendly solution you have been looking for. You can use it to cook food for your family. You can even use it for picnic and gathering, especially places where there is a fire ban.

2. The product is made in the USA. With this oven, you can cook pretty much everything. As the temperature rises gradually, there isn’t any real threat of burning foods. With the racks, you can perform multiple cooking at the same time.

3. The ground stakes and legs are align-able so you can adjust them any way you want. The oven folds easily and later can be carried with a handle. For more convenience, the package includes clear manual and CDs, so no head scratching over assembling it.

What Could Be Better

1. Although you can cook great quantity and that too simultaneously, it comes with a drawback. To facilitate the great features and temperature, the weight comes at 31 pounds. This might seem heavy to many.

4. Solavore Sport Solar Oven

Contrary to usual solar ovens, this one is a Kid-safe solar oven. This is a high-end oven that is easy to assemble, use and effective enough to use for family cooking. The solar oven is fairly lightweight at 9 pounds, and come with a 600D polyester case, so you can carry it for a tailgate party of camping.

Unlike common solar ovens, Solavore sports solar oven doesn’t use reflective panels to gather heat. However, they come as additional parts, so you can attach them if you want. The device comprises of sturdy plastic and double layer lid, which helps in the retention of the heat.

Although the oven isn’t for grilling, it reaches 300 Fahrenheit temperature range, suitable to cook anything. You can do boiling, cooking and even baking with this oven. The oven facilitates 9 x 17 inches space at the bottom for baking purpose.

What We Like

1. Made in the USA, this is one of the commercial solar ovens, which you can use all year long. The TR-86 high-grade mirrors are corrosion-proof and stay shiny all year long. The smooth finishing catches UV rays well even on colder days.

2. The dual 3-quart GraniteWare pots help cooking at an even temperature, which is difficult with tradition ovens, to be honest. They’re also easy to clean and reuse. The attached free-standing thermometer and water pasteurization indicator help to determine what’s going on inside.

3. This a is kids and pet-friendly oven. The glass lid prevents and heat to come out when shut, and quality plastic body traps the heat inside. As the reflectors come as an add-on, you can determine whether to attach them, thus determining the cooking speed too.

What Could Be Better

1. The device comes with a slightly higher price tag. So you need to be sure beforehand whether or not you really need an alternative to the traditional oven.

5. SunCore Portable Solar Cooker Oven by Emergency Zone

This is among those high-quality portable solar ovens that don’t fall short in comparison to gas or electric ovens. Suncore portable solar cooker by Emergency zone comes with sundial indicator. This innovative technology helps the user determine the best angle for maximum sunlight exposure and internal heat circulation.

The package comes with industrial grade stainless steel inner tube, where you slide the food to be cooked. You can adjust the panels to focus the heat towards the tube. The setup also comes with a built-in thermometer so that you can determine the inner temperature.

The dimension of this solar oven is 29x 13x 4.5 inches. The design is easily foldable. This self-contained design helps the user carry this oven to any camp, picnic or backyard parties. Coming at 11 pounds, you’ll find this oven solid, robust and durable.

What We Like

1. The mechanism and the temperature give you performance like any home oven. The reflectors can be adjusted according to the reading of the sundial. A built-in thermometer will let you know you’ve aimed the panels right.

2. This is a perfect solar oven for fishing, hiking, hunting and RVing, making sure you never run short of freshly cooked food. This oven works well throughout the whole year, even with low light settings, as long as the sun is up.

3. The built-in carrying case is a beauty! You do not have to buy any additional accessories with the package. The stainless steel reflective panels are corrosion proof and go for years without needing any real maintenance.

What Could Be Better

1. Some users weren’t content with the way the tray handles water. They said the tray isn’t completely water resistant. This is something they can work on in the next versions.

7. GoSun Grill

This is one of the best solar cookers out there. To be specific, this is a beast we’re talking about. This solar grill can cook a greater volume of food, conveniently for eight people, that too at a higher temperature. If you are bored with the childish play and really want something reliable to cook foods your family love, go for GoSun solar grill.

This is a bigger, more effective version of GoSun sports. No wonder this one comes with a hefty price tag, so if you’re not sure about the money, the previous one can be the alternative. This oven reaches the temperature of 425 degrees Fahrenheit, so just not meat, this one cooks vegetables, makes stew even bakes bread for the family.

Being designed in Ohio, USA, the structure is a true state of the art. The structure introduces a vacuum tube which contains food need to be cooked. The award-winning design converts almost 80% of the sunlight it receives into heat. This feature makes this oven one to rely even on a challenging day.

What We Like

1. With GoSun solar grill, you do not need to worry about burning food. The oven raises the temperature in a manner that the food stays near to its original form. Just set the food and go back to whatever you were doing. Check it on every 2-3 hours.

2. The food stays juicy and cooks evenly, thanks to the unique vacuum design which circulates the heat. No carbon crud emits from the grill, it’s something that’ll help you carry and clean this grill after every cooking.

3. The manufacturers were strappingly confident about their product. That’s why this solar oven comes with two years of no questions asked warranty. At 35 pounds, this is not a toy to carry around, but still portable enough due to the robust design.

What Could Be Better

1. Not that we can think of. The price might go beyond the budget for people with financial restrictions. But once you buy it, it won’t forget to save you the money back.

7. GoSun Grill

This is one of the best solar cookers out there. To be specific, this is a beast we’re talking about. This solar grill can cook a greater volume of food, conveniently for eight people, that too at a higher temperature. If you are bored with the childish play and really want something reliable to cook foods your family love, go for GoSun solar grill.

This is a bigger, more effective version of GoSun sports. No wonder this one comes with a hefty price tag, so if you’re not sure about the money, the previous one can be the alternative. This oven reaches the temperature of 425 degrees Fahrenheit, so just not meat, this one cooks vegetables, makes stew even bakes bread for the family.

Being designed in Ohio, USA, the structure is a true state of the art. The structure introduces a vacuum tube which contains food need to be cooked. The award-winning design converts almost 80% of the sunlight it receives into heat. This feature makes this oven one to rely even on a challenging day.

What We Like

1. With GoSun solar grill, you do not need to worry about burning food. The oven raises the temperature in a manner that the food stays near to its original form. Just set the food and go back to whatever you were doing. Check it on every 2-3 hours.

2. The food stays juicy and cooks evenly, thanks to the unique vacuum design which circulates the heat. No carbon crud emits from the grill, it’s something that’ll help you carry and clean this grill after every cooking.

3. The manufacturers were strappingly confident about their product. That’s why this solar oven comes with two years of no questions asked warranty. At 35 pounds, this is not a toy to carry around, but still portable enough due to the robust design.

What Could Be Better

1. Not that we can think of. The price might go beyond the budget for people with financial restrictions. But once you buy it, it won’t forget to save you the money back.

Wrapping It Up

Although named solar ovens, these devices don’t work exactly like other solar products do. While most of the solar products use solar panels, convert sunlight into electrical energy to run, solar ovens convert sun lights into heat. As there isn’t any sort of battery to store power, this a device truly relying on sunlight all the way.

You would probably like to have one if you have sunlight for most of the year in your region. It will also come handy during picnic, camping and for those living in remote cabins and houses. This can be a nice alternative to your traditional ovens because there’s no cost associated with buying the oven. You are cooking without cost, and that’ll pay your investment within a few months. There are some ovens that deliver no less than traditional ovens.

In our article, we have restrained us in reviewing only those best solar ovens and nothing else. Each of them comes with great after sales services like warranty and money back guarantee, so you really don’t stand any chance of losing your investment. As for experience, they are rated high by Amazon users and we’ll hope they’ll not disappoint you. Happy Cooking!

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