Solar technology is one of the most exciting inventions of the 21st century and it’s fast becoming a regular feature in a lot of modern homes and buildings. In fact, solar energy can be used to power pretty much everything in your home including your cooking appliances. The best part is that solar ovens specifically are versatile enough for both in and outdoor use.
While the sun is a solar oven’s main source of energy, you can still use it even if it’s cloudy. Most of the solar ovens available on the market today have the same heating capacity as your normal gas or electric oven, which means that you can use them to cook, boil, bake, steam and grill food with ease.
Plus, there are many other advantages that you can enjoy from using a solar-powered oven, from saving tons of money in electricity costs to being able to carry them around anywhere.
Unlike outdoor grills and camping stoves that come with a fire hazard warning, solar ovens are completely safe and are the perfect cooking tool to keep for emergency purposes.
What to Look for in a Solar Oven
A lot of different models and brands have been introduced to the market since the release of the first solar oven. As with any purchase, too many options can make it difficult for you to decide on what to buy. One thing that helps is to look at the oven’s size, its features, cooking ability and warranty terms to make sure that it suits your needs.
- Cooking Ability
As mentioned above, solar ovens pretty much have the same cooking ability as normal gas or electric ovens. You can adjust the temperature as you like and cook your food for as long as you like without any limits in cooking time.
Plus, solar ovens can handle all the cooking tasks that you can imagine, from boiling and baking to grilling and frying. This means you’ll be able to use your oven to make fries, bake cookies, prepare desserts, full meals etc.
Again, most solar ovens come with the standard features that you’ve come to expect from conventional models, and then some! There’s the usual cooking surface and solar reflectors so you know where to place your pots and where the controls are. However, some companies will go the extra mile to include features like a built-in thermometer, collapsible reflectors, a carrying handle and even cooking pans, dishes and utensils.
Of course, size is important too and will largely depend on how you’ll be using the oven. For example, there are people who should stick with a smaller model because they’re only looking for something that they can use for emergency cases.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a solar oven to use for daily cooking, baking, frying and boiling, then it only makes sense to invest in a larger model. But then again, if you want the oven for indoor-outdoor use then a smaller size will still be good even if you plan on using it regularly.
As a rule, any oven that you purchase should be backed by a standard one-year manufacturer’s warranty minimum! Now, you might be lucky to get extras like a 30-day cash back guarantee or a repair warranty for certain components on the oven.
Solar ovens are a versatile cooking appliance that you can use to prepare food both in and outdoors, while still being suitable for emergency preparedness. The best part is that you won’t ever have to worry about an increasing gas or electricity bill when using them because they virtually get their energy from the sun which is free, and they’re portable to boot!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cooking with a Solar Oven
Solar cooking is often likened to using a crockpot because it requires careful and methodical planning. For example, you have to be cognizant of the weather when you’re cooking and be aware that while you might enjoy a full day of cooking on a sunny day, extreme cloud cover can cut your cooking time short.
Of course, you can still heat food relatively well on your solar oven when it’s slightly overcast with a few clouds here and there. But the problem comes when there’s absolutely no heat coming through from the sun. So don’t be surprised if you get situations where you have to finish cooking on your electric or gas stove just because there wasn’t enough sun on the day to get the job done on your solar cooker.
You’ll also find through experience that cooking with the sun takes a bit of trial and error. For example, an oven that’s set at 280 degrees may not be able to retain that same temperature throughout the cooking cycle.
Your solar oven will also be out of action on weeks that have successive rainy days, and you really have to check in on your food more often to make sure that the internal temperature of the oven is the same as your initial temperature settings.
Basically, there will be some hits and misses when using a solar oven and you have to keep an eye on it a lot more than you would with a conventional stove. With that said, this is a small price to pay when you consider all the benefits that the solar over has to offer.
- Once you get over the initial learning curve, you’ll find that cooking on a solar oven is super easy and simple
- It will reduce your electric and gas bill
- It’s the ideal solution for emergency preparedness, camping and off-grid living
- It “green” and good for the environment
- It’s a cool and interesting way to cook
- It will take some time for you to adjust to cooking with it
- Some of the best solar ovens are often expensive to buy
- Weather patterns will affect your ability to cook with your oven
- It’s not always convenient
Top 5 Solar Ovens and Cookers
Keep the points mentioned above firmly in mind when shopping for a solar oven or cooker, as they’ll help you figure out which model to choose. To help you along, we’ve compiled a list of five solar cooking appliances that you can use for both indoor and outdoor cooking. Most of them come with nice extras as well, while still being fully or partially portable.
Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe with Complete Cookware
- #1 Portable Solar Oven from Alaska to Afghanistan! Cook from sun-up to sundown.
- The most versatile solar oven on the market. Bake cookies or pizza. Dry fruits and herbs. Can accommodate a wide variety of cookware. No assembly required. Easy to use. Sets up and stores in seconds.
- Everything included to start cooking: 1 solar oven thermometer, 2 heat-conducting/baking trays, 2 baking/dehydrating racks, 1 enamelware pot, 2 silicone pots, and a handy carrying bag
- Oven weighs only 1 lb, 2 oz! Durable and portable for Camping, Boating, RV-ing, Tailgating, Emergency Preparedness, Crafts: candle-making, modeling clay
- Sunflair donates a portion of our proceeds toward providing a safer, healthier, and greener cooking experience for all, both here at home and across the globe.
Sunflair’s portable solar oven is highly accessible and easy to use. It’s made from a lightweight and flexible material that makes it easy to fold and move it around. This means that you can carry it with you in fishing, camping and backpacking excursions. Plus, it can reach temperatures of up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit – perfect for light meals on the go!
That said, it might take longer for you to cook chicken on this than it does on a normal oven, for example. However, it works great for roasting nuts, drying herbs, fruits and vegetables, as well as cooking and baking foods that you don’t mind waiting for anyway like cookies, bread and stews.
We definitely recommend this solar oven for someone who’s new to cooking with solar because the initial investment is small and you get to cook with the sun’s energy! However, the best part about this oven is that it’s fully portable and comes with features like dehydrating racks, baking trays, a built-in thermometer, silicon pots, enamelware and even a carrying bag for when you want to transport it from one spot to another.
- Lightweight and easy to carry around
- Affordable and ideal for solar cooking newbies
- Comes with lots of extras in the form of cooking accessories and built-in features
- It can handle quite a lot of food compared to its size and weight
- It has a temperature limit of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is quite low
- It mainly works well when it’s nice and sunny out
What sets the Fondchy Grill apart is its ease of use. As the name implies, this cooker is ready to go when you are, and only requires that you point it towards the sun in order to start cooking. It has the ability to perform a versatile number of functions from cooking and baking to steaming, sautéing and roasting.
We also love the fact that you don’t have to rely on full sun in order to use this unit because it operates just as well on ultraviolet light as it does on full sunlight. You’ll be glad to know that this cooker has a heating capacity of up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit which is complemented by super-fast cooking speeds!
To ensure even cooking throughout, the Fondchy Grill features a heat-retaining vacuum tube that keeps the unit cool on the outside, while the food stays nice and warm way after you’ve switched it off.
The vacuum tube is also what’s responsible for ensuring that the Fondchy Grill doesn’t cause a fire hazard when you’re using it at extremely high temperatures. Plus, you can fold it up into a portable narrow tube that weighs just over seven ½ pounds. All of these features make this grill an all-rounder that’s suitable for both beginners and seasoned solar cooks!
- Cooks just as well with ultraviolet light as it does with full sunlight
- On really sunny days, this baby has a heating capacity of 550 degrees F
- Features a vacuum tube that helps the food retain its heat while keeping the exterior of the unit cool to the touch
- Incredibly lightweight and easy to pack up and carry
- Easy to clean and maintain
- You’ll have to dice your food into tiny bits in order to fit it inside the cooking chamber, which is rather small
GoSun Solar Grill
If you’re looking for an upgrade from the smaller and slightly limited Sport model from GoSun then this Solar Grill is it. Not only can it handle larger food volumes but it also comes with all the features that we’ve come to know and love on the GoSun Sport.
Yes, it’s on the pricier side when you compare it with its smaller cousin but you certainly get what you pay for. People who’ve used it rave about how evenly and quickly it cooks, plus it keeps your food warm while remaining cool to the touch no matter what temperature it’s at, thanks to GoSun’s signature vacuum tube.
This means that you won’t have to worry about this unit being a fire hazard either and even though it weighs 30 pounds, it’s still durable and portable enough to bring with you when boating or camping. Basically, if you’re looking for the best of the best in solar ovens, this one’s for you!
- This unit can handle food for up to eight people
- It can reach temperatures of up to 550 degrees F while staying cool to the touch
- It heats evenly regardless of whether there’s full or partial sun
- It will keep your food hot long after you’ve taken it off the heat thanks to the vacuum tube feature
- Although it weighs 30 pounds, this unit is still portable enough to take camping with you if you like
- It’s rather pricey
- It’s not portable enough to fit into your backpack when traveling with it
Sunflair Mini Portable Solar Oven
- Regularly 99.99. #1 Portable Solar Oven from Alaska to Afghanistan! Cook from sun-up to sundown.
- Includes: 1 solar oven thermometer, 1 trivet, 1 collapsible silicone pot, and a handy stuff bag. No assembly required. Easy to use. Sets up and stores in seconds.
- Cook where open flames are not allowed. Possible to cook in some vehicles. (Cook Responsibly!)
- World's lightest and easiest solar oven; floats and dries quickly; folds to the size of a laptop; hiking, boating, fishing, beach, construction sites, RV-ing, tiny houses, camper trailers, educational learning, emergencies, bug out bags, and zombie apocalypse.
- Sunflair donates a portion of our proceeds toward providing a safer, healthier, and greener cooking experience for all, both here at home and across the globe.
This unit is very similar to the Sunflair model that we listed above with the only difference being that it’s way tinier. In fact, it’s so small that you can fold it up.
Its compact size means that the manufacturer could only do so much with the design so it doesn’t feature that many features or accessories. This makes it an ideal choice for an outdoorsy hiker, camper, angler or boating enthusiast that needs something reliable to cook with while enjoying their excursion.
It’s also a good option for emergency preparedness as you can use it as a backup during unexpected power outages, plus it’s super affordable and easy to use – even for beginners!
- Very reasonably priced
- Easy to use and ideal for beginners
- Super lightweight and portable
- You won’t be able to cook for the whole family on this
- It doesn’t reach high temperatures regardless of the weather conditions so you might have to wait a while before some of your food gets ready
Solavore Sport Solar Oven
- USER FRIENDLY - Easy to use, durable, and kid-safe! No glass or hot surfaces, and the external housing is pressure-molded from post-industrial recycled plastic.
- LIGHTWEIGHT - Our Oven only weighs 9 pounds and now comes with a rugged 600D polyester carrying case to ease carrying even more. The case has a two-way zipper, Velcro-closure reflector pouch, shoulder strap, and double carry handles.
- COOK FOR A CROWD - Comes with two 3-quart GraniteWare pots, which allows for even-temperature cooking and easy clean up.
- ALL SEASON COOKING - Detachable all-season TR-86 High Performance Reflector with corrosion-proof mirror-like finish giving you the capability to cook in the summer or winter.
- MADE IN THE USA - The perfect solar oven, whether you're baking brownies, slow-cooking stew, or roasting ribs.
This solar oven from Solavore is a high-capacity cooker that can reach temperatures of up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is plenty of heat for slow-cooking purposes. It also sports a large cooking surface that you can use to prepare meals that cater for more than just a handful of people.
It’s built as a heat-retaining cooker that’s able to roast, simmer, bake, dehydrate, fry and even pasteurize! Now if that’s not versatile, we don’t know what is.
We also love the fact that this oven is designed to ensure that food maintains its original color, flavor and nutrient density.
You can also rest assured that this unit will stay cool to the touch throughout the cooking cycle, making it a safe option for families with kids because it doesn’t pose a fire hazard. And it’ll probably last much longer than expected thanks to its rugged nylon plastic build.
Other interesting features worth noting include a built-in thermometer, a water pasteurization indicator, a removable TR-86 high-performance reflector, 2x ten-inch graniteware pots and a user manual complete with great recipes!
With dimensions of 1 ft. long and 1 ½ ft. wide, this unit is perfect for large meal preparation, indoor/outdoor use and slow cooking purposes.
- This solar oven is designed to never overcook food
- It’s built tough to last, which is not always the case with solar ovens
- Comes with many awesome accessories
- Don’t buy this if you’re planning on preparing quick meals. It’s more suitable for slow cooking purposes
- It’s heavy and not very portable
- Customer reviews suggest that this oven requires full sun exposure in order to cook while the GoSun model we featured above can cook even if there’s partial cover
Cooking with solar power is not only progressive but incredibly easy these days. Modern solar cookers are constantly evolving and can work just as well as the conventional gas and electric cookers that you’re used to.
They can cook at the same speed, temperatures and even handle the same food capacity as most other ovens, and they’re portable as well! The only downside is that models vary in terms of these features, and sometimes the consumer has to sacrifice heating and food capacity for portability.
That said, one model comes close to ticking all the boxes and that’s the GoSun Solar Grill. It can handle large food volumes, reach high temperatures of 550 degrees, retains heat while remaining cool to the touch, and it’s portable.