7 Best Solar Ovens in 2021 (Review)
Solar technology is one of the most innovative inventions of the 21st century. Solar tech is reaching every part of our lives, and it is here to stay. Even though solar cookers are not a recent invention, new and creative designs have been increasing their efficiency and aesthetics throughout the years.
More and more companies are venturing into creating solar cooking appliances, and solar ovens are not a student project or a low-budget solution anymore. Mid-range and high-end solar ovens are starting to provide some top features that make them more appealing to the average consumer.
That’s why we’ve gathered a list of the best solar ovens of 2021 for you to look out for and consider for your next outdoor or camping adventure.
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The Best Solar Ovens
1. GoSun Go Camp Solar Cooker
GoSun Go is the most portable and elegant solar-powered oven ever. Using only the sun, this ultra-lightweight oven can cook, bake, steam, and boil anywhere.
Once opened, using its sophisticated parabolic reflectors, it focuses the sunlight onto a tube, heating the cooking chamber. As the tube is vacuum-sealed, it is the perfect insulator, converting up to 80% of sunlight energy into heat.
GoSun Go’s cooking chamber can reach up to 288 °C (550°F), cooking meals on its stainless-steel cooking tray in 20-45 minutes. To serve or heat several dishes on the same tray, you can use the included silicone cooking pans. To boil water, all that you need to do is remove the cooking tray and fill the cooking chamber with water.
The unit is packed in a durable EVA foam hard-shell case for easy and portable on-the-go set up. The frame integrates an external kickstand so you can find the perfect solar angle.
Additionally, the frame integrates a universal action mount that can accommodate different mounting accessories, such as a camera or go-pro mounting brackets to set the Go up anywhere you need it.
2. Sun Ovens International Solar Oven
A powerful option for solar ovens is the box solar cooker of All American Sun Oven. This robust and portable solar oven can reach cooking temperatures between 360-400°F (180-200 °C) within minutes of direct sun exposure.
The oven comes with a built-in thermometer and reflects the light through its collapsible reflectors, which can be folded in for easy carrying of the unit. The interior of the box comes with a dual purpose leveling rack that hangs inside the oven as a cooking surface and swings freely to prevent spilling.
The bottom part of the oven is designed to provide and hold a lot of heat, increasing the overall cooking efficiency.
The cooker box includes a self-contained leveling leg to maximize the solar angle of the panels. On purchase, the cooker also includes the Sun Oven Digital Cookbook, featuring 40 recipes.
The Sun Oven cooker weighs around 23 pounds (10 kg.) and it comes with a carrying handle, making it great portable solar power camping gear.
3. GoSun Sport Pro Pack Portable Solar Oven
GoSun Sport Pack is one of the best solar ovens for cooking while on a picnic, and a perfect match to be combined with other eco-friendly gear, such as a solar lantern for a camping trip. The pack comes in a sports carrying bag and the oven can bake, roast, or steam a meal for 2 in under 20 minutes under direct sunlight.
The GoSun Sport portable solar oven uses the same design as the Go. It reflects the sun’s energy into the cooking chamber of the unit that holds the stainless-steel cooking tray, and the vacuum seal of the chamber absorbs the solar energy and transforms it into heat for cooking.
It can reach temperatures of up to 550°F (288 °C) depending on sunlight and weather conditions, cooking meals in under 30 minutes of sun exposure.
The kit includes a sport padded carrying case for secure travel and transportation, an extra cooking tray so you can prep your next meal while cooking, non-sticking silicone pans, and a brewing accessory to boil water if needed.
4. Sunspot Solar Oven
Nasco is an online teaching website and e-shop with over 75 years in the market. It helps teachers and brings innovative solutions to classrooms. Its Sunspot Solar Oven offers a glimpse of the solutions and lessons displayed in their catalogs.
This Sunspot Solar Oven kit can be bought as part of its teaching course “Solar cooking, Vol. 19”. The PDF lesson plan helps teachers to explain the benefits of optical and thermal energy in a fun and didactic way. It includes the teacher’s guide for the class.
This portable solar oven can reach up to 350 degrees F (180 °C) behind the heat-retaining oven window at the solar collector, and it is built so that kids can interact with it in a classroom to learn about the possibilities of solar energy.
The compact solar oven is lightweight and simple to set up and operate. It needs to be directly pointed into the sun to reach its operating temperature. Its panels are collapsible and fold to 4 x 10 x 10 inches (10 x 25 x 25 cm) for easy storage.
5. Haines 2.0 SunUp Solar Cooker
The Haines 2.0 Solar Cooker is the second version of the brand Haines solar ovens, a Washington-based company committed to the promotion and education of solar cooking.
The Haines 2.0 has an improved efficiency and high performance, with new added features and improvements. The product combines the best of the panel and parabolic cookers to create a unique design.
The Haines reflector is made out of high-temperature reflective metalized polyester (MPET) foam material, making it hydrophobic. It will not oxidize and cannot be scratched off. This material is easy to recycle and environmentally safe, making the production pollution-free.
The reflector consists of two pieces that snap together for quick assembly into a parabolic collector of 30 inches (76 cm) in diameter.
In order to cook a meal, you have to place the included Haines steel cooking pot above the UV-resistant polycarbonate cooking sleeve to elevate it, so sunlight can be reflected into the bottom of the pot, and add an insulating layer of air to retain heat above the pot.
Finally, as with the cooking sleeve, a second insulating layer is added through the UV-resistant cover to maximize the heat absorption.
6. Sunflair Mini Portable Solar Oven
Sunflair’s Mini portable solar cooker is a revolutionary foldable and lightweight portable oven, perfect for hiking, fishing, RVs, or any other outdoor activity.
The oven can reach up to 285 degrees F (140 °C) depending on the season solar irradiation, location, and sunlight. This makes it a great option for boiling water, cook white rice, cooking hot dogs or baking apples.
The entire kit weighs around 1.75 lbs. (790 g) and folds into a 3-ring binder size. This is one of the handiest portable solar ovens options for packing and storing. The kit includes one solar thermometer, one trivet, a collapsible silicone pot painted in black for maximum heat absorption, and a handy bag.
Its easy-to-pack-and-unfold design makes it one of the best solar kits for RVs. The permeable pack of the unit means it can even float in extreme conditions, so it’s a great option for an emergency or survival kit.
This solar powered oven is a great choice for the environment as it is recyclable and pollution-free.
7. KECOP Solar Oven
Another great option for camping and outdoor activities is the KECOP Solar Oven, a practical and portable solar oven which can cook meals very quickly (under 15 minutes of full sun exposure). It doesn’t cause any smoke or chemical emissions. If it is a sunny day, you will have a hot meal wherever you need it.
This oven can reach high temperatures of 550 degrees F (288 °C) in full sunlight, and its reflectors and the high capacity cooking chamber effectively capture ultraviolet light and hold the created heat where the food is cooking.
The cooking tray and the metal holders of the chamber are made out of 304 food-grade stainless-steel for easy-to-clean utensils. Additionally, the self-healing polymers maximize the effects of the sun and ensure the durability of the mirrors.
The All unit is self-contained in a portable and rigid carrying bag for easy transportation, weighing just 11.24 pounds (5.1 kg.), and ready to use by simply unzipping the luggage. This makes it one of the best solar cooker options for family activities.
Solar Ovens – Buying Guide and FAQ
5 Features to Look for in Solar Ovens
One of the first things you want to know is how much food your oven can heat. The capacity is usually determined by the cooking pot, the volume of the cooking chamber for a vacuum tube oven, or the internal dimensions of a box cooker. Often, the capacity can be specified in cups for when you’re boiling water.
As with all outdoor and camping equipment, the main factor to look out for in solar oven units is weight and portability. For an outdoor adventure, you will need to consider the best equipment for easy carrying and storage in a bag, while on a camping holiday or a picnic, you will might want an easy-to-carry large solar oven for cooking big meals. How the unit folds, stores itself, and lends itself to being carried is just as important as its food capacity.
When cooking at home, one of the most important things to look out for is the temperature of the oven. For solar ovens, it’s just the same. The maximum reachable temperature is handy for working this out, but a nice feature to look out for is an integrated solar oven thermometer. This will let you know the exact working temperature. Some models have cooking temperature ranges which can also be useful to determine minimum values under direct sunlight scenarios.
Most of a solar cooker’s efficiency depends on the insulation of the cooking section of the oven. The insulation is usually a pocket of air, or in the case of the vacuum tube solar ovens, an empty space (more energy efficient) which traps the heat generated by the reflected sunlight and prevents it from escaping the zone where it’s needed the most. When there is good insulation in the oven, the conserved heat translates into faster and more efficient cooking.
Leveling and adjusting accessories
Solar ovens need to harvest solar energy just as all solar panels do. Thus, they need to point at the right angle to work as efficiently as possible. This is why leveling and adjusting accessories, which allow you to maximize the solar angle incident on the oven, are a really important feature.
Solar Ovens FAQ
Q: What types of Solar Ovens exist?
A: There are 4 main categories for solar ovens.
Solar panel cooker
This type of oven utilizes reflective panels to focus the sunlight onto one spot to increase the heat of a pot or a pan. This type of design is the simplest and least expensive as it is simple to build and can be made out of any reflective material. Many home projects are designed this way.
Box Solar Ovens
Box solar ovens have an insulated box at their core. This is where the cooking accessories lie, and where the reflectors point to. Most of the time, the box is covered with transparent glass for better insulation of the cooking area.
Parabolic Solar Ovens
Parabolic ovens use a concentric curved reflector to concentrate the sunlight onto the back and sides of a cooking pot or any cookware. The cookware is elevated by a holder right at the center of the oven to fully harvest the energy of the sun.
Vacuum tube solar oven
This type of design is the most innovative one as it uses a vacuum tube as a cooking chamber to fully utilize solar energy. The vacuum tube insulates the cooking chamber on the inside, retaining more heat while cooking. It can be combined with the best reflector design to complete a technological unit that can reach up to 550 degrees F (287 °C)
Each design has its pros and cons, but the most efficient one is the vacuum tube oven, because it captures a wider spectrum of light. Unsurprisingly, it is the most expensive one.
Q: Can I cook everything in a Solar Oven?
A: Cooking in a solar oven is a bit different to cooking in a conventional oven. It isn’t as easy as turning the gas on and preheating the oven. With a sun oven, you will probably need a specialized cook book so you can explore different solar oven recipes and experiment with them. Once you get used to solar cooking, you will be able to plan your meals and become an elite chef.
Q: How long does it take for my meal to cook?
A: It all depends on the sunlight and the oven’s operating temperature. That’s why the best way to start experimenting with a solar oven is to follow a recipe book intended for solar ovens. Most recipes can be ready in 1-2 hours of cooking, and with practice, you will be able to invent your own!
Q: How long does it take to boil water?
A: Most solar cookers can reach the boiling temperature of water of 212°F (100 °C), but how long the water will take to boil depends on the amount of water and the strength of the sunlight. With good sunlight and at the rated water capacity of the oven, the water should boil in 30-45 minutes.
Q: How often do I have to adjust the angle of the oven to the sun?
A: It depends on the design of your solar oven; a parabolic design may require less adjustment than a panel cooker. Nonetheless, it’s good practice to adjust the oven to the optimum sun’s azimuth and tilt its angle, just as you would do with Renogy solar modules, which are among the best solar panels to use when camping.