Solar ovens are a popular cooking choice for those who have the right environmental conditions.
In this guide, I’ll discuss what to consider when buying a solar oven and suggestions of the ones that work best for prepper’s.
First let’s cover the basic pros and cons.
- 1 Pros of Solar Ovens
- 2 Cons of Solar Ovens
- 3 Finding The Right Oven For You
- 4 1. Sun Oven
- 5 2. GoSun Sport
- 6 3. Solavore Sport Solar Oven
- 7 4. Rand Solar Vacuum Tube Solar Oven
- 8 5. Sunflair Portable Oven and Dehydrator
- 9 6. SolCook All Season Solar Oven
- 10 So do I really need a solar oven?
- 11 Suggested Recipes & Cooking Ideas
Pros of Solar Ovens
- A solar oven offers a cooking choice when there is little or no firewood or other cooking fuel. You can also use them during dry conditions without the fear of a fire getting out of control. When it comes to camping, there are plenty of areas that don’t allow camp fires but they do allow camping stoves and solar cookers.
- Solar ovens are eco friendly and simple to use.
- A solar oven allows you to cook meals without heating your house up during the summer months which can save you on energy costs and make your home more comfortable over all. This is like having a crock pot that doesn’t burn electricity at all!
- Solar ovens can be used to heat water for cleaning and hygiene. Some ovens like the Solavore even have a pasteurized water indicator to let you know when water is sanitized. This water can be cooled and used to drink. If you have clear water then this can make your water filter last longer. Of course if water is muddy or has sediment you are not going to want to just pasteurize.
Cons of Solar Ovens
- Solar ovens need sunlight. During the winter months and short days they are not practical for those living in more northern climates for a large part of the year. They might be great for part of the year but when you are really craving a hot meal on a cold day you are going to be out of luck if you expect to cook really fast.
- For meals early in the day, they are not going to deliver, so breakfast is a meal you will have to either bake ahead of time or find some other way.
- Solar ovens are expensive compared to a camp stove that runs on wood or propane fuel and they do not cook as fast.
- Some solar ovens are small and not necessarily big enough for some families. The Sun Oven is one example of a solar oven that is made to accommodate large pans and bigger cooking jobs. If an oven costs less then it may be because it is smaller so pay attention to size when planning what to get.
Finding The Right Oven For You
Solar ovens can cost as much as a real stove so it is important to weight the positives and negatives of many different ovens. You might be perfectly happy with the $100 oven or you may just want one for occasional use. Plenty of us are probably curious but not quite ready to invest $300 on something we are not sure we will want to or like to use. You can rely on Backdoor Survival to help you find a great solar oven and get started on some fabulous outdoor cooking on or off the grid!
1. Sun Oven
One thing to love about the[Sun Oven is that you can reach temps up to 360-400 degrees so you can get a lot of cooking done when the sun is out! This is a great system but the price tag makes this something that you need to be sure you really want. If you don’t have a dehydrator already then you can just buy a solar oven and get the best of both worlds if you at least have the dehydrating racks.
We recommend getting the Sun Oven Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package because it has everything you need to get started using a solar oven including a recipe book with 600 recipes you can start making immediately.
You also get 2 stackable pots with lids, 2 loaf pans, baking racks, and dehydrating racks. This means you can take care of dehydrating and cooking needs with one thing instead of two. Customers report that this oven will cook on colder days but to allow for longer cooking times.
The Sun Oven has been redesigned to be more spacious than ever and easily accommodates a lot of the larger 9 x 13 inch pans that can feed a whole group of people. A lot of the ovens that we talk about later on do not accommodate larger groups or standard casserole size pans so that is something that definitely puts the Sun Oven top on the list for those that want a back up cooker for a group.
Special Note: You can save $70 off the Preparedness and Dehydration Package or $50 off just the Sun Oven by following this link and using our special BDS code “BackdoorSurvival” or “BackdoorSurvivalASO” at checkout. This deal is active until July 31st, 2017.
2. GoSun Sport
This Cincinnati, Ohio designed solar oven features a Borosilicate Evacuated Glass Cooking Chamber and two parabolic reflectors that help the oven to covert up to 80% of sunlight into cooking heat. The cooking tray is made of Culinary Grade stainless steel for safety and durability.
There are a lot of fans of this portable and easy to use oven. The worst disadvantage is the internal glass tube which is more prone to breakage than some designs but at the same time GoSun says that if you break a tube within two years of purchase they will replace it no questions asked. For those that want to cook food fast and don’t mind a lower capacity oven, it has its charm. The GoSun Sport sets up in minutes and is ideal for use on patios, boats, and more. Meals can be heated in as little as 20 minutes with this unique design.
This oven looks a lot like a Sun Oven and is in a similar price range. Reported average temperatures are on the 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit range. This is a good range to be in because it will cook most anything. Some breads that are meant to be baked at higher heats might not be the best choice in this particular oven but you should experiment with the oven and see what you can do. On a hot day or just one with a lot of sun, you can reach higher temperatures so don’t just walk away and not check the oven every so often.
You can also use the Solavore to pasteurize water and it comes with an indicator to let you know when water is good to go. You have to love a feature like that and what it can mean in a survival situation. Also how about having some hot water to wash up with?
This oven is really durable and there is no glass to worry about breaking. Solavore drop tests this onto concrete at 12 feet so you can be assured that kids and dogs are good to go around this. It also doesn’t get hot to the touch so it is not a burn risk. Dark pots are the way to go when it comes to solar cooking. The included enamel wear pans are a great choice for solar cookers.
Reflectors make this work better and you can use simple things like these Italian bread pans for reflectors or as pans to cook in your oven. This is a much cheaper alternative to the GoSun or other large solar ovens on our list. If you are on a budget, this tube is a good place to start. Adding a few accessories or constructing a small stand still puts you at well under $100 for a solar oven which is not bad at all. The tube holds up to a gallon of food so you can cook for a pretty big crowd with just one of these guys.
For a complete solar oven system, this is an outstanding value that consistently gets great reviews from all types of customers. For your money, you get:
- 1 solar oven thermometer
- 2 heat-conducting/baking trays
- 2 baking/dehydrating racks
- 1 enamelware pot
- 2 silicone pots
- a handy carrying bag.
The whole system including all that is listed above weighs under 5 lbs so you can really take this a lot of places that other solar ovens are just too heavy for. The company does a lot of charity work so a portion of your purchase goes towards helping others have access to fast and energy friendly cooking methods all over the globe.
This is a good solar oven for those on a budget and that want something that is very portable, lightweight, and easy to set up. Sunflair claims an entire chicken can be cooked in about 3 hours making it about as good at cooking as a plug in slow cooker.
The SolCook takes advantage of a really large fold out reflector system to make the best use of the energy from the sun. The oven accommodates a pan that is 10×10 inches and up to 8 inches high so a black cast iron dutch oven is a good choice for getting the most out of this. Enamel wear is another good choice. The secret is to use a dark pan to make the most use of heat. The manufacturer claims that meats are cooked in the same amount of time as using a medium oven. Something like an egg dish can be ready in as little as 20 minutes.
The oven is amazingly lightweight at under 2.5 lbs. Some say you need to buy a separate balancing kit for best results but plenty of ingenius preppers will be able to make their own balancing stand. Customers report that dried beans can be completed in 5 hours or so.
So do I really need a solar oven?
Solar ovens are good to have if you actually will use them and I don’t just mean in an emergency. You don’t want to be learning the pros and cons of the oven you own during a major situation. If you decide to get an oven then start using it as soon as you can. Practice will teach you what meals you enjoy the most from the oven, how evenly it cooks, and the actual cooking times during different seasons or weather conditions. Knowing the actual capability and true performance of your oven is crucial.
Solar ovens can cook some foods fairly fast under the right conditions but if you are a really impatient person then a solar oven might drive you a little crazy.
On the other hand, there are inexpensive options in the $100 range that mean you are not losing too much by trying one out.
I would say a solar oven is a fabulous supplement to your cooking tools but you don’t want to think you can rely on it too much. In a survival situation, you should have several ways of cooking in mind if possible as well as some foods that you can just eat without heating if necessary. Being prepared means having a Plan A, B, C, and D not just an A plan.
Suggested Recipes & Cooking Ideas
Fans of solar ovens have a lot of favorites. Here are some suggestions for trying out your solar oven and learning what it can do.
- Beef stew meat and vegetables
- Whole chicken or if using a tube style cooker you can cut up the chicken
- Beans and rice
- Baked potatoes
- Steamed or baked fish
Do you have experience with solar cooking or a favorite recipe to share? Please comment below with your experiences and what you love to cook in your solar oven!
Also let us know what challenges you have faced, especially those situations where you have tried to cook under not so ideal conditions like cold temps and low sunlight. We hope this article can create a dialogue where we can all learn something from one another!
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