Sun Ovens - What are they?

Sun Ovens come in many shapes, designs and sizes. They attract heat from the sun and use this heat to cook food. In general a sun oven uses 3 design principles to heat up your food...

1) Direct heat from the suns rays
2) Reflected heat from the suns rays
3) Insulation to keep the heat in

If you left food in the direct sun, there is little chance it would cook fast enough to be useful if at all. But by using reflectors you can amplify the heat many times. One reflector and the direct sun = nearly twice as much heat. 4 reflectors = nearly 5 times etc.

Even with all this heat sun ovens would cool down very quickly and not heat the food up enough if the heat could not be trapped.

Different from a solar cooker (parabolic dish) sun ovens trap the heat in an oven style to create a hot box where food can be cooked.
The effectiveness of Sun Ovens is dependant on the following:

  • the quality of the glass lid
  • the quality of the inside of the cooking chamber
  • the quality of the insulating walls
  • the number of reflective panels
  • the quality (reflectiveness) of the reflectors
  • the ability to aim the sun oven at the sun

The ease of use of Sun Ovens can be helped by:

  • having a way of aiming / adjusting angle
  • having a leveling base
  • having a built in thermometer
  • being easy to set up
  • having fold down reflectors
  • being light & compact
  • having a large and high cooking area.
Sun Ovens vary immensely in the way they are designed and made. Depending on your intended use there may be many that suit your needs. Be aware though that not all will be able to do anything that you want. For instance, any sun ovens with either none or only one reflector will generally not be much good for roasting or baking due to lower temperatures.

Some sun ovens are HUGE and have been built to be used in one location only, while others are small enough to take traveling. Home-made sun ovens are generally quite bulky and not too easy to move around.

Some lower cost commercial sun ovens (like the Rohitas) are fine for occasional use though have very poor build quality & should not be expected to last for too long. Another common unit (the Tulsi) has a backup electric element in it which seems like a great idea if you want to cook outside when it is raining(?), though the temperature of the sun powered cooking in this unit is impaired greatly.

A Sun Oven that continually comes to mind is the Global Sun Oven® that combines the best features & build quality to give an extremely useful and versatile sun oven. It is more expensive though first hand experience and many, many reports have concluded that this oven will work very well for years. If your experience is different to this we would love to hear from you.
But in general with the right unit sun ovens can be used for heating, cooking, boiling, steaming, baking, roasting and drying etc.

We hope you will find much useful information here about sun ovens and continue down this rewarding path!