It’s a classic scene straight out of summer nostalgia. Clear skies and bright sunshine. A few cold drinks around the outside table. Food cooking on the grill. The outdoor barbecue is a classic part of many cultures, especially here in Australia. And with such a long tradition, many people are religiously divided on how they cook outside. Many prefer LPG gas, while some swear by charcoal. But these fuel sources come with an environmental price tag, and while it may not seem like much on an individual level, it does all eventually add up. But there are two companies that are looking to change the way we cook outside, and there ideas are simple. What makes perfect barbecue weather? A bright sunny day. So why not harness that sunlight to do the cooking? Solar cookers are the next wave in outdoor green technology, and The Sun Oven in particular aims to revolutionise the way humans cook outside.
Basically solar cookers collect heat from the sun. The most basic type would be a box with a glass lid. The sun’s rays go through the glass and heat up the chamber. Many things affect how hot the chamber gets: the efficiency of the glass, the colour and material of the chamber (and pot), the angle to the sun, the atmospheric conditions (dust, smoke, haze, humidity, clouds) and insulation of the chamber.
To increase the effectiveness of a solar cooker, it is necessary to increase the collection of the suns rays. Many solar cookers do this by adding ‘collectors’ (often called reflectors) to increase the heat captured. There are many designs, but the balance is a crucial one. Too much collection and you have hot spots and burnt food, too little and the solar cooker is useless on days with a little dust or haze (that we generally don’t notice) and may not be able to bake even on the best days.
There are many types of Solar Cookers – Hot Boxes, Solar Ovens, Parabolic Mirrors and evacuated tubes being the main types. Each one has benefits & drawbacks… i.e. a parabolic cooker (or dish) can reach extremely high temperatures, but is dangerous to the eyes, burns food very easily (food has to be continually turned) and a high risk in any wind.
The Sun Oven was designed to overcome the common problems of solar cooking. It combines the best of each design into an easy to use and highly effective device. It is an insulated box with a black metal inner cooking chamber with ultra-high efficient glass. It then has 4 reflectors to increase the heat. These collectors are positioned to make sure you not only get the best useable heat, but also mean you don’t have to turn the oven as much (or at all) when cooking. These reflectors fold down out of the way in one easy action for storage too!
If you’d like more information on this exciting new technology, check out The Global Sun Oven Website.