Best Solar Oven of 2019

Last Updated: 20 March, 2019 by David West

Solar technology is advancing all the time. This clean, renewable source of energy can power many of your home appliances and tech supplies, but it can feel daunting to get into the world of solar energy.

 

But don’t worry! Solar ovens and solar cookers are one easy way to harness the power of the sun. This is a great “entry-level” way to introduce solar power to your home and life.

 

Why are solar cookers so great? These devices have no plugs or wires, and doesn’t need to be hooked in to any power source. In fact, many of the best solar ovens are not just plug-free, they are portable. You can cook fresh, amazing meals at your tailgate or campsite without the need for polluting generators or running extension cords. Many solar ovens work even when the outdoor temperature is quite low, so you can cook year-round.

 

And maintenance for solar powered ovens is very low. There’s no upkeep, or fuel tank to fill or replace. There isn’t a flame, so food will not be charred or burned. All you need is a sunny day and your favorite recipe.

Top Pick for Budget Solar Cooker
SolCook All Season Solar Cooker
SolCook All Season Solar Cooker
Top Pick for Solar Baking
Sun Ovens All-American
Sun Ovens All-American
Solavore Sport Solar Oven
Solavore Sport Solar Oven
Top Pick for Solar Oven Starter Kit
Sunflair Portable Deluxe
Sunflair Portable Deluxe
Honorable Mention
Sunflair Portable Mini
Sunflair Portable Mini

How is Solar Cooking Different?

As a general rule, if your recipe calls for cooking in a dutch oven or a crock pot, then it’s an excellent candidate for solar cooking. Solar ovens range in abilities and styles, so not every solar cooker is up to every dish, so think about what you want to cook before you buy.

 

What’s more, solar cookers are a less dry heat than conventional ovens, so you often need less liquid, and meats are less likely to dry out.

 

Baking with a solar oven can be a little tricky, but we’ve seen amazing brownies, and lovely brown bread, so don’t be afraid to try it out.

 

What are the Different Types of Solar Ovens?

There are several basic types of solar cookers. While a conventional oven is built to pretty much the same design regardless of brand or fuel type, there is a much wider array of designs in solar ovens.

 

 1. Box Solar Oven

 

Many solar ovens have a “box” type design and look a little bit like a traditional oven turned on its side, with a lid on the top, rather than a door in front. These are the best solar cookers for baking. Box solar ovens are typically not portable enough to pack in a bag or backpack, but they are usually lightweight enough to carry, and can be a great addition to your car or RV camping kit.

 

 2. Panel Cooker

 

Also sometimes called  a panel oven, the panel cooker has several adjustable panels that can be focused on the dish to be cooked. These solar cookers are shaped a bit like an open flower or a funnel, often with a plastic cover that holds in heat. These are the most versatile, and often the most portable. But some are quite lightweight and may need to be clamped or tied down and closely monitored in high wind situations.

 

3. Tubular Cooker

 

The tubular solar cookers typically consist of a long glass or metal tube with vacuum walls, a bit like a long, skinny thermos. They use their large surface area to heat food quickly and easily while staying cool to the touch on the outside. Unfortunately, the small mouth of the cooker can put limitations on the shape and size of items to be cooked, and it is a poor choice for baking.

 

4. Parabolic Cooker

 

This type of solar cooker has a parabolic design reminiscent of a satellite dish. These can reach very high temperatures very quickly, and are the only solar cookers capable of stir-frying or sautéing. While very interesting looking, they are not easy to maneuver, require constant attention and adjustment.

 

Which Solar Cooker is Best for Me?

Our reviews of solar ovens put a high premium on portability and ease of use. Many consumers are not sure how to use a solar oven at first, and so easy setup is important.

 

And while solar cooking is fun and easy to do at home, most consumers find that they want to use their solar cookers when they are on the go—camping, RVing, boating, picnicking, or tailgating.

 

We’ve rounded up some of the best solar cookers and given them a thorough review looking at the function and construction of each solar oven or solar cooker. Each of the solar oven reviews should have plenty of information for you to understand the capabilities, strengths and drawbacks of each model.

1

SolCook All Season Solar Cooker

The Sol Cook All Season is a panel cooker that features a generous 12” x 17” cooking area. It’s lightweight, around two pounds, and folds up to save space during storage.

The Sol Cook offers one of the more affordable prices, so if you’re looking for a full-size cooking surface on a compact budget, this might be the best solar oven for you. The panels have a large range for all-day cooking.

The adjustments are easy to do, and a handy pin and block feature on the top panel lets you easily see when the solar cooker is correctly positioned.

The main drawback of this solar oven seems to be in its lightweight design, which may not hold up as well on windy days, or last through rough usage. Some users also found the initial setup a bit on the complicated side

PROS:
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Positioning indicator
  • Large cooking area (12”x 17”)
  • High adjustability for all-day cooking
CONS:
  • May falter in high winds
  • Material is less durable than some other models
2

GoSun Sport

This solar cooker features the novel tubular design combined with a parabolic reflector. The cooking tube is 24” long and about 2.5” in length made of borosilicate glass with a vacuum-sealed double wall.

This cooks food inside, while keeping the outside cool enough to touch. There is a wooden handle on one end of the cylinder which allows you to pull the cooking tray out easily.

The double-walled feature cuts down on the chance for accidental burns, which is handy, especially if you are planning to do your solar cooking at a campsite or tailgate with children.

The GoSun Sport’s reflector and stand legs fold into a clamshell for portability. The metal exterior protects the glass interior, which keeps it safe during travel, a smart design feature that extends the life of your solar cooker.

The GoSun Sport  is a great choice for steaming veggies, and cooks a pretty good, though oddly-shaped, omelet. However, the tubular design puts some definitive limits on the type of cooking that you can do: pieces of meat or vegetable must be small enough to fit the tube’s shape, and it can’t tackle baked goods or high-liquid foods like stews.

PROS:
  • Thoughtfully designed for travel
  • Quickly reaches a high heat
  • Exterior glass stays cool to the touch
CONS:
  • Food must be cut into pieces about 2” in diameter
  • Cooks smaller portions
  • Can’t use your own cookware
  • Cannot be used for baked goods
3

Sun Ovens All-American

This solar oven is made in the USA (thus the name) and has a generous 14” x 14” cooking surface. When in storage, it has the appearance of a small cooler, and the reflective surface opens quickly and easily when you want to take it out of storage and put it to use.

It can reach a top temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature and ample cooking surface make this one of the best solar ovens for baking items like bread or cookies.

It is also one of the best solar ovens for overall versatility in cooking methods, and is perhaps the most like a traditional oven in design and cook times.

However, the All-American is the heaviest of the top solar ovens, weighing just over twenty pounds. That means it’s not as portable as the other models, and would be a poor choice for situations where you would have to carry it long distances to your campsite.

It does have a carrying handle, and the setup is very speedy so it could be considered portable for car camping, RV-ing or tailgating, as long as you can transport it to your site in a vehicle.

PROS:
  • High temperatures
  • Great For baking
  • Large cooking surface
  • Very quick setup
  • Versatile cooking
CONS:
  • Not very portable
  • Heavy
4

Solavore Sport Solar Oven

The Solavore sport is a sturdy solar oven clocking in just under 9 pounds. Like the All American it significantly outweighs the panel and tubular cookers, but because of its folding capability and moderate weight, it’s still reasonably portable.

The Solavore Sport might be the best solar cooker for camping or cooking with children, because its clear plastic window allows curious little eyes to keep watch on the cooking happening inside, while the insulated exterior keeps little hands safe from burns and scalds.

It heats quickly and stays warm, even without the reflector, but for all-day cooking without constant adjustment we highly recommend that you use the reflector.

The Solavore company also uses recycled material in their solar ovens, and provides free or low-cost solar ovens to people in the developing world who otherwise might have to cook over dangerous indoor wood burning fires. This mission adds some philanthropy to the environmental purchase.

PROS:
  • Sturdy
  • Insulated exterior
  • Easy to view inside the oven
  • Uses recycled material & donates to good causes
CONS:
  • Moderately heavy (9 lbs.)
  • Large even when in storage mode
5

Sunflair Portable Deluxe

The Portable Deluxe is not just a panel oven, it’s a solar chef starter kit. It includes some great accessories, like a thermometer, drying rack, and various bakeware. It takes the guesswork out of deciding what dishes to use with your solar cooking.

Additionally, even with all these extras, the Portable Deluxe comes in on the lower end of the price range for these quality solar ovens, under $200.

This might be the best solar oven for those just getting into the solar cooking game. The solar oven kit allows you to cook, bake, and dehydrate food from anywhere. It’s also a great buy for those who value portability, as the solar cooker itself comes in at a weight of under two pounds, and when folded is about the size of a stadium cushion.

Despite its low weight, it has a 15” x 19” cook surface, and can reach a max temperature of 285 degrees Fahrenheit.

At that max temperature baking bread or sweets may be difficult, but any recipe that might be made in a slow cooker should do well in the Portable Deluxe. This is a good choice for those who value ease and portability, but aren’t set on baking.

PROS:
  • Ultra portable & compact
  • Light Weight
  • Large cooking area (15”x 19”)
  • Comes with many accessories and bakeware
CONS:
  • May need to be clamped down in wind
  • Not great for baking
6

Sunflair Portable Mini

This tiny powerhouse deserves an honorable mention, because it is the best solar cooker for those who prize portability and packability above all other features. The Portable Mini is an even more portable version of the already lightweight and compact Sunflair Portable Deluxe.

The Portable Mini has a similar design on a smaller scale to its “big brother.” Its function and appearance are exactly the same, just on a smaller scale.

It folds out to an 11” x 13” cooktop, enough space to cook for one or two. The complete kit–including thermometer, trivet, and collapsible silicone pot–folds into a pack the size of a school binder. The folded pack is slightly pliant, rather than rigid, which means it can find a space in even the fullest hiking pack.

The Portable Mini won’t be a go-to for baking or entertaining. But this does get you into a good-quality solar cooker for under $100, so we think it deserves an honorable mention for those with very tight budget or space constraints.

PROS:
  • The most compact & lightweight solar cooker
  • Same quality and heating capacity as the Portable Deluxe
  • Included thermometer, trivet, and pot
  • Low price
CONS:
  • Cannot cook large portions
  • Not suitable for baking
  • May not hold up in windy conditions

Making a Final Decision

Each of these solar ovens are great for specific purposes. To determine the best choice for your individual situation ask yourself:

 

How much do I want to spend on a solar oven?

Price varies from under $100 to several hundred dollars. Consider your budget.

What do I want to cook?

What do I want to cook?

If you love baking bread, some solar ovens are better than others. Some cannot make enough food for a large group or party. Some require pieces of food to be cut small.

 

How important is portability and storage to me?

Will you be using your solar oven on camping trips or tailgating? Will you have to carry it in a pack or by hand? Or perhaps you prefer to cook from your backyard, and portability and storage is not an important consideration.

 

What are the weather conditions where I am?

If you are living somewhere where temperatures can be low, choose a solar oven that features insulation. If it is often cloudy, look for a solar oven that has wide panels that can catch every bit of sun.

 

Once you consider your personal needs along with the features and drawbacks of each of the quality solar cookers above, then your decision will become clear. In no time you’ll be happily enjoying the amazing power of sun-cooked dishes. We wish you happy, healthy, and environmentally friendly cooking!

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