Monday, August 24, 2009

A Sun Oven Test

The weather was clear and sunny this weekend in my little speck of the world. I decided to break out the Sun Oven and do a test run. You never know when fate might deal you a power outage.

This test was simple - potatoes and onions from my local farmer's market and some salt and pepper. I cheated a little by putting in butter. If/when TSHTF the death of local dairies will be felt pretty quickly I imagine.

As you can see, the Sun Oven doesn't have a huge capacity, but it gets the job done for this side dish.


Positioning the Sun Oven is important. I have good sunlight in my back yard.

275 deg F. Not bad for a black box and some glass. After a 6 hour run, I pulled the potatoes. By the end, the glass was completely fogged over with condensation. This means that when I was shifting positions I must have caused the lid the shift off the dish - this reduces the max temperature that can be achieved.

Just like that, a mess of very tasty taters and onions.

Some Lessons Learned

  • The manual that came with the Sun Oven noted that you can reduce the liquids required because stuff doesn't boil off like in a regular oven. They were not kidding. The few tablespoons of butter I put in had formed a nice tasty pool at the bottom of the dish - adding lots of flavor and proving that it is not as liquid intensive as regular cooking.
  • It tasted the same as fried potatoes and onions, only less greasy.
  • This is not easily portable. Yes, I know the manufacturer's website shows a picture of guy with his Sun Oven strapped to his backpack. It is nicely built, but not quite that robust - in my opinion. If you get refugeed, I don't suggest taking this particular design with you. There are some improvised versions you can make do with, or at least build once you land somewhere.
  • It seemed to hold 275 deg F for most of the day. There were a few clouds and I had an excellent angle on the sun for much of that time, though I did not refocus it on the sun every half hour, as recommended. I will have to play with it in some non-optimal situations to see how it peforms.

Overall, I am pleased. This has been part of my camping/emergency kit for a couple of years now. I bought it right after I learned about Peak Oil. I think it was some sort of "do something!" reflex and I picked one up from Matt Savinar's Life After the Oil Crash. I used it a few times then left it to collect dust after my initial phase of Peak Oil panic subsided and the long-term planning phase set in. The time has come to get some miles on it, I think.

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