We have been cooking with the Solar Oven for a few weeks now.
Good time to give a review and how we did it!
It only took Mr. about a day, 3 2×4’s and a sheet of plywood to build this Sun Oven. The inside dimensions are 15″x22″ – large enough that I can use my Pyrex casserole dishes and 1/4 sheet cake pans. I love the size! I can cook a whole supper in it!
We “insulated” the inside with a bag of Perlite (found in the garden section).
For the lid, we used a picture frame – 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby! Not sure how long the frame itself will last, but with the price of a sheet of glass from a glass shop or a box home improvement store – this was the best way to go. Later when this one ends its useful life, we will build up a frame and reuse the glass.
A pair of $2 hinges and $1 latch from ChinaMart – and tada!
For the inside, we used oven drip pans. Not ideal for the long term but it gave us time to make sure it mostly worked before putting money into sturdier materials. Some folks use Mylar to line the inside. My issue is the possible fumes/reaction when exposed to the long, high heat in the oven. We will likely spring for metal flashing.
Likewise with the bottom. It is supposed to be painted black. Most use high temp black paint (like for the grill), again, my issue is with the off gassing/fumes that would release into the air and absorbed by our food. Until I get an acceptable alternative, I just lay a black towel on the bottom.
Since I had a leftover drip pan, I used it as the reflector on the back. We need to make reflectors to go all around it… once I figure out how to attach them to make them removable or foldable, sturdy but not add a lot of weight.
Even with it not being “done” with “proper” materials, it hits and consistently stays at 200F degrees from about 10am until 5pm when the sun disappears behind the trees again. With the addition of a pizza stone to the bottom (covered by the black towel) – it stays hot a long while longer. A black ceramic coated pizza stone would likely be perfect! That will have to wait for a half off coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond to come out of course. We also plan on adding an oven seal around the frame to hold in more of the heat.
I rotate it about every 2 hours or so. Once we get the reflectors on it, I won’t have to track the sun near as much and it should get hotter. I’m also thinking of mounting it to a pole and lazy suzan to make rotating that much easier. Of course, we have to finish the outside to make it as pretty as it is functional!
Another nice thing about it – I can get all the prep work done in the morning – after breakfast, we put supper in the sun oven and start the sun tea. About 5pm, I finish up what needs to go with supper and I am done!
I have 2 black cookie racks for two layers of food (to allow air to circulate around). One day I needed to stack them to fit all the food – enter coke cans! Quick and easy solution.
So far we have successfully cooked everything from pancakes to toaster struddles (both above), pot pies to mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs (below) to 2 frozen pizzas. I love this thing!! And so can not wait to try baking cookies and breads! Yum yum! Between this and the Rocket Stove – we got this cooking thing!