I’ve been asked about solar ovens several times since I began The Boat Galley, most recently when I wrote about ways to keep cooking heat out of the boat. And it’s a problem since I’ve only used one once, on a friend’s boat. But I have several friends who use them ALL the time. Their favorites:
Solavore Solar Oven(The Solavore is what I used on a friend’s boat but is no longer available; see the All-American below for a very similar oven)
- GoSun Sport
- All American Sun Oven – Recently, three different cruisers have recommended this oven.
I wanted to list some resources for readers who are curious about them. These were all written by cruisers and thus contain information useful to boaters:
- Sailing with Totem: Cooking with a Solar Oven by Behan Gifford
- Cruising World: “Keep on the Sunny Side” by Susan Detwiler
- The Adventures of Sailing Vessel Macha: “Solar Cooking” by Sarah
A few notes:
- Solar ovens are really useful in areas where it’s hard to get propane refills, such as some parts of the South Pacific (or where it’s hard to get whatever other type of fuel your stove uses)
- Also great in particularly hot climates
- I assumed they’d be primarily used for stews and things that required long slow cooking. While they are great for that, I also learned that you can bake most items in one and cook veggies, too. The GoSun can reach temperatures up to 450° F. and cooking times are very similar to conventional ovens. The Sunflair uses lower temperatures and cooks more like a slow cooker.
- Eliminates the risk of fire that any stove or grill has
- Very “green” option, using no petroleum and putting no greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere
- Not that useful in areas that tend to be cloudy, even if it gets hot there. You need to be able to at least see your shadow.
- You don’t have to sit with the food and watch it — you can go ashore and do other things
- Many solar ovens are fairly large, which means they can hold quite a bit but are tough to store. The GoSun is considerably smaller and also will reach hotter temperatures — but you can’t cook nearly as much in one. The All American Sun Oven seems to split the difference with temperatures up to 400 degrees (nearly what the GoSun will reach) and room to cook more food.