How Does Solar Cooking Work

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If you have ever wondered how to use a solar oven, a solar BBQ, or any Solar cooking equipment then your in the right place.

We have bundled up our most common questions about solar cooking, and have put them all together here to help you out. Wether you are new to solar cooking, or you are experience and have purchased from SunCook Australia many times before, I'm sure you will learn a few things below.

How does solar cooking work?

Ever got into a car on a hot day and thought the dash was hot enough to fry an egg? ! Well a solar oven works in the a similar way - but gets hot enough to cook not just an egg but almost anything else too! Solar ovens use optimally shaped reflectors to concentrate solar radiation onto a black solar absorber plate which in turn heats up the oven and the cooking vessels. The insulation helps trap the heat, allowing the sun cook to continue cooking food even if the sun is interrupted by a passing cloud or sets.


What are the weather requirements to use the solar oven?

You can use a solar oven in almost any weather conditions or seasons except for thick consistent cloud. The Sun Cook works on solar radiation and not ambient temperature, and we've heard stories of successful cooking with a Solar Oven whilst in the snow of Mount Everest! The best days are clear sunny warm days however some cloud is ok too. The brighter the solar radiation, the hotter the solar oven will get and the faster it will cook your food. One big advantage of the Sun Cook is the double glazed glass - this traps the heat in very effectively so if a cloud does pass over the food will continue to cook.


What temperatures does the oven get to?

This depends on the weather conditions, how long it is out in the sun for and what is in the oven. The SunCook and the SunFlower can both reach temperatures of up to 200oC in optimal conditions. The average temperature range for summer in Newcastle is between 150-180oC, and in winter 140-160oC. This is hot enough to cook most things effectively!


How long does it take to cook?

This depends on the weather conditions and what you're cooking but generally most foods can be cooked in less than 2 hours. On a hot and sunny summers day, we've found the following average cooking times:

  • Loaf of bread - 1hour 20 minutes
  • Cake - 1 hour
  • Pot of rice - 40 minutes
  • Soup or stew - 2 hours
  • Boil water - 30-40 minutes
  • Roast with side of veggies - 2.5-3 hours

Unlike a conventional oven, meals in the sun cook don't require ongoing attention - set it up and leave it alone! Turning it to follow the sun may be useful if cooking for long periods of time, such as a roast or stew.


Can I use it inside?

As it needs solar radiation, solar ovens are best used in direct sunlight and therefore outside. The materials have been specially designed to handle the outdoor climate however it is recommended that solar ovens are safely stored under cover when not in use to keep it in its optimum condition.

You can use the SunRocket solar thermos inside if there is a location where sunlight can be achieved. It will not work in direct shade or behind glass, such as a window or door.


What kind of cooking can be done?

Pretty much anything you can think of! If you can put it in a conventional oven, you can put it in the Sun Cook solar oven!

It does boiling, stewing, grilling, baking, sauteing and slow cooking. It doesn't work for frying and if cooking foods that steam you may need to cover the food or prop open the lid so that the steam does not fog up the glass, decreasing its efficiency.


What cooking dishes should be used?

The Sun Cook comes with two specially designed cooking dishes - a rectangular baking pan and a round lidded pot. Both of these are thin lightweight materials with flat bottoms which allows for maximum heat transfer.

You can use any other dishes that you like provided they are metallic and preferably black. You can not use plastics, ceramic or light coloured dishes as they will not heat sufficiently.


Is it fragile?

All our solar products are high quality and durable - they use plastics which are highly resident to thermal and mechanical impacts. It has tempered glass and mirrors that are robust and intensively tested.

However the oven should be handled with care as to not dent, scratch or bend the panels as this will decrease the effectiveness of the oven.

Also, although the oven is robust, it should not be excessively shaken (such as being carried uninsulated in a trailer) or used as a seat. It does however make an excellent coffee table to eat from when finished cooking!


Safe use of a solar oven

The inside of a solar oven and the glass lid should not be touched whilst it is hot.

Ensure that the oven is placed on a stable flat surface

When removing food from the oven allow steam to escape first by opening the lid a few centremeters and waiting for steam to come out.

Always use an oven mitt or such to remove pans from the oven - the Sun Cook can get much hotter than you expect - treat it like you would a conventional electric oven and take care.


What maintenance does it require?

There is very little maintenance for the solar ovens as they have no 'moving parts'. If there is any food spillage, ensure that it is wiped up with a soft damp cloth or paper tissue. The glass can get greasy or fogged depending on what is being

cooked. Again cleaning with a soft damp cloth or tissue is the best way to clean it.


What are the dimensions of the Sun Cook?

The inside of the sun cook has a 25 ltr capacity and has the dimensions: Width 40cm x length 30cm x height 16cm

This is large enough to have several pots cooking at one time - great if you want to put on a soup and bread or curry and rice.

The external dimensions are: Width 55cm x length 55cm x height 28cm


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Plus, for more great information, check out our other guides, or out store's tips and tricks page to learn more about how you can save money, be more prepared, and help the environment all through solar cooking.

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