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What I DON’T Like About My Sun Oven

I figured that it was time for a frank opinion about the Global Sun Oven. While I’m still glad I have one and for the most part I think it is an awesome idea, there are some concerns that I have.

I might also point out that I have NO experience with any other solar ovens (manufactured or DIY) so these concerns could be about sun ovens in general. I would also like to hear about any ways you’ve found to combat these problems, if applicable.

Perhaps these concerns are nit-picking but some are troubling. Anyway, here they are in no particular order:

  • Reflector plastic wrap was nearly impossible to remove – I got my Sun Oven as a Christmas gift and I was excited to open it; heck, I felt like a kid again. It’s been several months since that time and I still remember how amazingly frustrating it was to remove the blue plastic film that covered the shinny side of the reflectors. I swear it took me at least 30 minutes to get it all off… I’m not kidding! It was ridiculous. They could have used something not so adherent and protected the reflectors just the same.
  • Temperatures are not as high as expected (or preferred) – Maybe I’m not doing something quite right–how hard can it be, though–but I have yet to get the internal temperatures (according to the supplied gauge) above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. While not too terrible concerning it does make following recipe times a bit more difficult. I can’t imagine the ambient temperature matters much but I’ve had it in 100 degree weather with little improvement.
  • Chamber size is fairly small – While I’m not expecting to cook a meal for twenty people inside the Sun Oven, it seems I can only really use the supplied pot(s), which isn’t going to hold enough food for more than about four people at best. I have seen solar ovens that appear bigger (at least, they seem significantly wider) so I don’t know if they choose to make the oven this size for a particular reason or what. If I had my way I would have requested the chamber to be a bit bigger or, at the very least, rectangular so that I might be able to use a descent sized pot/pan or even a rectangular bake dish.
  • Single tilt adjustment leg – This one is a bigger concern for me. I understand designing a solar oven that has a built-in ability to tilt and hold towards the sun because it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll need to angle the oven toward the sun. What I don’t understand is why it was designed with only one leg and not a set of self-leveling legs along the back of the unit, which in my opinion, would have been increasingly more useful. On flat ground it works great, but not so much on an incline. The single leg design is especially a problem at a steep incline because, as the sun moves across the sky, the Sun Oven must be rotated to face the sun and, therefore, becomes less stable. I fear a descent gust of wind would blow the unit over and my food with it. So, instead of using the built-in leg, I find myself resting the oven atop split firewood or something similar in order to better stabilize it on an incline.
  • Lack of positive compression on the glass - the glass is to be held firm to the seal by two rotating levers, which (it seems but not verified) may be adjusted by loosening or tightening screws. While I would suspect that the manufacturer deliberately choose to avoid the ability to highly compress the glass in order to avoid breakage, I can say that with the current design it does not look like a proper seal because I can seen where the seal is not properly compressed to the glass in some spots. Maybe this is contributing to my inability to raise the internal temperature?

Having said all that, there are plenty of good things about the oven too…

  • Very compact and easy to setup (literally within seconds)
  • Easy to clean the inside surfaces (made of black anodized aluminum)
  • Pretty darn wind resistant (it’s rather windy where I live and it hasn’t blown over yet)
  • Built-in temperature gauge (a must)
  • Self-leveling internal tray (that the food sets on)
  • Mostly made of parts that won’t rust (though there is some metal used)
  • Difficult to burn yourself (most of the outside can be touched even when in use)
I should also mention that there are a ton of uses for one too. For instance, it can be used to bake, boil, and steam foods, can be used as a solar dehydrator, to boil water, and more.

So, are my concerns off base? What are your experiences, good or bad?

2 comments to What I DON’T Like About My Sun Oven

  • Johnathan C

    My father-in-law, Tom Burns, invented the global sun oven and I was able to see all of the research and protoypes he went through developing it. There were always limitations that frustrated him because he had to make it easy to produce (here in the US) and affordable for everyone. He was way ahead of his time because now having a solar oven is a great prepping decision.

    You can always opt for the Villager model which he designed for third world villages to cook their bread and other foods (30 loaves at a crack). Tom saw all of the devastation in countries where they had depleted the firewood supply and wanted to do something about it. The Village comes on a small trailer it is so big and looks like a satellite antenna!

    The best thing to cook is a whole chicken or beer bread. The chickens end up plump and juicy and the bread is moist awaiting fresh butter.

    • I should clarify that the Sun Oven is definitely a cool product, I’m glad I have one, and the benefits FAR outweigh the few problems I point out. It’s just that all you ever see a rave reviews and never an attempt to discuss a few shortcomings, at least, the ones I’ve encountered.