*Solar Oven test review*
By: Ben
01 October 2004


I acquired this oven in a trade with a co-worker. It is manufactured and patented by United Solar Energy in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It is basically a 16 ga. steel box with a 1" deep lid with a full length hinge that houses a mirror with an adjustable support rod that allows you to concentrate the sun's reflection at the cooking area.
The outside dimensions are 24" long  x 16" wide x 4" deep.
Inside the box is a cooking area, 21" long  x 14" wide  x 3" deep. This cooking area has a sealed lid with a full length hinge. The lid is a frame to hold a piece of 3/16" glass. The seals are nothing more than 1/2" square black foam rubber glued to the metal frame around the glass.

We preheated this oven at work when I first got it and it achieved a high temperature of nearly 300 degrees. I painted the outside of the box flat black hoping it would increase the cooking temperature, but it didn't have any noticeable effect.

The test was in July, on the south side of a large brown building, no clouds and no wind. This is the first time I have cooked anything with it.


Test One: Supper
September 29th.
Outside Temperature: Mid 60s, no clouds, no wind.
I set the oven in direct sunlight and aimed the reflection from the mirror at the cooking area and let the oven preheat.
After 1 hour (11:00am-12.00pm) it reached 250 degrees.

2 of the seals were loose for this test, you can see one of them in the above photo.
I chose to cook  Betty Crocker, "meal in a box", lasagna. The meal was prepared in a teflon baking pan per instructions and covered with aluminum foil.

The oven temperature dropped to 200 degrees shortly after I put the pan in.
After one hour the temperature was still at 200 degrees and the noodles were still uncooked. I removed the tin foil from the pan, (thinking the foil was reflecting the sun's rays out of the cooking area). I replaced the foil with clear handi-wrap.
After a total of 2.5 hours I pulled the meal from the oven.
The noodles were fully cooked and the dinner was steaming hot.
The oven temperature never exceeded 200 degrees after I put the food in.

By the way, the Betty Crocker meal claimed to be 5 servings. It may be 5 servings in China but in Ben's house it was 2 servings.


Test 2:  COOKIES!!!

September 30th.
Outside Temperature: Mid 60s, partly cloudy but still sunny, 5 mph breezes.
Chocolate chip cookies were on the menu this time.
After yesterday's mediocre results, I thought I'd try to cook something easier and quicker.
These are the store bought "roll" of pre-made cookie dough.
I repaired the seals with a hot glue gun, hoping that would help raise the cooking temperature.
The oven was preheated for 40 minutes, it barely got to 200 degrees.
The dough (cold) was placed on a cookie sheet, and the sheet placed into the oven..
The cookies went into the oven exactly at 12:00pm.
The oven temperature dropped to 150 degrees shortly after.

After 2 hrs the cookies were almost done. Clouds had blocked the sun several times and the oven temperature would drop somewhat.
A large amount of condensation had built up under the glass and had to wiped off before it dripped onto the cookies.
After 3 hours, the cookies were still not done.
Very light cloud cover had dropped the oven temperature to about 125 degrees.
I stopped the test.
 
 

SUMMARY:
* This oven WILL NOT occupy precious space on my Bug-Out Trailer.
* It WILL have a place as an alternative cooking device in my home or retreat.
* It would be good for cooking when a wood fire would not be desirable.
* It seems to be adequate to cook biscuits, pastas and casseroles if given enough daylight.
* These tests would indicate that only one meal per day could be cooked at this time of year.
* I personally would only cook casseroles containing pre-cooked meat.
* It is very sensitive to ambient temperatures, clouds and breezes.
Ben



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