Top 5 Portable Solar Cookers
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If you are going camping anytime soon, you might want to consider getting a solar cooker. You might be used to creating a fire every single time you need to cook, but that can quickly get old. Solar cookers, as long as the sun is out, will allow you to cook all of your favorite camping foods without the need for a fire or other external fuel sources. These cookers can get as hot as 500°F, at least the really good ones can when there is a strong sun out.
These work more or less by collecting solar radiation and then redirecting it to a special cooking chamber. In some cases, it is more or less just a set of high-efficiency mirrors which reflect sunlight at food. It’s kind of like cooking something with a magnifying glass, a big and powerful magnifying glass. As long as the sun is out, solar cookers can be very useful. At any rate, let’s help you find the best options out there with these best solar cookers review.
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose Your Best Solar Cooker
Before you go out and buy any solar cooker, there are some things that you need to know in order to choose the one that is best for you. Let’s talk about the various things that you need to keep in mind before making a final purchase.
Things to Consider Before Making a Purchase
Let’s talk about the most important considerations you need to keep in mind before buying a portable solar cooker.
How Much Heat Can It Deliver?
You might think that a little box with a bunch of reflective materials cannot generate all that much heat. However, that is really not true. Between the reflective panels and the materials used in the cooking box hold the heat, solar cookers can actually get pretty hot, but this does of course depend on the specific one you get.
Some models will only be able to produce 200° to 300° of heat, which is enough to heat food, but not really to cook it. However, there are some higher-quality models that can reach up to 550° or even close to 600°, which is more than enough to cook any kind of food, even from frozen.
Can I Control the Temperature?
To be fair, many cheaper solar cookers do not allow you to control the temperature, but there are more expensive ones which do. In all reality, cooking does require precise temperature controls, so this is pretty important to keep in mind. However, if you are just cooking hotdogs and heating beans, being able to control the temperature might not be so important. Getting a solar cooker or solar oven that has removable and adjustable reflective materials, plus some adjustable venting capabilities, will allow greater control over the temperature. Do keep in mind that these things are never all that precise with temperature, so you are not going to be making your famous soufflé with a solar cooker.
Size, Weight, and Durability
Something that you need to look out for before you make a purchase is how durable the item in question is. Being made of durable materials like aluminum and stainless steel is always a bonus. Who knows, you might bang this cooker around during your travels and you might even drop it, so having a durable solar cooker is important.
Furthermore, you are going to be out in nature and cooking with hot temperatures, so having a cooker that can withstand extreme temperatures, plus one that is corrosion resistant is pretty important as well. On that same note, do keep in mind that larger and more durable solar cookers will usually be a bit heavy and sometimes bulky too.
Of course, the ideal mix here is a combination of a lightweight, compact, and durable design. Being small and compact is useful because when you go camping, you already have more than enough gear on you, so hauling around a large solar cooker is not exactly ideal.
Types of Solar Cookers
There are 3 main types of solar cookers that you can go with. These include the solar oven, the panel cooker, and the parabolic cooker. Solar panel cookers tend to be the least expensive, but they also do not work that well due to the fact that they only direct heat towards the pot or pan, but do not really have any method of retaining that heat.
In terms of camping, you are better off going with a solar oven, as they reflect heat and light just like a solar cooker, but they also have an insulated box to retain heat. Parabolic solar cookers tend to be quite expensive, large, and bulky, but they do often have the ability to get up to really high temperatures.
Features to Look Out For
Let’s quickly talk about the features of a solar cooker or solar oven that you should pay attention to.
All solar cookers have some type of reflective panel which they use to reflect heat energy at the cooking pots or cooking area. The bigger and higher quality these panels are, the better the cooking process will go and the more heat the item in question will be able to produce. Having collapsible reflectors is the best way to go because it will be more compact and easier to transport.
An Insulated Box
Some solar cookers will come with an insulated box, which is mostly the case with solar ovens. These boxes are made of materials that can absorb and retain heat for higher temperatures and faster cooking. If you do not want to sit around all day waiting for your food to cook, this is the way to go.
Perhaps one of the most important things to look for when buying a solar cooker is if it has a temperature gauge. Sure, being able to achieve high temperatures for cooking is nice, but you also need to be able to tell what the temperature is. Cooking is pretty sensitive, so this feature is quite important.
Solar Cooker Product Reviews
To provide you with some options and to help you find the best solar cooker that your money can buy, let us review 5 different solar cookers right here and right now. Who knows, we might find one that is ideal for you.
1. Solavore Sport Solar Oven
If you need a convenient little solar oven for basic cooking needs, the Solavore Sport Solar Oven is a really good option to keep in mind.
This oven is small, lightweight, and compact, making it a good choice if you already have lots of gear with you and need a small solar stove that is ideal for transportation. It weighs only 9 pounds, which is relatively light, not the lightest, but far from being the heaviest solar cooker around. It comes in at 27 x 17 x 10 inches, which is also not too bad, as it is fairly compact. In terms of convenience, this is one of the better choices out there right now.
2. Solavore Sport Solar Oven with TR-86 Reflector
This Complete Solavore Sport Solar Oven is an upgraded version of the one we just looked at. Both of these solar ovens come from the same manufacturer, and they more or less look the same, but this one comes with a detachable TR-86 high performance solar reflector. It is more expensive than the regular Solavore Sport Solar Oven, but it does have a higher achievable temperature and it helps cut down on cooking time as well.
3. Sunflair Mini Portable Solar Oven
Are you looking for a small and inexpensive solar cooker for your camping needs? This Sunflair Mini Portable Solar Oven is a decent choice to go with. It is so far the most inexpensive option on this list today. If you have already spent a lot of money on camping gear and don’t have too much more to spend, this cooker is better than not having a solar cooker at all. It might not be the biggest or very fastest option out there, but for basic camping cooking purposes, it certainly gets the job done.
4. Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe
This solar oven from Sunflair is an upgraded version of the previous Sunflair Solar Cooker we just looked at. It has many of the same features and works in much the same way, but it has a few extra things that come with it. This Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe can reach temperatures of 285°, just like the previous model. It is good enough to heat up water and other foods, but it will take a few minutes, not to speak of cooking something from frozen. It works well enough for basic camp cooking needs, but just do not expect it to work very fast.
5. All American Sun Oven
If you need an all-around solar cooker to go with, the All American Sun Oven is definitely a good option to keep in mind. It is lightweight, easy to set up, durable, and it actually gets pretty hot as well. This particular solar oven comes in at 7 pounds and 10 x 10 x 10 inches. In other words, it is fairly compact and lightweight. It is not the lightest of all solar ovens out there, but it is not too heavy nonetheless. Its compact size does make it fairly easy to fit in with your camping gear.
When it comes down to it, all of the above options are good to go with. It really depends on what you need. If you need something lightweight and super portable, we would recommend both of the options by Sunflair. If you need a solar cooker with lot of cooking power, the final option, the All American, is a good choice to keep in mind. If you want a well-rounded cooking experience with a good mix of all of the important features, you might want to take a closer look at the first two options we have reviewed here today.
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