Monday, May 7, 2012

Sun Oven - Part one: General information

How is your spring going?  May just started, and here in Arizona, we already hit triple digit weather back in April.  When it gets that hot, and you're paying to run your AC all day just to keep the house at 80 degrees, the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven and cook something for dinner. Which, among so many other reasons, is why I am grateful for my Sun Oven!

Here's the Sun Oven, all set up in my back yard. The swinging tray inside keeps my mini-muffin tin level, despite the oven being tilted up via the adjustable leg to access more sun. 

I purchased my Sun Oven through Shelf Reliance around Thanksgiving of 2011. It ships straight from the manufacturer, who happened to be back ordered at the time I ordered, so it took longer than I wanted for it to arrive (6-8 weeks if I remember correctly). But it was definitely worth the wait. I checked with the manufacturer this last week, and they are not currently back ordered, and ship orders within the week of receiving them. 

In the past few months, I have been experimenting with my Sun Oven. I have learned a lot about cooking with it, and have been compiling some tips and tricks to share with you. It will probably take a few posts. So for this first post, let me just introduce you to the Sun Oven. 
  • The whole unit weighs only 21 pounds. The reflectors are collapsible, and it has an easy carrying case, so it is quite portable. 
  • Collapsed storage dimensions: When resting on its back (so the carrying handle is on top) it measures: 13"x22" with a height of 19".
  • Internal Cooking Area dimensions: When the bottom is resting flat on the ground, the floor of the internal cooking area measures 10"x13" and the height, at the most shallow part, is 8". 
  • There is an adjustable leg in the back that allows you to tilt your Sun Oven toward the sun for maximum sunshine collecting. ("sunshine collecting" is not a technical term, but I think it works). 
  • To ensure your food lays flat even if the oven is tilted, there is a removable free-swinging leveling tray inside. The tray measures: 9.25" x 12". 
  • To use your Sun Oven, you'll peel off the blue protective film from the reflectors, and open them up, locking them open with a small thumb screw. These reflectors stay cool to the touch, even when the inside of the Sun Oven is over 300 degrees. 
  • The glass door has two thumb screw closures to keep the door locked tight against the rubber seal during cooking. These can get hot to the touch, so use an oven mitt when opening them. 
  • Also included inside is a thermometer that can register up to 500 degrees. When I first set it up, it only took about 15-20 minutes for the thermometer to read 325 degrees. Since it was winter, I was skeptical it was really that hot, so I put my own thermometer in there as well to check, and when I came back to check, both thermometers were reading 350. 
  • The Sun Oven works by reflecting the sun's rays into the cooking chamber through the sealed glass door. The outside temperature doesn't matter, but what does matter is having the direct sunlight successfully reflecting into the chamber. (So watch out for dirty reflectors, fogged up glass door, or overcast skies). The more direct the sunlight, the hotter it will get. On a clear winter's day, I got my oven up to 350. You can use the adjustable leg, as well as turning the sun oven to follow the sun's path in the sky, to make sure your oven keeps having as much direct sunlight as possible, and you will be able to maintain that higher temperature through out the whole cooking time. 
  • If you are baking something that needs to cook for a while and do not want to (or can not) continually go outside every 30-45 minutes and shift your oven slightly to follow the sun to maintain those elevated baking temperatures, that's okay. Just use your Sun Oven like a slow cooker. Simply position your Sun Oven to where the sun will be at its hottest for the bulk of the cooking time (usually south facing if you'll be gone all day). Put your food in, go to work, or to church, or wherever, and the oven will act like a big crock pot. Come home and even if the sun has set, your food will still be warm in the Sun Oven, having slow cooked all day at a lower temperature. 
  • Sun Ovens are built to last more than 20 years if properly cared for. 
  • Through Shelf Reliance, a Sun Oven costs $282.14 (plus tax and $19.99 shipping - unless you want to pick yours up at the warehouse in American Fork, UT, in which case there is no shipping fee).  On top of that, thanks to the party benefits program Shelf Reliance offers, you get 10% of your purchase as credit towards free product... so another $28.21 in free product for a later purchase.  To sweeten the deal, if you live in the continental US, and order as part of my current party, I will use my own benefits to also give you your choice of Sun Oven accessories to go with it (set of two brownie pans or a roaster pan with lid).    So you get: 
Free accessory pan(s)
 $28.21 in free product
Ability to cook without needing electricity, gas or propane
A way to save on electric bill and keep your house cooler in the summer
Peace of mind from being prepared for emergencies 
All for the price of $282.14 plus applicable tax and shipping

To order, contact me now at: or call me at 714-683-7562.  Stay tuned for more sun oven tips, tricks and recipes, and take a look at some of the photos below. If you have any questions, e-mail me or comment on this post and I will try to answer them right away!

All folded up and ready to be carried  wherever you need.

Peeling off the blue protective film from the reflectors

Comes with a Polder brand thermometer that can register up to 500 degrees F.

One of two metal thumb screws used to keep the glass door locked.

The adjustable leg in the back of the Sun Oven. 

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