Leaving a solar cooking nation behind
This was our journey…
My first solar oven in 1984
The original Sunstove. This oven was designed in the USA and sponsored for the Sunstove Organization in South Africa.
Although this specific oven is still working, the transparent lid needs to be supported to prevent the wind from blowing in underneath the lid.
On the farm in Prieska, we had enough sun and could cook almost any quantity of food in any pot . If you could get it in the oven, it will be cooked.
The basic principles are still being used today, only that customer demands have changed.
Later on the original Sunstove was upgraded to the Sunstove 2000.
Some improvements were made, but the design was still very much inferior and weather conditions had to be almost perfect to cook a meal properly.
Although we cooked quite a number of meals in this oven, we had almost just as many frustrations and uncooked meals. It is mostly jeopardized by wind, poor insulation, inferior materials and just because it does not reach and keep impressive temperatures. The unreliability and inconvenience of operating the oven are the main reasons for our journey that followed.
Sungenius Built-in Solar Oven
To minimize the inconvenience and frustrations of existing solar cookers, we went on a journey of trial and error. The experimentation with a built-in solar oven to be able to solar cook from inside the house was a step in the right direction, but a bit far fetched.
The idea was to have it built into low cost houses, but too many houses were not orientated favourably towards the sun for such an installation.
The Sungenius Evacuated Tube cooker
Evacuated tube solar cookers are one of the well talked about solar cookers internationally.
Although it is highly effective and reach impressive temperatures, it will always be just a gadget.
Sungenius Parabolic box cooker
Building your own solar cooker has been proven to be just an interesting experience and nothing more. Something that we found to be one of the biggest flaws in the industry. This is just one of the ideas we tried out.
Sungenius Patio Solar Oven (Old model)
This was an upgrade of the Sunstove 2000 and the pilot model for the new Patio Solar Oven.
Two aspects stood out as the biggest flaws in almost all existing solar cookers. Wheels and electrical backup. Think about it. “Who would ever buy a Weber Braai, if it had no wheels or if it stops cooking when the sun sets?”
The performance, convenience and reliability went up dramatically and it immediately attracted a different customer profile.
We realized further that solar cooking should become a commonly used household appliance and be more in the eye of the public. It should also be used to generate an income with all-round visibility.
What if solar ovens can become the basis of mobile solar bakeries?
Pilot tests revealed that each oven can generate an income more than the minimum wage in South Africa. A trailer, with 4 ovens, generates an income of more than R10 000 profit/month plus free solar power to the household.
As the bakery looks so impressive and operates in the eye of the public, it can really change the face of small business in Africa.
Four different types of solar cookers
Parabolic cookers, Panel cookers, Evacuated tube cookers ans Solar box cookers. They all work and deserve their place in the sun…
…but from these, a solar box cooker is the safest, most reliable, most practical as it offers the best possible chance of establishing solar cooking as a new lifestyle anywhere in the world.