Leaving behind a solar cooking nation
This was our journey…
Our 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.
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.
Built-in Solar Ovens, portable Solar Geysers and community home based solar bakery research
2013 – 2018
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 it requires huge investments and more research.
We also developed and tested a portable solar hot water geyser for people living in zink houses without any basic services. The geyser needs to be filled up manually and heats up 25 litres of water per day while providing hot water inside the house.
The concept of a solar home based bakery in communities was taken from idea to implementation, training and mentoring. It was a huge personal investment of money, equipment, time and ongoing evaluation and guidance.
This project eventually failed, but the lessons learned and the practical experience gained has proven to be valuable in the implementation of our current solar bakery on a farm in the Northern Cape.
To be ale to bake commercially and sustainably from the power of the sun, is a huge challenge and should be further explored.
The Sungenius Evacuated Tube cooker – 2016
Evacuated tube solar cookers are one of the well talked about solar cookers internationally.
Although it is highly effective and reach impressive temperatures, we had to abandon this cooker as it was not being used on a regular basis by customers. It did not serve our mission of “Leaving behind a solar cooking nation” well.
However, we still use these tubes in our solar bakery on a daily basis.
Sungenius Parabolic box cooker – 2016
Parabolic solar cookers are very powerful and we combined a parabolic and a box cooker trying to get the best of both technologies.
Sungenius Patio Solar Oven (Old model) 2016 – 2018
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 a cloud arises?”
The performance, convenience and reliability went up dramatically and it immediately attracted a different customer profile.
There are basically four different types of solar cookers
Parabolic cookers, Panel cookers, Evacuated tube cookers and Solar box cookers. They all work and deserve their place in the sun…
We decided to focus on a solar box cooker as it offers the best possible chance of establishing solar cooking as a new lifestyle, which is what we want to achieve.
A solar box cooker, conveniently mounted on wheels with electrical backup, is by far the most impressive and practical solar cooker to be used in all weather conditions.