Best Outdoor Solar Lights: 2023 Buyers Guide
By Matt Chester /
A solar oven (or solar cooker) uses the power of the sun to bake, cook, fry, broil and boil food. These devices are an awesome and sustainable way to cook food without the use of fossil fuels, and they can eliminate unwanted residual indoor heat that’s common when cooking or baking in the kitchen. For traveling or emergency situations, a solar oven is an essential tool to keep hot food at hand without bulky fuel canisters and mechanical stoves.
The solar oven is nothing new — people have been preparing food using sunlight for ages, and the practice is still alive and well in the 21st century. Modern solar ovens are usually used for slow-cooking stews and meats or for baking, and DIY solar oven designs festoon the internet.
If DIY isn’t your thing, we’ve curated the best ready-made solar ovens on the market.
When choosing the best solar ovens, we considered features including size and weight, ease of use, durability, portability, cost and customer reviews. Based on these factors, we recommend the following products for cooking with solar energy:
|Best Solar Ovens||Our Award||Buy Now|
|Haines 2.0 SunUp Solar Cooker |
and Dutch Oven Kit
|Best Overall||Check Price|
|GoSun Go Camp Stove Solar Cooker||Best Compact Solar Stove||Check Price|
|Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe||Best Portability||Check Price|
|Sun Oven All American Sun Oven||Best Heavy-Duty Oven||Check Price|
|SolCook All Season Solar Cooker||Best Under $100||Check Price|
This top-rated solar oven kit is up to any culinary task you throw at it. It can cook to 375 degrees F thanks to its adjustable panels, which allow you to achieve maximum sun exposure and heat transference. The Haines 2.0 SunUp will bring a quart of water to boil in about 40 minutes and is the perfect choice for stews and slow cooking. Extremely portable and durable, this solar cooker is perfect for a wide range of applications, from camping and emergency preparedness to cookouts on hot summer days.
Maximum Temperature: 375°F
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 125 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The Haines 2.0 solar cooker offers improved heat control and sun absorption engineered into a durable, portable unit. From no-cost backyard roasts to off-grid living and emergencies, the Haines 2.0 is worthy of its place at the top of our list.
A solar camping cooker for those on the go, the GoSun compact solar stove provides ultimate cooking performance in a tiny package. Weighing just under two pounds and boasting a compact 14.17 inches long, this lightweight solar cooker reaches heavyweight temperatures up to 550 degrees F in full sunlight. GoSun’s patented absorption technology harnesses multiple light spectrums, so as long as you have a bit of sun, you’re cooking! Included extras get you cooking faster:
All of these features in a small package comes at the expense of capacity: You can only cook 13.5 ounces of food at a time. But trust us: 13.5 ounces of hot food sure beats a handful of trail mix.
Maximum Temperature: 550°F
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 250 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: If you don’t have space for a larger camp stove or solar cooker, GoSun’s compact offering fits the bill for personal solar cooking. Great features and a high cooking temp translate to hot food ready in minutes.
Sunflair’s excellent portable solar oven is replete with features, useful tools and intuitive function and portability. On sunny days, this versatile oven can cook anything from pizza to cookies and comes with everything you need to get cookin’:
Weighing in at just over a pound and folding to the size of a seat cushion, the Sunflair Portable Solar Oven is mission-ready for any adventure (or misadventure). Cooking racks are a spacious 16 inches by 10 inches, which is more than enough room for a dutch oven. As a plus, Sunflair donates a portion of its sales to provide safe, clean and environmentally friendly cooking solutions across the globe.
Maximum Temperature: 285°F
Customer Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars with over 130 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The Sunflair Portable Oven is everything you could ask for in a compact, portable solar unit. With the comprehensive kit, you can get cooking right out of the box and help ensure you get the most from your solar oven wherever life takes you. From backyards to the Serengetti, the Sunflair Portable Solar Oven makes gourmet roaming more attainable than ever.
If basecamp cooking is your thing, look no further than the All American Sun Oven. This spacious oven features a 14-by-14-inch cooking area with 7 inches of headspace — enough room for a standard dutch oven. Highly polished, robust mirrors produce optimum sun reflection. The included thermometer, spill-proof levelator, levelling leg and rock-solid base round out this oven as a basecamp solar-cooking champion. However, these features come at the expense of portability: It weighs 23 pounds and measures 24 by 15.5 by 20.5 inches, so you might want to think twice about taking it backpacking.
Maximum Temperature: 400°F
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with nearly 150 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Not everyone requires or wants a portable solar oven. If you don’t need solar cooking on the go, the All American Solar Oven is far and away the time-tested favorite. Spacious cooking space, excellent thermals and useful features make this the perfect solar oven for stationary backyard cooking or basecamp expeditions.
Spacious. Efficient. Affordable. What’s not to like? The SolCook All Season Solar Cooker features an impressive 17-by-17 inch cooking area, large enough to fit a whole turkey. And with a max temperature of 400 degrees F, you can roast that turkey, too! Articulating panels and a brilliant sighting system allow you to capture optimal sunlight anytime of the day. We would have liked to see a thermometer and better baking trays, though.
Maximum Temperature: 400°F
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with 220 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: It doesn’t come with the bells and whistles of more expensive models, and isn’t quite as portable as competitors. But apples to apples, the SolCook All Season Solar Cooker performs just as well if not better than many more expensive solar ovens. For starters or solar veterans alike, this cooker is a solid, budget-friendly performer.
Anyone cooking indoors on a scorching day knows a hot meal usually means a hot house. With rising temperatures (especially in the West) thousands of people are discovering the benefits of cooking outdoors with solar power, forgoing the sauna-like conditions of indoor cooking. Solar cooking is a non-polluting and fun way to explore the latent potential of photons, and it uses a completely free fuel source.
For emergency situations and self-reliance, a solar oven or cooker is hard to beat for obvious reasons. For backpacking, camping, hunting, fishing and traveling, a solar oven is a wonderful cooking companion, allowing you to forgo expensive, heavy fuels and avoid equipment failure.
Choosing the best solar oven starts with your heating needs. There are three main types of solar ovens: box, panel and parabolic cookers. Each cooks at different temperatures and comes with its own pros and cons:
|Type of Solar Oven||Features|
|Box cookers||Cooks between 194-392°F |
Folding panels reflect light into an oven box
Can accommodate multiple pots and racks
Most commonly used solar cooker
|Panel cookers||Cooking temperatures around 300°F |
Incorporates elements of box and parabolic cookers
Easy to produce and relatively inexpensive
|Parabolic cookers||Cooks at temperatures over 400°F |
Uses bowl-shaped reflector to focus light directly onto food
Higher cooking temperatures allow frying and broiling
More complicated and more expensive
There aren’t any parabolic cookers on our list due to their steep learning curve and price. The preferred option for higher temperature cooking and greater capacity is typically a box cooker, but those who need portability should look to panel cookers.
Generally speaking, panel cookers will be less expensive and lighter than box cookers. For stationary or basecamp cooking, a box cooker is a solid choice, while hikers and travelers should turn their attention to panel cookers.
A solar oven uses reflected sunlight to cook, bake and heat food.
Solar ovens work exceptionally well. With maximum temperatures from 285 to over 550 degrees F, most any food that can be prepared in a conventional oven can be prepared in a solar oven, albeit just a little bit slower.
Both use the same concepts of reflection but differ in how heat is retained. A solar oven uses an insulated box to retain heat, while a solar cooker heats food directly. Practically speaking, this means a solar oven will retain heat better and more consistently than a solar cooker, and usually reaches higher temperatures.
A simple yet effective solar oven can be created with a cardboard box, aluminum foil, tape, plastic wrap, black construction paper and a few simple tools. You can learn how to build your own solar oven here.