Sun Oven FAQ


Why use a Sun Oven?

Since its first days, Sun Ovens International has had four simple goals.

• Make a reliable product
• Help people save energy
• Help people prepare for emergencies
• Dedicate a portion of the profits to promote Sun Oven cooking in developing countries

SOI is proud of its products, history of benefiting the world, and of making the Sun Oven right here in the USA. In fact, we’ve made them here for the past 35 years!

While many people enjoy the Sun Oven for cooking off-grid or on the trail, there are additional benefits to consider. With the power of the sun, you can enjoy many benefits including:

• Improving your sprouting in the cold weather
• Kill bugs in your preparedness foods
• Dehydrate amazing jerky or sundried tomatoes
• Pasteurize drinking water when the grid goes down
• Save money on your energy bill while cooking

Seven benefits of cooking with the sun

When you cook a meal with a Sun Oven, you are not only saving on cooking fuel costs, but you are also experiencing the many benefits of cooking with the sun: from the fun of it to the financial independence of it. Let’s look at the top seven benefits of this “Brighter Way to Cook”.

Number 1: Cooking in the Sun Oven is Fun!

SOI does a lot of work in Haiti. There they call the Sun Oven the “magic box.” In a country that depends on wood for cooking fires, they have a hard time believing that there’s no flame and yet their food comes out fully cooked. Amazingly, you can put food in a black box, add a little sun, and you get a cooked meal. One that is full of flavor, moist, with all the natural juices locked in. There is joy in simply changing your perspective on something that you take for granted and do every day. It’s fun to add a little magic back to cooking.

Campers, RV travelers, off-road enthusiasts, hunters, preppers and homesteaders alike all love to pull their Sun Oven out and cook for their friends and family. They have fun with the questions and comments. It’s a unique crowd-pleaser and a great way to meet new people.

It’s even fun teaching the kids about the power of the sun and how solar works. There is nothing more important than the sun, as it plays a big part in keeping our planet vibrant.

Number 2: Cooking with the Sun Oven is Forgiving!

Because of its natural temperature controls, nothing burns when you cook in the sun. Food doesn’t dry out or scorch. The Sun Oven makes it really hard to mess up a meal. It’s like a solar-powered Crock Pot, you can set it and forget it. Once cooked, the gentle heat keeps your food hot and moist longer than any oven.

Compared to any other method of cooking, it’s by far the most forgiving.

Number 3: Cooking with the Sun Oven is Flavorful!

Gentle temperature changes draw out flavors from food. Slow and even cooking gives complex carbohydrates time to break down. The result is simple sugars that give your food a flavorful taste you can’t get any other way. It’s the difference between caramel and burned sugar. Which would you rather eat?

In the Sun Oven there’s no movement of air. The warm and humid environment seals in the flavor. Also, nothing boils over and burns. Flavors never leak out.

The even heating gives fresh-baked bread an incredible taste and texture. A Sun Oven makes the absolute best environment for the perfect loaf of bread!

Number 4: Cooking with the Sun Oven is Flexible!

Ever use an oven where you can’t burn, dry, scorch or overcook your food? That’s the Sun Oven. Knowing the sun will never burn or dry out your meal puts you in control. Your food never controls you. We call it “cooking with confidence”.

Cooking in the Sun Oven gives you two ways to cook.

First, you can cook quickly. Take a thawed and oven-ready three-pound chicken and put it in a pot with your choice of vegetables. Then simply place the pot with chicken and vegetables in your preheated Sun Oven, realign your oven with the sun every 30 minutes for the next hour and a half, and your three-pound chicken is done!

Second, you take your time and cook slowly. Using the same sized chicken, this example uses a frozen chicken. Put the frozen chicken and vegetables in a pot and place it in the Sun Oven early in the morning, before you go to work. Then set the Sun Oven facing due South and leave for the entire day. You’ll come back home to a hot and juicy meal ready to eat. Remember, you can’t overcook it!

Think about your Sun Oven as a “solar crockpot” and you get the picture.

Quick-cooking fact: If you realign your Sun Oven every 30 minutes, your cooking time is only 30 minutes longer than an oven or stovetop recipe.

Can’t wait to check your dinner? Simply add 15 additional minutes to your cooking time every time you open the glass door for any reason.

Number 5: Cooking with the Sun Oven is Flameproof!

Flameproof means it’s safe! Use it at parks or campgrounds even when they ban open flame cooking.

Being portable, the Sun Oven is easily set it up in your backyard, the beach, or beside your camper. No need to worry about setbacks and fires! Only the inside gets hot–the outside always stays cool!

The reason nothing ever burns in the Sun Oven is the same reason it is flameproof. The Sun Oven is a sealed environment. The air, the pot, and the food are all exactly the same temperature within a very insulated container. Compare that to cooking on your stovetop. The heat transfers from the stove burner to the pot, then to the food. If you forget to stir the pot, your food burns. You need to stir to distribute the heat throughout the food. Your stove is openly heating the pot and much of the energy is lost or heat’s up the outside of the pot.

Since the outside stays cool, you can use your Sun Oven when fires are not allowed on your deck, and even in dry conditions. It’s safe as well as convenient.

Number 6: Cooking with the Sun Oven is Fossil Fuel Free!

Think about it! No wood. No gas! No charcoal! No dinosaurs!

Your power to cook isn’t dependent on anyone. The sun comes up every morning. You just get up in the morning and look East and there it is! The Sun Oven requires nothing other than the sun. Align it and you are ready to cook.

Cooking with the sun is free! You’ll never run out of solar energy. You’ll never need to run to the store for charcoal or a tank of propane again.

Cooking with the sun is free! You’ll never run out of solar energy. You’ll never need to run to the store for charcoal or a tank of propane again.

Number 7: Cooking with the Sun Oven is Financially Favorable!

Our customers initially purchase a Sun Oven as a part of their preparedness plan. Their goal being using a Sun Oven® during emergencies and power outages. Many use their Sun Oven to gain the necessary experience. Then they used it over and over and eventually use it regularly. As they used it more and more, they noticed lower utility bills. Soon switch to using it out of financial freedom as much as convenience and taste.

Our customers initially purchase a Sun Oven as a part of their preparedness plan. Their goal being using a Sun Oven during emergencies and power outages. Many use their Sun Oven to gain the necessary experience. Then they used it over and over and eventually use it regularly. As they used it more and more, they noticed lower utility bills. Soon switch to using it out of financial freedom as much as convenience and taste.

As an added benefit, with a Sun Oven, you don’t heat up your house! By cooking outside you save on fuel costs and save cooling costs. The average American household spends about 14% of its utilities on cooking fuel. The savings aren’t all from cooking fuel. Depending on where you live, you can spend a significant portion of your utility budget on air conditioning too.

With your Sun Oven and the freedom of cooking outdoors, your inside oven is no longer working against your air conditioning. Our customers tell us it’s amazing how quickly the Sun Oven® paid for itself with the resulting reduction in cooking fuel and utility bills.

What can I cook in a Sun Oven?

Anything you can cook in a conventional electric or gas oven and most things you can cook on a stovetop can be cooked in a Sun Oven. You can bake, boil and steam, so the only foods you cannot cook are fried foods.

Will food prepared in a Sun Oven taste the same as food prepared in my conventional oven?

The food tastes much better! Sun Oven cooking allows many of the natural flavors of food, which get baked out in conventional ovens, to remain.

The slow, even rise in temperatures in a Sun Oven gives the complex carbohydrates time to break down into simple sugars allowing subtle natural flavors to emerge. Sun baked-foods stay moist (the natural internal juices do not bake out) resulting in a superior, moist taste and much less shrinkage.

Is there a manual or tutorial?

We offer lots of help, tutorials, recipes, and other information on our User Resources site at

What is the cooking temperature range?

The Sun Oven will reach temperatures of 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking temperatures will vary depending on the brightness of the sun and how often the oven is refocused to follow the sun.

How long does it take to cook?

Cooking times are close to the same as those in a conventional oven.

Because the sun sometimes goes behind clouds, cooking times can vary. At times it may take a little longer.

The factors that affect the cooking time are: the quality of the sunlight at the time you are cooking, the types and quantities of the food being cooked, and how often the oven is refocused. A good rule of thumb is to add 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time for each time the oven door is opened.

The amazing thing about using a Sun Oven is that it is almost impossible to burn food; and sun-cooked food does not dry out. This enables food to be cooked for a longer time at a lower temperature or in less time at a higher temperature, without affecting the quality of the food.

There are two ways to cook in a Sun Oven. If you refocus the oven to follow the sun every 25 to 30 minutes, cooking times and methods will be very similar to cooking with a conventional stove or oven.

Or a Sun Oven can be used for slow cooking, much like a crock-pot. You can prepare your dinner, put it in the Sun Oven and point the oven toward where the sun will be approximately halfway through the time you will be gone. Leave, and come home to a tasty, slow-cooked dinner. If you run late, there is no need to worry; the Sun Oven will keep your food warm, moist, and fresh for hours.

Does food need to be stirred?

No, stirring to prevent scorching is not required when cooking in a Sun Oven due to the fact that there are no hot spots. The temperature of the food and the pot remain the same and rise evenly. It is almost impossible to burn food in a Sun Oven.

Can more than one thing be cooked at the same time?

Yes, the Sun Oven has been designed to accommodate baking two loaves of bread at a time. Several flat pans can be cross stacked to enable several layers when making granola or cookies. Two small stackable pots can be used on the leveling tray.

The leveling tray can be removed to increase the usable area inside the Sun Oven and allow larger stackable pots or pans to be used. (It is important to note that if the leveling tray is removed, pots and pans should be placed on a trivet, not on the floor of the oven. To cook evenly, there must be air flow all the way around the pot. A trivet will allow enough air to pass under the pot to ensure an even heat.)

Does a Sun Oven require special pots and pans? What size pots can I use?

No, you can use any normal cookware.

However - dark, thin-walled pots with lids work best. Dark pots change the light from the sun into heat energy. Shiny aluminum pots and pans cause light to be reflected out thereby reducing the oven’s temperature. Glass casserole dishes with lids also work well.

With the exception of bakery goods, everything cooked in a Sun Oven should be cooked in a pot with a lid. Lids hold steam in the pot. If a lid is not used, the steam will fog the inside of the glass and reduce the temperature. For baking cakes, breads, cookies and pies, dark cookie sheets and baking tins work best.

The levelator rack (where you put your pot/pan) is 8 1/4″ wide x 13″ long. The tallest pot (including lid) you can use in the Sun Oven is 6 1/2″ high.

Do I need special recipes to cook in a Sun Oven?

The Sun Oven reaches temperatures comparable to that of conventional ovens; therefore no special recipes are required.

However, if you are interested in recipes designed specifically for the Sun Oven, take a look at the Sun Oven Cookbook.

Will food brown when cooked in a Sun Oven?

In full sun, bread baked in a Sun Oven will brown. To insure a brown crust every time bread is baked, a light mist of water can be sprayed on the dough just before it is placed in Sun Oven. A dark lustrous finish on breads can be achieved by using an egg-or milk-wash on the dough before baking.

When poultry is baked in a Sun Oven in a covered pot it does not brown. A golden brown surface can be attained on meats and poultry by sprinkling a small amount of sugar over them. Paprika is also useful for creating an appetizing appearance.

Will I need to be concerned about getting burned when using a Sun Oven?

The only parts that get hot are the oven chamber, the cooking pan and the glass door. Proper care must be taken to use hot pads when opening the door and removing food. The entire exterior of the oven, including the reflectors, does not get hot and remains safe to touch.

What is it made of? Do I need to maintain it?

The following materials used to make a Sun Oven:
Reflectors: Anodized aluminum (which will never oxidize, rust or corrode)
Outer Shell: ABS plastic
Bezel: Poplar wood (kiln dried)
Inner shell: Anodized aluminum
Door: Tempered low iron glass
Between the aluminum inner shell and the plastic outer shell there is a thick batt of food grade fiberglass insulation.

For the most part, a Sun Oven needs very little maintenance. But like any other appliance, you should take basic care of it.

The most important part of the Sun Oven is the gasket. The gasket forms an airtight seal and will last a lifetime. The gasket is the reason the Sun Oven gets much hotter than homemade solar cookers or other knockoffs you may have seen. A quick wipe between uses with a damp cloth is all the maintenance the gasket needs.

The reflectors are constructed of highly polished, anodized aluminum that is 86% reflective. They’ll never oxidize, rust, or corrode. Clean the reflectors with any household glass cleaner. Use Windex, vinegar, water, or whatever you use to clean your windows. The reflectors might get scratched and dented over time, but that’s ok, it doesn’t effect the performance of the Sun Oven.

The outer shell is made of ABS plastic, while the inner cooking chamber is constructed of black anodized metal. Sandwiched between the cooking chamber and the outer shell is a thick layer of nontoxic, food-grade, fiberglass insulation used in pizza ovens. It can be 400° inside the oven and the sides are cool enough to touch. You won’t feel any heat from the inside.

Occasionally the parts in the direct sun get warm, but the Sun Oven isn’t losing any heat. The insulation is rated for pizza ovens that operate at over 500°. Therefore, the Sun Oven retains heat very well.

The inner anodize shell is easy to clean and maintain. Just wipe it out with a dishrag or even spray it out with a garden hose.

The glass door of the Sun Oven is constructed of custom-formulated, low-iron, tempered glass. While the low-iron glass is four times more expensive than standard tempered glass, it adds efficiency and is critical to the heat retention of the Sun Oven.

The thick, wooden bezel around the top of the Sun Oven is handmade out of high quality poplar wood, with a water-resistant stain. It's best to apply Linseed oil to the wood every 3-4 years to protect the wood.

What are the dimensions of the Sun Oven?

The complete dimensions of the Sun Oven when folded are 20″ x 22.5″ x 15″high.

The back of the outside outer box is 14″ high and the front of the outer box is 9″ high. The back of the oven chamber is 11″ high and the front is 8″ high, with an average depth of 9.5″.

The door opening for the oven chamber is 14″ in diameter. The levelator rack (where you put your pot/pan) is 8 1/4″ wide x 13″ long.

When opened the reflectors are 32″ in diameter.

The total weight is only 23 pounds.

Where is the Sun Oven manufactured?

The Sun Ovens sold in North America are made in Pulaski, WI. With the exception of the thermometer, all of the component parts used in the Sun Ovens are made in the USA.

Sun Ovens that are used outside of North America are often made in the country in which they are used.

How difficult is it to focus a Sun Oven?

Focusing a Sun Oven is very easy. All that is required is to watch the shadows created by the oven. When the shadows are even on all sides, the cooker is directly focused.

The built-in leveling leg on the back of the oven allows for easy tracking. You regulate the temperature by turning the oven towards the sun and focusing the oven. If you want the oven at a high temperature you turn the oven towards the sun and directly focus the oven. If you want a lower temperature in the oven you focus the oven directly, then turn the oven slightly out of direct focus.

How often must a Sun Oven be refocused?

The need to refocus depends a great deal on what you are cooking, the time of day, and the temperature you wish to maintain.

A good rule of thumb is to plan to readjust every 30 minutes to maintain maximum heat. At noon the sun is high in the sky and moves quickly past the maximum focus point, creating the need to refocus more often. Later in the day you will not need to refocus as often. The Sun Oven is equipped with a built in levelator, which keeps food level and avoids spills while being refocused.

Many meals can be cooked without refocusing. Sun Oven users often will put their ovens outside, focused for the mid-day sun, with their dinner in it when they leave for work in the morning. As the sun moves overhead, the temperature in the Sun Oven chamber slowly rises to a cooking level. As the sun passes, the food is kept warm and when they return from work they have a warm, sun-cooked dinner. (Keep in mind food will not burn in a Sun Oven and that the chamber is extremely well insulated, allowing food to stay warm for hours.)

How long will a Sun Oven last?

The estimated life of a Sun Oven is 15+ years. With proper care it should last a lifetime.

However, the life span will depend upon how you take care of your Sun Oven. Like any appliance, it requires common-sense care. If you leave it outside in the elements 24/7, it certainly won't last as long as if you properly store it inside, in a temperature regulated environment.

What is the warranty on the Sun Oven?

Yes, there is a 15-year warranty on the reflectors against rust or corrosion and a 15-year warranty on the gasket against cracking.

Can I use a Sun Oven in the winter?

Yes, a Sun Oven can be used on a clear winter day. The most important factor in using a Sun Oven is the brightness of the sun, not the outside air temperature. Often, a 40-degree, clear, low-humidity day will allow food to cook faster than a 100-degree day with high humidity.

The Sun Oven has been used very successfully at the base camp of a Mt. Everest expedition where the temperatures are often well below zero.

There are, however, more cooking hours available in the summer than in the winter. In the summer, it is not unusual to cook from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, whereas during the early winter, effective cooking is limited to 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Can a Sun Oven be used to dry or dehydrate foods?

Yes, a Sun Oven makes an excellent solar dryer. When the latch (which holds the door shut for cooking) is turned inward and the glass door is set on top of the latch, moist air can escape and the temperature inside the oven will remain low enough to keep the items being dried from starting to cook.

Can this be used off-grid?

One of the most powerful uses of the Sun Oven is during times of crisis. The oven is a great tool for emergency preparedness. The basic question for emergency preparation is, how do you plan to cook if the power grid goes down?

Hurricanes and power outages have become more frequent and more powerful over the past two decades. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, it took 352 days before the Government restored power in some areas. In many places, such as California, power companies frequently reduce or shut off-grid power. This is because of insufficient supply or the risks of sagging lines and forest fires. Even worse, you’ve probably heard of the potential threats of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP).

Short-term and long-term cooking methods you can use without fuel or power may be very important in times of crisis. One of the best solutions to emergency preparedness cooking is the sun itself. It comes up every morning, sets every evening, and is free to use.

An Important Emergency Preparedness Tool

The Sun Oven is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your emergency preparedness supplies. There is nothing like a hot meal at the end of a long and stressful grid-down day. But don’t limit yourself to just cooking. Heat water for a bath, sterilize medical tools, etc. All are uses that can get you through the tough times.

Alternate Power Sources

No single cooking solution will solve 100% of your emergency preparedness needs. You must have backup options. Two of the best are propane and butane. While the fuels themselves don’t expire, it’s important to keep in mind that manufacturers only rate the seals on these canisters for five years. You must plan on cycling any fuel you plan on using during grid-down times.

It’s also important to know how much propane you can legally store. There will not be a propane police officer knocking on your door to confiscate your propane. However, if you have more propane on your premises than allowed by the local ordinance or your insurance company, you may be liable for any damage caused by a fire. If you ever have a fire, there’s a good chance that you’ve just voided your homeowner’s insurance or your fire insurance. Just a quick tip, be aware of all applicable rules.

Are Sun Oven used in countries outside of the United States?

Yes, Sun Ovens International, Inc. is involved in solar cooking projects in deforested countries on 5 continents.

We have been innovative in developing methods of placement, training, and marketing to assist in the positioning of over 39,000 Sun Ovens in the U.S. and more than 100 developing countries, and 250 large VILLAGER SUN OVENS in deforested developing countries.

We are striving to develop and implement comprehensive solar cooking programs which will radically decrease the developing world’s dependence on fuel wood and dung as the primary cooking fuels, while benefiting the environment, raising the standard of living, and improving the health of the poor worldwide. Domestic Sun Oven sales help finance these endeavors.

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