GoSun: Portable solar oven cooks food in as little as 10 minutes
September 16, 2013
The recently unveiled GoSun Stove is a portable, tube-shaped solar oven that's billed as being powerful enough to cook a full meal, even on cloudy days. Much like the Solar Kettle, this solar cooker uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a glass cylinder and cook the contents inside. But while the Solar Kettle was built for heating up beverages and boiled eggs, the GoSun Stove sports a slightly larger set of mirrors and a stainless steel tray for food, allowing it to act as a portable convection oven for baking, frying, boiling, and more.
The central cooking tube is made from borosilicate glass, which is resistant to thermal shock, and has a vacuum beneath the surface to insulate the interior. The inside of the tube is lined with copper, stainless steel, and aluminum nitrile to better absorb and conduct heat from the sun's rays. Altogether, the tube measure 2 ft (0.6 m) in length and 2.25 in (5.7 cm) in diameter, giving it enough room for 3 lbs (1.4 kg) worth of food or 53 oz (1.6 l) of liquid. A set of aluminum stands holds the stove firmly in place and can be tilted downward, making it easier to dispense coffee and other hot beverages.
Once it's been unfolded and aligned with the sun, the mirrors are designed to concentrate light on the center tube for hours as the sun moves across the sky. After taking about 10 minutes to pre-heat, the stove's cooking time depends on the type of food being prepared and the intensity of the sunlight at the moment. On a clear, sunny day, it's said to be capable of cooking six hot dogs in about ten minutes and it's still effective in cloudy conditions, taking about two hours to bake a tray of muffins. The developers claim to have recorded temperatures as high as 700°F (371°C) inside the oven, but they say it tends to cook best between 200°F (93°C) and 550°F (288°C). The stove also includes a sliding tray with a heat-resistant handle, allowing cooks to add or remove food at any time.
Aside from its tubular design, what really sets the GoSun Stove apart from most solar cookers is its portability. Both the metal stands and parabolic mirrors fold together around the glass tube to form a compact bundle just 8 in (20 cm) tall and 5 in (13 cm) wide. Without any food inside, the whole oven only weighs 3.5 lbs (1.5 kg) and can easily slip into a backpack or be carried using the stands as a handle. According to the developers, it also remains cool enough on the outside while cooking for anyone to pack it up at a moment's notice without getting burned.
Naturally, the designers are anticipating the GoSun Stove will appeal to campers, as well as anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors. They also hope it will help the environment by providing a renewable alternative for developing regions of the world that mostly rely on wood fires for cooking.
The development team is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to begin mass-producing the GoSun Stove, which recently doubled its original goal of US$40,000. A pledge of $219 puts you on the list for the solar oven plus a user guide explaining how to cook different types of food, a cleaning brush, and a two-year warranty. The full retail price is expected to be $279.
Alternatively, the developers are offering a $79 model called the GoSun MINI, which is shorter than its big brother and uses a non-folding wooden frame.
The stoves are expected to begin shipping in December of this year.
For now though, check out the video below to see some of the many dishes the GoSun Stove can help prepare.