A new solar oven has been designed and offered as a Kickstarter project: GoSun Grill. The oven features a large heat-resistant double tube with a vacuum for insulation, and a parabolic reflector to focus the sun’s rays on the tubular oven. Oven temperatures are said to reach 360 degrees F, which is higher than most other solar ovens. The claimed temperature is believable because evacuated tubes are excellent insulators and parabolic mirrors focus the sun’s rays very efficiently.
An optional “thermal battery” is not a battery at all. It is a container filled with a thermal change material that absorbs and releases heat. Charge the “battery” by inserting it into the oven tube when it’s sunny. The heat is retained for cooking later when it is cloudy, or when the sun is low in the sky, or even at night.
Space within the vacuum tube for pans and food is limited. The narrow long pans hold about 5 cups of food. That’s enough for a meal for 2 to 4 people, I would think. The project’s author claims the oven can feed 5 to 8 people, but I think that is stretching it. The oven temperature is hot enough to cook just about any food you would normally cook in a conventional oven.
Is this project trustworthy?
You may have read some recent news stories about crowd-sourced projects that collected large amounts of money from supporters, and then never provided the promised product. In some cases, this was due to incompetence; in other cases perhaps it was due to criminal intent. And the projects that do bring a product to market sometimes provide the product months or years later than the stated delivery date.
So it is reasonable to ask: Is the GoSun Grill likely to become a real product, delivered on time? In my opinion: Yes. The company behind the project already offers 4 different GoSun products designed much the same way:
Worst case scenario, the product is delivered later than expected.
The MSRP is currently $549, which is more than I would be willing to pay for the GoSun Grill. But the Kickstarter project’s Early Bird price is only $349 (basic oven, no thermal battery or stand). And that seems a fair price for this type of solar oven.
The project needs to raise $140,000 to go into production. At $138,000 as of this writing, they are over 98% of the way to full funding. So it looks like this project will be successful.
For prepping and survival purposes, having a reliable way to cook at oven temperatures, even if clouds roll in or the sun is low in the sky, is very useful. This type of oven does away with some of the traditional limitations of solar powered cooking by means of its “thermal battery”. The size of the oven is a little small, but a larger design would be more expensive. You might not be able to cook every meal in a GoSun Grill, but having this capability alongside other cooking options is an excellent resource.