Gear Review – GoSun Solar Cooker: Is it Hot or Not?
Sometimes it is a real treat to get a chance to review a product. This was the case with the GoSun Solar Cooker. It intrigued me at every level – its looks, its capabilities and its future potential with the limitations unleashed.
Behold the Beauty of Science
Out of the box, I felt like I was looking at a rare piece of art: truly. The deep blue solar tube/oven looked like something I would see in our locale which is famous for glass art. It was really impressive looking, with a ruby red interior. Then I unfolded the ‘wings’ which surround the tube to catch the sunlight and those were large and shiny and also, just lovely to behold! Now you have to understand, this was my first interaction with any kind of solar cooker ever, so I had no idea what to expect. Honestly, a long tube was the last thing I was expecting! Not your average cooking pan shape, you know?
Filling the Cooker
Fortunately the GoSun comes with a detailed instruction manual which explains the science of it and how it works. I read through the manual and was impatient to give it a try- even at 3 pm-ish on a cold, albeit sunny, northeastern November day, on the backside of a mountain where the sun disappears at 4. So I ran into my kitchen and chopped up some onions, garlic and potatoes enough for a side dish for dinner for 3.
First bummer….the long tubular cooking pan actually didn’t hold very much. ( I didn’t know that you could pack out the thing as shown in this video.) So I fit in what I could and ran outside to set up the cooker. I had already noted indoors while taking hero shots of it right out of the box in the sun, that the tube had been warming up in that short time in the sun! So I had high hopes for my taters…and I was not to be disappointed.
Here Comes the Sun, er, There Goes the Sun
Chasing the sun over the the next hour and continually having to move the cooker out of the shade where I’d find it when I remembered to check it again and again (second bummer), had me doubtful if it could possibly cook such a hard vegetable with my haphazard attention to it and the short duration of waning sun. When I lost the sun altogether, I brought the cooker in and peeked at the results: those potatoes had indeed cooked through! I then let it set because I wouldn’t be making dinner for a few more hours….or so I thought…It actually wound up being one of those nights when we didn’t get our dinner eaten until 9pm!
When I pulled out the tube to check the potatoes, after 6 hours of them just sitting in the tube after only being out in the sun for less than an hour – they were steaming hot!! We were amazed!
The bad news was there just weren’t very many of them! They’d shrunk a bit and all we got was 2 cups worth. So, being a person who is always maximizing my time and multitasking, etc., my initial crush on this piece of technology was starting to give way to some practical considerations: a frying pan holds a lot more, does not have to be moved around the yard to catch the sun and – a big one- is easier to clean.
Cleaning the GoSun was not too fun. I had to carry it down to my basement utility sink because it was simply too long and awkward to fit in my kitchen sink. It comes with a scrubber that you attach to the end of the pan to use like you might use a bottle brush to clean it. Which was fine, but screwing that on and then screwing it back off and plunging and cleaning it were frankly, just too much trouble for 2 cups of food. (post note: Matt, from GoSun tells me that in the manual they recommend NOT removing the solar tube from the base for cleaning….oops! But – I think having that attached would make it even more unwieldy to clean.)
Packing it all back up wasn’t especially simple either with all the components needing to be “just so” to fit back in the box. The GoSun is definitely not something I would take on a camping trip or use for bugging out. Just too much bulk and hassle. And the tube is breakable.
Why I Respect This Company
That all being said – I am so very excited for the next version they have cooking! It is going to have some amazing upgrades and changes which will make it more practical, green, and versatile. The guys who are developing this are earnest scientist/inventors who have a hunger (food words used on purpose) to innovate in response to the critiques of their former creations. I had been hesitating on reviewing the GoSun because I honestly felt I wouldn’t use it again after that first time for the reasons I outlined above. When Matt Gillespie asked me for my honest thoughts on it, I felt terrible and didn’t want to burst his bubble. No such thing – and I quote: “There’s no better way to learn than a bit of failure. :)” (I’m pretty sure Thomas Edison probably said this too!) This man truly welcomed my feedback and even with jollity said he’d expected me to say exactly what I said and then proceeded to bait me with some ideas of the upgrades he was working on to address those issues.
So Here’s the Bait:
Innovative Design– The GoSun’s patent pending design converts +80% of sunlight into heat and captures that heat inside a perfect insulator: a vacuum. This means that you can cook in even the harshest conditions. We are also breaking new ground by incorporating a liquid phase change battery, allowing users to store energy for hours to cook whenever they’re ready.
Cooks Through Clouds– It need not be a sunny day to solar cook. The vacuum tube is so efficient at capturing and holding heat that solar cooking is possible even on overcast days.
New Green Tech– Green technology often improves incrementally; this is different. This is a game changer. Convenient and easily adopted at a residential scale at a reasonable price, the green future we were promised is here, and it’s delicious.
Sustainable Development Potential– Its about more than fun in the Sun. We’ve partnered with the UN Foundation’s Global Alliance For Clean Cookstoves to redesign a model for developing markets and are close to launching our social enterprise. The stove has been proven to save time, money and forest in Guatemala, and is poised to be launched in 2015.
Made For A Busy Lifestyle– The GoSun sets up in seconds, and can cook a meal in 20 minutes, rarely needing adjusting to the Sun. The thermal battery gives users the security of knowing that their food will always finish, regardless of the weather, making the GoSun a true game changer in the realm of fuel-free cooking.
Culinarily Unique– Cooking from 360° in a high moisture environment, the GoSun’s cook style is best described as a “steam-fry”. The results are unmistakably rich with the vital moisture of the food being retained unlike most other cooking methods. The device excels at baking breads, roasting meats and frying veggies.
Nutritionally Superior– The process of grilling and frying often destroys the nutrition in many common foods. Baking can also let the nutrition escape if not managed. While there’s no one cooking method that’s best, the high moisture and gradually heated environment of the GoSun does better job at retaining nutrition than most.
How Can You Resist?
To grab a GoSun Solar Cooker, follow this company, learn of their vision to help people globally and to keep up to date with their promising innovations including keeping posted regarding their new model, visit www.gosunstove.com. Check out the Kickstarter Campaign for the new stove here!