What Makes It "Green"
Sun Ovens were developed in 1986 by Tom Burns, a retired restaurateur from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was very active with Rotary International. From his experience in operating restaurants he knew a great deal about cooking and from his international travel he became aware of the ever-growing problem of deforestation. Tom took a concept that has been around for centuries and engineered into it more recently developed materials to produce the world's most effective solar cooking devices. With the help of the Sandia National Laboratories the oven was refined.
From 1986 to 1997 Sun Ovens were made and marketed by Burns Milwaukee, Inc. Thousands of portable models have been shipped to more than 126 countries around the globe. Sun Ovens have helped feed refugees in relocation camps, natives in remote Third World villages, workers at field sites, climbers on the slopes of Mount Everest, and soldiers during the Persian Gulf War.
As populations increase and forests and fossil fuels disappear, the need for an alternative method of cooking around the world is intensifying. Sun Ovens International is committed to providing an alternative. Over 2 billion people cook with wood, charcoal or dung as their primary cooking fuel and the social, economic and environmental impacts are significant. The Global Sun Oven has been carefully engineered to provide an alternative to using wood and dung.
The Sun Oven is often compared with box cookers made out of aluminum foil and cardboard (homemade boxes of various sizes and shapes). While the energy conversion principles are the same, the materials utilized in manufacturing Sun Ovens have been carefully researched to include the most efficient materials available. In order to capture the maximum amount of energy, achieve the highest possible temperature, and retain the greatest amount of heat, while minimizing the weight, the materials utilized have been selected based on efficiency and quality. Sun Ovens International is determined to disseminate solar appliances that truly meet people’s needs rather than distributing perpetuating cookers that work only under the most ideal conditions.
In the developing world, the high quality and features of the Sun Oven has overcome the cultural obstacles, which have caused other solar cooking projects to fail. The most often-cited reason for the failure of solar cooking projects is that most people in the developing world work while the sun is out and eat their main meal of the day after sundown. Food cooked in most solar cooking devices must be consumed immediately or it will become cold. The Sun Oven is very well insulated, which allows food cooked in the afternoon sun to stay warm until it is ready to be consumed later in the evening.
Another reason solar cooking has not been widely accepted is that most solar cookers require more time to cook than cooking over a wood fire. Women in developing countries are reluctant to start cooking many hours earlier than they are accustomed to accommodate a new cooking method. The Sun Oven has been designed to cook in the same amount of time as cooking over a traditional three stone wood fire. NGO's which have worked with Sun Ovens have found they have had an easier time getting people to use them because the ovens work so well and maintain cooking temperatures significantly higher than other types of solar devices.
The initial price of a Global Sun Oven is higher, but due to its long life, ability to cook on partly cloudy days and allowing food to stay warm for hours, the cost per meal is lower than any other solar cooking device.