Review: SOS Solar Sport solar oven

Solar cooking and baking is not only easy and fun, it is sustainable living at its best. There are many, many solar cooking options ranging from homemade cardboard to expensive pre-made models. Please see my review of the Global Sun Oven here which includes a side-by-side testing with the SOS Solar Sport.

The SOS Solar Sport solar oven is made by the Solar Oven Society, and its information states:

Persons Helping People (PHP) (the sponsor of the Solar Oven Society) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 1991 and based in Minnesota. Following the wishes of its first donor, Virginia Persons, PHP is dedicated to helping alleviate hunger in developing countries by helping people help themselves.

The materials used in the SOS Solar Sport are plastic (excluding the upgraded optional reflectors). The unit is lightweight (about 10 pounds) and easy to transport due to its elongated and low height design. In addition, the cooking chamber of the SOS Solar Sport is long and wide enough to handle a cookie sheet or two cooking pots, making it an effective “whole meal” cooker or baker.

There are several options when choosing the SOS Solar Sport, but the complete package includes the water pasteurization indicator (WAPI), 2 covered enamel cooking pots, thermometer, instruction manual and detachable, folding metal reflectors.

SOS SOLAR SPORT
Pros:

  • Bake, roast, slow cook foods without electricity or power, as long as there is sun available.
  • The design of the SOS Sport is wide enough for 2 3.4 quart pots, or cookie sheets.
  • The SOS Solar Sport offers two positions for maximum sun absorption.
  • The SOS base is wide and not easily tipped over.
  • Optional  detachable, folding reflectors increase the temperatures and efficacy.
  • The SOS Sport can pasteurize water and an optional WAPI (water pasteurization indicator) can be purchased.
  • The Solar Sport is about 10 pounds and easily transported.

Benefits and features of the SOS Solar Sport

FAQs

SOS Solar Sport Brochure (pdf)

Cons:

  • The materials are plastic, including the lid, which makes the unit less durable and may shorten its life span.
  • The lid is 2 pieces of plastic held together with tape. While in theory this is supposed to create an insulated space, what ends up happening is moisture and condensation get trapped in between the plastic panels as they are not airtight. This cuts down on the effectiveness of  the food receiving the sun’s rays.
  • The SOS Solar Sport was designed for third-world countries where the reflector would not be needed. Placing the reflectors onto the SOS Sport does increase the temperature, BUT, it also can (and frequently does) warp the plastic collar of the unit, allowing more air and condensation, which both cut down on its effectiveness.
  • The plastic lid is attached to the plastic bottom by metal S-clamps that can easily become bent.
  • The inside of the SOS Sport is a painted surface which scratches easily revealing a silver reflective surface underneath, which can interfere with the ability to absorb the sun’s rays.
  • The inside corners are not flush, rather there are air spaces revealing the silver reflective surfaces and allowing spilled food to seep behind the plastic to the insulation.
  • The materials and workmanship of the SOS Solar Sport are less than expected for the price of purchasing the unit.

Field Testing
The SOS Solar Sport is easy to transport and set up. It has two positions, one for Summer sun (low and wide) and one for Winter sun (higher and more narrow). It has a wide, stable base, not prone to tip-overs in the wind.

In full Summer sun, the SOS Solar Sport heats up to about 200 degrees slowly, but easily. However, a side-by-side field test with the Global Sun Oven reveal the SOS heated up more slowly and did not attain the higher temperatures of the GSO. The SOS Sport also did not retain temperatures as well as the Global Sun Oven.

In food testing, the food was cooked well, including baked goods which browned well. The food tasted very good and the texture was pleasing. The elongated design of the SOS Solar Sport affords larger cooking surfaces and double the pots of other cookers. The SOS Solar Sport excelled when using it as a “slow-cooker” where the cooking was low and slow and fit nicely with the Sport’s lower temperatures. The foods from this cooking method were cooked well and retained moisture.

Using the reflectors:
Attaching the reflectors takes a bit of dexterity and practice, but once attached, they focus the sun’s rays to the food inside the SOS Sport and should raise the temperature to cook foods better and faster as well as brown foods more effectively. The problem is that the manufacturer warns that the SOS Sport was not designed for using the reflectors and using them may result in warpage of the unit. In our testing this indeed did happen and the warpage was severe and one unit had to be returned for warpage.

From the SOS Solar Sport FAQ page:

12) When do I use reflectors?

In the early spring, late fall and winter or on partly cloudy days, the reflectors will increase solar gain and speed up cooking. Reflectors can raise the cooking temperature up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and will cook food faster.

Because we have chosen plastic for durability and weatherability (especially in developing countries) some warpage of the plastic can occur with the use of reflectors. We recommend you discontinue use of reflectors when the thermometer registers temperatures of 300 degrees F or higher.”

The inside cooking chamber plastic sheet corners do not meet, there are small open areas in the corners which allows spilled food to seep behind the inner sheets. This happened during field testing – twice. The unit was difficult to clean out (the food tested was chili) as it pooled behind the inner plastic sheets that cover the silver reflective insulation material. We contacted the manufacturer who stated this was a common occurrence because the inside corners left open areas, but the unit could be washed and air-dried. We were not able to remove all of the spilled liquid which seeped behind the plastic sheets even though we hosed it out several times and followed the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning spilled food. This was a serious flaw in our opinion.

Overall:
The SOS Solar Sport is an effective solar oven under certain conditions and with certain considerations, however, the concerns regarding design and material flaws and the problems encountered during field testing yielded a less than stellar product review score. For the price, the SOS Solar Sport is only recommended with warnings and we recommend readers read our side-by-side review of the SOS Solar Sport and the Global Sun Oven.

Conclusion:
The SOS Solar Sport is recommended only with warnings.

 

Solar Oven Society

1754 Terrace Drive
Roseville, MN 55113

Telephone:  612-623-4700
Fax: 612-623-3311

Email: sos@solarovens.org

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Vickilynn Haycraft is an independent Product Reviewer. She does not sell products or accept payment for reviews. The products reviewed are either purchased by Vickilynn Haycraft or provided for review and all reviews are unbiased regardless of how the item was obtained. Vickilynn Haycraft purchased the SOS Solar Sport at the market price for this testing and review.

About Vickilynn Haycraft

A student of health and nutrition for 30 years, Vickilynn Haycraft has over 25 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and now radio talk show host, as well as being full-time wife and mom to 5 children. Read Vickilynn's Product Reviews and Family Preparedness Articles at Examiner.com. She blogs at the Real Food Living Blog.