The second most recognized challenge is the daily management of energy resources, primarily the backup, house batteries, power supply and its requirements. The generator must be started for even small tasks, such as blow drying hair, making toast, making a smoothie or ironing a shirt. It is especially required for operating the microwave or convection oven, and for periods of one to two hours for cooking a roast or turkey. The main challenge related to using an oven in an RV such as a motor home, is the residual heat generated in such a small space and can prove to be intolerable on a hot summer day, even with the use of a ceiling exhaust fan. Unless the RV is plugged into shore power, most on-board generators will not support the electrical demand of both an oven and air-conditioning.
Many cooks forgo baking bread, a cake, pie, brownies, cookies, or cornbread in the summer for that reason alone, and yet who would not want fresh baked goods in hot weather? Well, now you can, thanks to the power of the sun and the invention of the solar oven. A solar oven is obviously used outside, therefore eliminating the overheated motor home condition.
In our research we soon realized that, just like any appliance, there are good ones and some not so good. Our internet research of solar ovens soon brought us to a startling conclusion: this is not a well organized industry, much like the alternative energy resources in general. Our first clue was the dozens of websites and articles claiming to have free plans how to make your own solar oven from used CDs or pizza boxes and aluminum foil, and even a parabolic unit fashioned from a discarded satellite dish. However, we did find several makes of solar ovens available, with a wide range of physical and technological designs. One fact was quickly observed: there are as many exaggerated performance claims as there are solar oven designs. The most common error was the maximum temperature the ovens could achieve and maintain with some degree of consistency.
The ovens that caught my attention were the ones that seemed to fold up and slip into a back pack or small space in our already over-packed motor home. Unfortunately, the very feature that had attracted my interest in the first place became the very feature that, when the truth be known, became the deal -breaker. The fold-up design hindered that oven's ability to achieve the higher temperatures that the heavier, more substantially designed ovens could.
The box-type ovens with reflectors proved in cooking tests time after time to be the most efficient and consistent performers. Three of the top brand name solar ovens were tested on CBS 'Early Show' and the 'box-type' sun ovens were the only ones that would reach and maintain 350F. One box-type brand, claimed to easily reach 350F, yet on the Gaiam website blog, one customer from Utah and another from New Mexico complained they could not even boil water on a sunny day, with the New Mexico customer stating it was twenty days to the summer solstice. It pays to do your research. I scratched that one from my list of prospects.