SolSource Review Part I: Assembly


When we wrote our second book, Making It, I wanted to include a parabolic solar cooker project. I found a castoff satellite TV dish and covered it with aluminum foil. The problem was how to position a cooking surface in front of it while simultaneously tracking the sun. If you knew how to weld this might be possible– if still a challenging project. I just couldn’t figure out a way to do it without custom welding and gave up on my dream of solar grilling.

That fire, so to speak, has been reignited by the folks at One Earth Designs, who sent us their SolSource solar grill for testing, as part of our solar cooking initiative this summer. This device is different than a solar oven in that it does not function like a slow cooker, but as a high-heat grill. Arguments could be made that a well-outfitted solar kitchen needs both an oven and grill. More on that later!

We’re going to break our initial review of the SolSource into a couple of parts, starting with assembly.

But first, a few basic things so you know what you’re looking at. The SolSource is a parabolic mirror with a clever central cutout to allow easy access to the cooking surface. The sun’s rays are directed beneath a pot/frying pan support, so that all the cooking heat is focused on a single spot at the bottom of the cooking pot or pan.

A small mirror in the center of the assembly helps you keep the light focused in the correct place. You refocus the sunlight by rotating the whole assembly, which move easily on two separate axes.

I have assembled and disassembled the SolSource twice. I shot a time-lapse of the second assembly which I accomplished in 33 minutes. It would probably take a little longer the first time. The grill went together easily using the the provided Ikea-like pictographic instructions. The SolSource comes with two wrenches and no additional tools are needed.

If I wanted to take the SolSource on the road for a picnic or solar tailgate party I would probably not fully disassemble it. The disc and the grill assembly come apart easily into two parts and that’s how I would stash it into my chariot to go on the road.

Los Angeles’ usual June cloud cover has suddenly vanished and a record setting heat wave is set to arrive this weekend–perfect timing for testing the SolSource. (Though, honestly, this heat wave looks so nasty we might able to cook just by setting the food out on the patio!)

The SolSource retails for $499.00. It can be purchased at the One Earth Designs site (shipping is free) and also at Amazon.


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  1. I remember reading somewhere of an attempt to generate electricity using a similar principle. A huge array of computer controlled mirrors functioned as a virtual parabolic mirror, focusing the Sun’s rays on a water vessel, which flashed into steam, driving the generator turbines.

    The unfortunate thing about this was that birds who flew through the focus point were instantly incinerated, becoming flying charcoal briquets, making a terrible mess and not doing the birds any good at all.

  2. So you’re two and a half months in to the solar oven summer and maybe I’ve missed them, but I haven’t seen any recipe posts using the solar oven. I was really hoping for some posts on what you’re actually cooking and any tips/tricks/warnings/recommendations on using the solar oven. Will any of those be coming? I did appreciate the post on the waxed cloth food wraps, but I need some recipe help!

    • Recipes will happen, we promise. We had unseasonably cool and cloudy weather until just recently.

    • Yes, we should have considered our famous June Gloom (which also included May Gloom this year) before making our ambitious announcement. The weather pattern has been to be overcast until afternoon (mercifully, in my opinion, despite the cost to solar cooking) until this week. But now the sun is out with a burning vengeance and we’ll be really focusing on the solar cooking. I hope we can provide some solid advice for you–I know it’s hard to find out there. I need some myself! I think solar cooking really is an art, because conditions are so variable.

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