If making your own meals at the top of a mountain using only the power of the sun just seems too easy, then GoSun has a deal for you. With its new DIY kits, you can now construct your own solar oven as well.
GoSun builds fuel-free ovens that use a combination of parabolic reflectors and a cylindrical cooking chamber to cook food using only direct sunlight. The company makes a range of solar ovens from an ultra-portable version that weighs only two pounds ($139), to a higher-end solar + electric cooker ($399).
But all of those versions have actual designs with the components already built. With GoSun’s new DIY kit, which costs $119 or $149 depending on the size you buy, all you get is the chamber, a roll of reflector material and some cooking tins. Not only do you have to assemble it, but you have to come up with an oven design to base that assembly on.
That seems pricey, especially given the time it will take to design and build your own oven, but the cooking chambers are specific evacuated tube ovens, and not just something you’d grab at the Home Depot.
The idea of a DIY solar oven is in keeping with the ethos of a company that crowdfunds new products. But I reached out to GoSun Founder and CEO Patrick Sherwin to see if this was part of any larger initiative for the company. He emailed saying that this was “more of an experiment” and “our customers are frugal and DIY oriented. we are trying to serve more solutions to get more people tinkering with vacuum tube ovens.”
We’ve written before about how selling DIY kits could be a smart path for smaller startups. Companies can spend fewer resources on assembly, shipping parts is cheaper than shipping fully finished products, and customers are increasingly sophisticated about making things.
There are downsides however, as I’ve learned first hand. Companies need to make assembly instructions super clear, a lack of QA can lead to faulty parts being shipped, and any accompanying software in particular must be as bug-free as possible.
GoSun, however, is foregoing most of these issues by turning the entire process over to the customer. There are no instructions to follow and no software to install. Customers for the DIY kit will probably self-select, meaning that they’ll be fine with the lack of guidance, and will probably look forward to building their own oven and sharing designs with the GoSun community.
Of course, if GoSun’s DIY kit is too much work, people can always turn a Pringles can into a solar cooker.