With longer days and warmer weather upon us, barbeques across Australia will get an increasing workout. Some will be powered by gas, others by wood or charcoal – and perhaps some by the sun.
Sausage sizzles using solar energy are usually performed using a parabolic dish that focus the sun’s rays onto a grill. Once confined to the backyards of tinkerers, solar BBQ’s are now starting to appear on the general market
An example is the Cookup Inox, a solar barbecue from France that reaches temperatures of 200C and offers enough grill space to cook for 5 people (as long as they aren’t too hungry judging by the size of the grill plate shown in the video).
Weighing 8 kilograms and made up of a stainless steel structure, PET reflector and ABS link components, it has a dish diameter of just over a metre. These aren’t a cheap item compared to the barbeques you’ll find at your local hardware or camping store though – the Cookup Inox will set you back around $400 plus delivery.
If you’re a handy sort of person, many solar/barbecue and cooker designs are inexpensive and reasonably easy to build. A range of free plans can be viewed here.
If you also have an entrepreneurial streak, there seems to be a gap in the market for solar grills in Australia. Most solar cookers on sale here are more geared to baking type applications where food is contained within a covered pot; rather than being suited to grilling the humble snag known and loved (or loathed) for its spattering qualities.
However, the Cookup Inox wouldn’t be totally immune to splattering fat either and perhaps a spatter guard placed over cookware with a drip tray placed in a box-type solar oven might just do the trick in order to achieve more of a grilled rather than baked effect
Box solar cookers are more readily available in Australia and a range can be viewed on Sun Cooking Australia, with prices starting at $290.
Sun Cooking Australia’s box cookers aren’t your average cardboard and tin-foil afternoon-project type affair. Their premium model, the Sun Cook ($490), is designed and built for long life using UV, heat and scratch resistant food-grade plastics that won’t off-gas, tempered glass and aluminium mirrors.