I've been toying with the idea of making another solar dehydrator, but recently another blogger (5acresandadream.com) held a free webinar on Sun Ovens. Hummmmm. So I attended. Conclusion -- I think the Sun Oven would work as a dehydrator although it wouldn't handle the volume that I was use to. The webinar offered a nice discount, so I took the bait and spent some money. I figured that if it turned out to be junkily made, I'd send it back. Well it turns out that I like the product. It's just a shame that I don't get reliable sun here, or I'd use it every day for cooking. That's something to look forward to during the next drought year.
My first sunny morning I gave the Sun Oven a test run. I'm harvesting mamaki leaves right now and need to dry them. After preparing the leaves, they were spaced on the dehydrator shelves. The oven door was closed but slightly propped open as directed.
Sun Oven was aligned to the sun.....
Here's another view....
The oven quickly heated up, and I mean QUICK. Yikes! Run and get something to hold the door open more. I ended up using a little toothpick jar.
Before the morning sun disappeared, the leaves were dry. Rather than realigning the oven's position every 30 minutes, I let it be. This kept the temperature lower so as not to burn the leaves.
All in all, this experiment worked out just fine. I figure I could dry 2-3 batches of leaves each morning, if I wanted. That's ok. And it turns out that the Sun Oven dries more leaves per day than my other solar dehydrator design. The only thing I need to still work out is getting the temperature control fine tuned.
Next, I plan to try drying other things -- fruits, veggies, macnuts. If this handles the macnuts, then it will be worth every penny I spent on it.