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There’s plenty of sun to go around for everyone. New inventions now let you drive cars, power homes and charge a range of gadgets using natural energy.

The SUNplace is the latest cooking appliance that can help you harness UV rays. Designed by Francesca Lanzavecchia and Hunn Wai, the outdoor grill displays a giant lens that directs sunlight on a thick pan. As a kid growing up, if you’ve ever tried to fry a trail of ants with a magnifying glass, it’s basically the same concept.

SUNplace solar table display

Does It Really Work?

The early design for the solar grilling unit leaves a lot of questions unanswered. There’s no doubt the sun can produce the necessary heat to effectively kill bacteria lurking in meats and vegetables. But can the SUNplace do it without turning the whole table into lava?

Seeing this as a potential roadblock, individuals sitting around the table are required to suit up, from whole body aprons to goggles. Controlling the heat doesn’t seem to be possible just yet, which means everyone nearby will be dripping in sweat from the endless layers of protective covering and the scorching hot grill.

Despite the quirky layout, the cooking apparatus is a great piece that can turn a boring backyard into a medieval free-for-all.

According to the designers, the SUNplace aims to provide a memorable cooking experience while strengthening relationships:

“The station requires the full involvement of all its users, well-equipped and protected by gloves and special glasses; this team-work will also promote interpersonal relationships with conviviality. Historically the hearth was the center of the tribe and family; Sunplace wants to recover the ritual of the banquet as a shared moment.”

GoSun solar stove

The Alternative: GoSun Solar Stove

If you’re not into huddling over a solar table grill and would like a more automated approach to natural cooking, the GoSun is what you need. The slim unit is composed of a long tube and a reflector stand. The cylinder stores the raw food, while the panels push intense UV rays on the device. Everything you cook using the unit will need to be cut to a workable size (no whole chicken roasts or lamb legs). The official website indicates that a whole meal can be cooked in 20 minutes under optimal, full sun conditions. For banquet-sized servings, the GoSun Station model makes use of four giant cylinders on a panel.

The solar machine can reach blistering temperatures up to 550 degrees (Fahrenheit). Working with high-level heat allows you to choose from a myriad of cooking options, such as steam, bake, fry, roast and boil. Individuals living in areas prone to cloudy weather should still be able to cook a decent meal.

Without the need for constant readjustment, the GoSun is ideal for camping and outdoor events. When it’s not being used, the panels fold down to minimize the exposed surface. Simply place it in a padded bag and you’re good to go. All of the main components are made out of stainless steel, making clean up a breeze.

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