If your question can’t find an answer here, please contact us and we’ll be happy to answer you: info [at] solafire.io We speak English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
How long does a Lytefire last?
It’s easy to fix and maintain if needed or if a part is accidentally broken. If properly built and painted, the Lytefire will last between 16 and 19 years. Since it’s all stainless steel, it is solid and adapted to daily usage. It’s also easy to clean: only water and soap to clean the mirrors from time to time.
Do I always need a full sun to use my Lytefire?
Yes and no :) Yes because you need a clear sky but it doesn’t have to be warm for you to use the Lytefire. In Normandy, France, Arnaud bakes in winter with -4°C (24°F) using Lytefire 11 Deluxe and we’ve been testing solar cooking in Finland with -2°C (28°F) with Lytefire 4 Cooker.
How long does it take to build your Lytefire?
Build times differ greatly based on available tool set, workshop permanence, fabricator experience and the kind of music you’re listening to.
The following estimates are based on 1) having the basic tool set, the three jigs, as well as grinder, drill press, vice grips, C-clamps and metal chop saw, 2) 1 competent fabricator and a dedicated workspace, and 3) all material onsite.
For a Lytefire 4, a setback-free build can take 32 hours. 40 hours is a reasonable guess for an experienced builder. For a Lytefire 5, 10 to 12 days is reasonable.
You can seriously decrease that amount of time by putting on some good music and inviting enthusiast friends.
What material do I need to build my Lytefire and where do I get them?
A variety of materials are required for the build. We attempt to describe where to purchase the requisite materials.
Steel: all structural steel profiles for the Lytefire should be available from most steel retailers. The stainless steel for the oven might be more difficult to find, but most sheet metal retailers or distributors should be able to help.
All fasteners (screws, nuts, bolts, rivets) should be available at any big hardware store.
Mineral wool or glass wool insulation should be available at most large building centers.
2 or 3 mm mirrors are available at many custom glass workshops. Cheap mirror is available at recycled home works stores (for example, Habitat for Humanity ReStore in North America). Also, Walmart has 4 foot by 1 foot bedroom mirrors for $7.99CAD that are 2mm thick mirror and yield 4 mirrors each, compared to $5CAD per mirror cut by local Toronto glass shop)
Most of the bits and pieces (for example, wheels, latches, hinges, drill bits, cutting disks, etc) are available at big hardware stores like Home Depot.
Every single thing is listed and detailed in the Lytefire 4 and Lytefire 5 construction manuals.
What budget should I plan for the material?
We cannot recommend any retailer nor give indication of price because it varies so much from one place to the other.
That being said, in France, all the material for a Lytefire 5 with oven is between 3 000€ and 4 000€ max. In the case of Kenya, prices for the materials for Lytefire 5 can be as low as 1 354€.
For Lytefire 4 the costs are much lower as it requires less materials. In Canada the materials for Lytefire 4 are around 800€, in Kenya around 400€.
What level of welding should I have to build my Lytefire 5 with oven?
A professional welding level is needed and if you’re not there yet, you can simply learn. It’s not very hard but it has to be well done.
What is the risk of fire?
It works exactely as with a a barbecue or an open fire: you don’t let unattended, right? So someone should stay close to the Lytefire when it’s in use. To concentrate the energy inside the oven, the mirrors can be rotated all at once every 10-15 min to follow the sun. Once you are no longer using the Lytefire, you can simply tilt the mirrors down and they no longer reflect the sun, so there is no longer any risk.
Can I use the Lytefire when it rains or when it’s cloudy?
You need a clear blue sky for the Lytefire to work. If it’s a fresh spring day, a hot summer morning or a sunny winter afternoon, the Lytefire’s can be used whenever there is direct sunshine. Diffuse radiation does not work and in cloudy weather, there is no direct radiation. If you’re not sure you can check your region here: https://globalsolaratlas.info/map
Remember that NeoLoco’s solar bakery is in Normandy, North France. Arnaud runs the oven a few days per month to bake and roast 10 months per year. This allows him to generate a steady revenue.
Does Lytefire work when it’s cold?
The cold does not prevent Lytefire to work at all.Lytefire has already operated at negative temperatures in Switzerland and Finland! All it takes is clear skies. The temperature doesn’t matter.
What about the wind?
For the wind, it is possible to use the Lytefire in moderate winds but we advise to limit its use from 60km/h of wind. Beyond that, we recommend placing your mirrors in a safe position, facing the ground.
Are mirrors easy to find and replace?
2mm and 3mm mirrors are easy to find in almost any middle-size town. We recommend 2mm.
No matter if you build it yourself or if you purchase it, you’ll learn from us how to replace the mirrors (with tutorial, at distance guidance, or direct on-site explanation). No worries, you’ll break 3 or 4 but after that, you’ll see it’s easy.
Acrylic plastic mirror could work and it could be cheaper and lighter than glass! Other Fresnel lens (not plastic) could maybe work, creating very high temperature that are not needed for food processing.
Is there a risk for the users?
– It is recommended to use sun glasses every time you cook or bake, that’s for sure!
– As for any stove or fire, you do not leave the device unattended.
– To test the Lytefire and check if it’s well focused, you will place a wooden stick on the focal point. It will burn well, probably with flames and you will suddenly see the “solar fire”. This will allow all the users, friends and family to see that people must be aware of that power.
– Sometimes, people also put a fence around the Lytefire, mostly to prevent chicken to get nervous with their reflections.
Is there a risk for the animals and the environment?
Apart from some roasters getting nervous when seeing themselves in the mirrors and attacking their reflections, we have no report of animals being endangered by Lytefire.
The reason is that when not in use, all the mirrors are facing the ground and the risk, with no sun on it. During usage, the solar rays are all targeting the focal point, where you cook.
As for any stove or fire, you do not leave the device unattended.
Is there a risk for kids playing around?
As for any stove or open fire, you do not leave the device unattended. If you show the burning stick to your kids, they will get that they are not supposed to play around.
Is this new?
Concentrating the sun rays to convert them into heat isn’t new at all and you can do it with a magnifying glass, we know. What’s new with Lytefire is our applications and our design’s that is meant to bring direct solar heat to entrepreneurs to power their activity with free energy. The idea is to get people to adopt Lytefire smoothly everywhere it’s needed while making their living with it. The idea is to participate to a transition.
Why are there so little solar thermal systems in the world?
Like everything in this life, it’s a choice. At the time of the industrial revolution, decision makers decided to go with fossil fuels and then electricity, which shaped the world as we know it: constant energy availability, speed, and collateral damages. When some awareness happens, solar energy starts to be converted into electricity with photovoltaic panels coming from far away. Turns out that most of our energy needs are in direct heat, meaning that we do not absolutely need electricity for everything, especially food transformation.And this is true eveywhere the sun shines. The time for more solar thermal energy is now.
Is Lytefire different from any other solar cookers and oven?
Our focus is on collective uses and entrepreneurship. You can find the huge solar concentrator in Font Romeu in France, solar plants in Spain and individual solar cookers and boxes reaching 400 Watts with relatively cheap price and even free plans. All this is great for sure and we encourage you to explore different options! Our mission is to spread widely a powerful tool delivering 2000 Watts and more. Lytefire can serve professional and semi-professional baking and cooking users, it can be installed in canteens, hotels, festivals, campings, it creates sustainable jobs in the Global South and it also inspires pioneers entrepreneurs in countries where the grid is good and the electricity is cheap.
Why is solar cooking, baking and roasting good for you and for the planet?
It doesn’t pollute when you use it.
It gives you access to a free and unlimited energy (reduced energy bills!).
It creates no smoke and no dark particles damaging your health and the air.
Any meal can be cooked or baked with the same flavor.
It fights deforestation.
Read more about our impact here.