Blog of Lorin Symington

Solar Breakfast at Surface in Hamilton, Canada

Posted Friday 4 September 2015 by Lorin Symington.

I’ve just completed another Sol4 model based on the most recent early-adopter construction plans here at Surface Design Space in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It so happened that it was the birthday of local musician Mary Simon - what better occasion to inaugurate our solar concentrator? First-timer Marjonneke Grech immediately took to the Sol4 stove and made delicious, yummy pancakes for all of us.

It was a beautiful day for a pancake. No trees were harmed in the making of this delicious breakfast.

Surface Design Space is a grassroots social enterprise, an ecological research and development facility and an institute of creative learning. Founded by Harry White, longtime Burlington, Ontario resident, Surface is a community of builders, artists, activists, craftsmen, entrepreneurs, farmers, mad scientists and others come together to create projects and engage in activities that foster sustainability, creativity, knowledge transfer, profitability and fun. Their mission is to create economic values, social values and protect the environment while having a great time.

A great time was had indeed, as you can see in the video: Using the Sol4 solar concentrator for the first time to make pancakes, with Sarah Beatty, strumming the guitar.

Together with the members of the Surface community I built this Sol4 based on the latest construction guide that is already available to our early-adopters. With a growing number of early adopters around the world we are setting the stage for builders, users and solar entrepreneurs to co-develop solar concentrators, co-promote each other, and to share their experience while making the tech increasingly more visible and accessible. The people here at Surface are really excited to be part of this and want to contribute all sorts of interesting and exciting customizations, which I will be honoured to document and present to you all.

Surface founder Harry White on bass, Bob Kirckpatrick on Drums, Stephen Shelton on lead guitar.
One happy customer.
All sorts of projects are possible at Surface Design Space.

Solar Popcorn and Greens at GrowNYC

Posted Tuesday 18 August 2015 by Lorin Symington.

Earlier this year we built a Sol4 solar concentrator at SI Makerspace and installed it at the Teaching Garden of GrowNYC. Shawn Connell, staff member at GrowNYC, runs workshops teaching youth about the green economy, sustainable gardening and... solar concentration! These are his words:

The solar cooker is having a great summer out here on Governors Island! Today we had a class of high-school students visiting the island to learn more about green job opportunities and we were able to do a long session on solar - including lots of time using the cooker. We made popcorn as a snack this morning, (look how hot the cooker got at 9am). Then this afternoon the students used it to make a stir-fry using ingredients from the garden (collard greens, garlic, onions, eggplants, and herbs).

Shawn Connell, Staff at GrowNYC.

Lunch from the garden: Stir-fry with fresh collard greens, garlic, onions, eggplants, and herbs.
528° Farenheit (275.5°C) at 9am in the morning.
High school students having their first solar stir-fry
Growing, cooking and eating at GrowNYC's Teaching Garden

Mackenson’s Solar Pizza

Posted Tuesday 9 June 2015 by Lorin Symington.

Mackenson, the first technician in Haiti is back on the blog with a message to all our viewers and potential supporters: "Ansanm, ansanm nap rive pi lwen".

When I asked Mackenson if we should make pizza his eyes lit up. He rarely gets the chance to eat pizza, since running a traditional pizza oven costs so much in fuel that only fancy uptown restaurants seem to operate them.

Could a solar powered pizzeria operate profitably in his neighborhood? There’s only one way to find out: with your support on the FreeTheSun campaign and enthusiastic entrepreneurs like Mackenson.

Watch the video and hear Mackenson talk about the importance of technology for him, his family and for Haiti.

Baking Cake in Haiti

Posted Thursday 14 May 2015 by Lorin Symington.

We met Fabienne Dorlean through Robillard Louino, a young leader from Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She’s a graduate from a hotelery program and a very capable young baker. She is really excited about solar baking, and says that gas-fired baking ovens are expensive to buy and expensive to operate.

GrowNYC Goes Solar

Posted Thursday 23 April 2015 by Lorin Symington.

We’re so happy to introduce our new partner GrowNYC, a non-profit which improves New York City’s quality of life through environmental programs like the Governors Island Teaching Garden.

Plant, harvest and cook food while learning about sustainable practices. What a perfect home for one of’s 4sqM solar concentrators!

The Teaching Garden is an urban agriculture project where students The cooker is looking and working beautifully! On Wednesday we had a spectacularly clear day and so we used it with a group of students to saute beans from the garden. We put the beans, oil and spices in a frying pan and placed it on the cooker and then I had two students help use the lever to move the mirrors into place. Within a few seconds of aligning the mirrors, the beans started to sizzle. I wish you could have heard the gasps that the students all made when this process happened so quickly. Their minds we blown! It left into a wonderful discussion about the potential of harnessing the sun’s energy. 

Shawn with GrowNYC

Everyone at is excited to see what the students and GrowNYC cook up next!

Update: Another off-grid meal prepared by students at GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden. Every week, students from around NYC take field trips to the Teaching Garden and every week they are blown away by the power of the sun! — at Governors Island.

Baking Experiments in Haiti

Posted Friday 20 March 2015 by Lorin Symington.

Here, our budding entrepreneurs Mackenson and Island are preparing more treats in the 3m2 solar oven on the roof of Haiti Communitere, in Port-au-Prince Haiti.

Everyone is really excited to create a business selling healthy food and earning extra $ by saving on fuel.

In the pictures below they’re cooking a popular street food Pate Ayisyen (Haitian Patties).

Mackenson Has Seen the Future, the Future is GoSol!

Posted Wednesday 25 February 2015 by Lorin Symington.

Meet Mackenson, the first technician in Haiti and a dear friend of mine. He’s a good man with a kind heart who has lived a difficult life. He dreams of a better future for his children, and for his country. Mackenson is skilled and inspiring like so many potential entrepreneurs all over the world. We are working with him to create a sustainable, solar based business that he can operate himself.

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