Have you ever thought of a good invention? Had one of those ‘Eureaka’ moments thinking that the world really needs a gadget and how come no one has invented it before? Well I think the reason is that actually turning an idea into a tangible product is a huge effort!
This week we celebrate the final release of the SunRocket solar kettle. It’s a very neat way to heat water from sunlight, and is super portable and efficient. The SunRocket uses a Vycor vacuum tube boosted by highly reflective panels to heat water or cook foods. It holds about 500ml (17oz) and weighs just 1kg (2.2lbs) when empty. Weather depending, it takes around 1 hour to heat water for drinking, washing or cooking. Rolling boil can be achieved in under 2 hours! The SunRocket folds into a very robust and portable ‘thermos’ and can keep the contents hot for hours.
The SunRocket is also a useful part of any emergency preparation kit – not only can it heat water for drinking but it can also kill water borne bacteria through heat treatment, be used to rehydrate freeze dried food and even to melt snow! Watch a video of the SunRocket in the Australian snowy mountains!
When we first decided we wanted to start making these ourselves, we got out some pens and papers and started drawing ideas – those ideas soon had to be translated into CAD (computer) drawings and then spent weeks trying to make the drawings ‘work’. Then it was time to start getting Australian and US patents done, which is super time consuming!
For getting it actually made, we first looked within Australia. But soon found that instead of an RRP of $59.50 it would end up having an RRP of around $590! So we headed off to China to see if I could find a better set up there. After months of searching, we found a factory that was environmentally minded, had really good ethical working conditions and could make our product for us. So we drew up legal documents and started making moulds and then prototypes.
Prototyping was a very slow and expensive process! Every time we had a new prototype come out, something would be not quite right. So we’d have to change the mould and remake. Then we wanted to do intensive safety testing, so there was lots of putting our prototypes into stressful situations like dropping them out of 2nd story windows, putting them in the freezer, setting them up on a 42oC day, posting them via Australia Post (not known for being gentle!)
12 months on, The SunRocket solar kettle is now perfect. The recycled cardboard packaging looks amazing, it’s got bar codes and QR codes and all these things I’d never even heard of but it’s done! I hate to add up what we spent getting it made, the budget was blown before we even got half way through the process and it continues to amaze me how unexpected expenses can occur! Like the time I accidentally shipped a whole lot of Amazon customers a whole carton of 20 rather than a single unit!
But I’m so pleased that finally, we have them for sale in both Australia and the US and resellers from other countries getting on board every day. They have been popular for camping, travel and home energy saving, but also disaster preparation and makes a perfect gift for that hard to buy for person!
If you want to marvel at how one person’s idea went from a sketch on a napkin to a finished product, you can buy one from US / Canada from www.SuncookingUS.com or for the rest of the world from www.SunCooking.com.au