xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' ECO HERC oven review ~ The Prepared Guy

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ECO HERC oven review

Like I said in one of my previous product reviews, I don't just review any old product that comes my way. It either has to be exceptional, it must really surprise me or on the other end of the spectrum be so bad as to prompt me to warn my fellow preppers and outdoors-men/women.

This one both really surprised me and is exceptional.  My first thought when I saw the oven at the SLC PrepperCon expo was that it was gimmicky because it only uses tea light candles.  I couldn't imagine that such a small source of heat would work so well as to bake whatever fits in the oven.  In short, it really works!

To cover the basics; the Eco HERC (Home Emergency Radiant Cooking) is made of stainless steel and assembles easily.  It nests and stacks together and is quite stable.  It uses ten tiny tea lights to provide the heat needed to get the oven hot enough to bake most anything.  Titan Ready USA also makes a larger version called the HERC that can bake larger items but I find this smaller version to be quite versatile.  In a situation where you will need to use this oven, conserving energy will also be important.  I have not tested the larger HERC oven but it uses twice the amount of candles and thus I can only suppose that it can achieve higher temps.

I used three different methods to measure temperatures inside and outside of the Eco HERC oven.  Infrared, a meat thermometer and a freestanding thermometer which was placed inside the oven.  The temps measured with the infrared thermometer were all over the scale.  I assume that this was because of the shiny reflective stainless steel which made the readings inconsistent.  The highest temperature that I was able to measure was taken at the underside of the oven directly above the flames at the baking stone which was upwards of 350F.  Inside the oven it achieved a constant temperature of approximately 275F and the meatloaf I baked easily reached 190F in less than an hour.  The accuracy of each of these methods could easily be questioned but they were good enough for me to get a picture of how well the oven works.  The outside temperature of the lid of the oven reached upwards of 200F so needless to say, do not touch!  The feet of the oven got warm but were in no way too hot to touch.  The temperature directly under the bank of candles was around 150F.  Not too hot for most countertops but too hot for some and definitely something to consider when determining where you'll be using your oven.

The Eco HERC can be used indoors because it uses simple candles.  However, I will not recommend using it indoors, at least not until you learn how to use it properly.  Candles put off smoke which can collect on your ceiling.  Putting 10 candles together can create quite a bit of smoke.

My biggest concern with the oven is the possibility of flare ups.  When the candles are under the oven the wax liquefies and the liquid wax can catch on fire creating quite a bit of smoke and fire.  The instruction provided with the oven say to trim the candle wicks to 1/4" so as to minimize to possibility of flare ups.  I followed this recommendation but still experienced flare ups.  The oven comes with a stainless steel plate to place over the candles when this happens, not if, when.

I used my new oven for the first time in my garage, which was a good thing.  I preheated the oven for about 30 minutes, placed the meatloaf in and after a while left it alone for about 10 minutes.  When I came back smoke was billowing out of the oven.  The wax had caught fire and was filling my garage with smoke.  After extinguishing the fire I noticed that some of the wicks appeared to be longer than 1/4". So I trimmed a few of the wicks and lit them again and placed the candles back under the oven.  This time I did not leave the oven alone.  About 15 minutes later some of the wax started to ignite again.  I once again extinguished the candles with the metal place, trimmed a few more wicks and lit them again.  It seemed that I had finally gotten the wicks cut to the right height.  Another 20 minutes or so passed and my meal was done.

Although this flare up problem was a bit annoying to deal with at first as soon as the meatloaf was up to temperature I realized that the oven had worked awesomely well.  The Eco HERC is not something that you can set and forget.  It requires some attention and a little learning.  To be able to cook a meal indoors with candles and a little bit of attention is actually quite impressive.  I know that we are all spoiled by our modern day appliances that help to make life so easy.  Now imagine living without them.  Then think about how valuable this little oven would be if you had no electricity or natural gas.  The minor inconvenience of dealing with candles flaring up, and trimming wicks in order to cook a meal, is hardly worth mentioning after your nicely baked meal satisfies your hungry families needs.

The one part that I was most skeptical about is now my favorite benefit of this oven.  That is the fuel itself.  I would not have imagined that tiny tea light candles would provide sufficient heat to bake with.  Tea candles are inexpensive, safe to store and will store for many years and still work as they are meant to.  There are not many fuels that you say that about.          

Keep in mind that the oven will not work properly if it is subject to any kind of breeze which will keep heat from entering the oven.  You'll need some kind of a shield to protect it from wind if you are using it outdoors.

In order to be adequately prepared in an emergency you should have multiples and backups of everything that is important to you.  This should include providing for different methods of cooking and heating.  Other cooking and heating methods you should consider include: propane stoves, outdoor BBQs, charcoal briquettes and dutch ovens, wood and wood burning stove, kerosene heaters and stoves with a safer kerosene alternative fuel, butane camp stoves AND the Eco HERC oven with a good quantity of tea lights.

Check out the PrepperCon TV and The Prepared Guy YouTube channels for my video review of the Eco HERC oven as well as other products I highly recommend.  You can also follow me @thepreparedguy on Twitter and Prepared Guy on Facebook.



Great review! Do you think a sterno type fuel would work with this oven? A bit more expensive, but then you wouldn't have to worry about trimming wicks and wax lighting on fire. Also, any reason why you couldn't use this as a space heater in an emergency by just opening the oven door?

Jill, I had thought about using other types of fuel like sterno as well. I suppose it could work. I'll have to give it a try just out of curiosity, but I suppose that it wouldn't work as well as the candles. I also assume that Titan Ready USA has already tried it and found that candles work best. It would most definitely work to add heat to a living space. As long as you were cooking at the same time it would make sense. It probably wouldn't matter whether the oven door was open or not. Take a look at my YouTube review and keep watching the PrepperConTV channel for more reviews and good stuff. Thanks! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIFlbGoa65M

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The purpose of this site is to provide you with information about what I have learned, my experience, and what my motivations are as a Prepared Guy. I have always felt driven to be ready for any situation by something powerful deep inside me. Being prepared has always served me well. I feel compelled to help others do the same.
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