Kaylee's not-a-blog » Food » Crockpot » Overview


My first summer, I realized I wasn't stressing my solar system (i.e. had plenty of excess capacity), so thought about & researched what I could add that would help save money and improve my lifestyle.

Something to warm food seemed like the optimal device, ideally something that could heat canned food in the can (to minimize cleanup) and heat defrosted precooked microwave meals, including, of course, HotPockets. :)

First, I considered a "Roadpro" native DC electricity food warmer.
The reviews on Amazon were mixed, with many reports of quality issues.
Several recommended a regular crockpot (which would require a DC to AC "inverter"), since they're generally far more reliable.
Crockpots are often discarded, so readily available in thrift shops, even in remote areas.
I found reasonably credible online reports that one could bake in a crockpot, which was the final piece of data that made me decide to look for one. :)

Ended up buying a small low end crockpot at a thrift shop for $2.
I had already bought a low end (150 watt) inverter, so I was all ready to go!

My plan was that I would only use it on sunny days during peak sunshine, for about 1-6 hours maximum, which (if done with due diligence) should not add any strain to my system (200 watts of solar panels), and would let me use some of my excess capacity, instead of it being discarded.
That would save me some money on butane fuel, and give me some more food options, including, I hoped, pizza. :)

Power Usage:

My first step was to measure its actual power usage (most devices use less than the amount printed on them), with a kill-a-watt meter (borrowed from a local Library).
I confirmed it drew about 60 watts:

I measured it for a full hour, and it ranged between 59 and 61 watts. :)
Note that since it is run thru an inverter to convert from DC to AC, there is some additional power loss (about 10% to 20%).

Hindsight & Advice for Others:

I should have borrowed the electricity meter first, then taken it with me into thrift shops and measured candidates before buying, to be sure how much power each used.
I should also have measured the size of the canned food items that I had originally intended to use the crockpot to heat.

In my case, I only found one small crockpot, with the rest being VERY large, so this was the best choice for me, and I'm very satisfied with my purchase. You may have many more options, hence my tips. :)

Early Experiments:

Note that I had never used a crockpot before, so I started very gradually, then jumped into the deep end with pizza. :)
Here are most of my first experiences:


Small low end Crockpots are an excellent option for van dwellers. :)

Mine is too small for one of my main original intended uses (canned meals like Chef Boyardee), however it vastly exceeded my expectations when it came to baking. :)
I have not yet "perfected" pizza, however it's always been at least "adequate".
The biggest "win" has been Bread, which has been a delight, both easy and very satisfying to make and eat. :)

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Last update: 2020-Feb-20