9 Solar Gadgets to Harness the Power of the Sun
Solar chargers offer clean, functional energy independence for off-grid situations. But most importantly, you can you contribute to a greener world by using renewable energy whenever possible. By generating your own power you are no longer a passive consumer, but an informed and increasingly self-reliant producer of your own green energy. Of course, not everybody can, or wants, to install stationary solar panels on roofs or car ports. That’s why we compiled a list of high-quality, portable solar gear for you to enjoy the benefits of the sun and reduce your carbon footprint. We have selected innovative, useful and accessible solar chargers for your daily life or travel. Sunny fall days are perfect for collecting eco-friendly solar power. So get out there with a solar charger!
For hikers and travelers a must: A sturdy backpack with a solar charger for emergency power.
There are countless models on the market, some with a built-in panel, some with hooks to attach a separate panel. Solar energy is stored in a powerbank, preferably detachable so you can charge your device out of the sun. Make sure you check the weight of the pack as some models are quite bulky. The latest models offer inductive wireless charging using qi technology such as the Sunnybag Iconic, recently on Kickstarter. SunnyBag Explorer features a detachable 6W solar panel. Available at SunnyBag.
Ready for a stylish and functional tablet-case? Goldfink Solar Planner is your all-in-one ipad cover, solar charger and planner for your busy life.
In the office, at school, on the road, this compact solar-powered hero helps you keep organized and your devices stay charged. Its compact size is perfect for you on the go when traveling or working remotely. A 9W solar panel charges your battery in ca. 4-5 hours and provides enough power to charge a tablet in a few hours. Hidden in the back of the leather binder is a powerful battery (8000mAh) to charge your smartphone, tablet, headphones or loudspeakers. 4 small LEDs indicate load levels. This mobile office contains a paper calendar, note paper, pen and plenty of room for your essential notes, tickets or cards. Its convenient ring mechanic holds your calendar, notes and a removable tablet shell. There is room for your utensils, pen and a slim keyboard. Your tablet and paper planner side by side: analog and digital work in one portable tool. Available in February at Goldfink
Solar office accessories make your life just a bit easier by charging their internal batteries without you having to remember it.
This sleek keyboard charges its internal battery by sun or desk lamp. A full charge lasts about 3 months according to Logitech. A Bluetooth dongle provides a wireless connection by plugging into the USB port at your computer. An indicator lamp on the keyboard informs you about the remaining load. So you can achieve that sleek, minimalist desk setup that makes you look highly organized and efficient. Find out more at Logitech
Solar Bike Lock
Ever thought about your bike lock working a bit harder for you? Sure, this lock secures your bicycle but it can do a lot more.
This bike lock communicates with your phone to alert you about possible theft or tempering, offers keyless unlocking and sharing of your bike within your group of friends. The small solar panel charges the built-in battery that powers its smart functions. Learn more at Lattis.
While you find plenty of stand-alone solar chargers on the market, the Soul Solar Scroll is a solar gadget on steroids.
Imagine a round tube that unrolls a thin, 19cm (7.5″) solar strip. It is lightweight (300g, 10.5oz) and flexible making it easy to position it for maximum sun exposure. Its 5W solar panel is equipped with next generation solar cells based on thin film technology utilizing Copper Indium Gallium Selenide instead of standard silicium based cells. It is supposed to charge its integrated 5200 mAh battery in only 4-6 hours even in overcast conditions. Like other chargers the device can be clipped to a backpack and its battery can be charged at any electric outlet making it a perfect emergency companion. Available currently on Soul Inventions.
Fond of camping in the wild or in your backyard?
Far away from any electric outlet to power your devices or just enjoying to be off-grid, you definitely need a solar charger to feel free and secure. These are some of the most useful and fun solar chargers and gadgets to spruce up your glamping experience:
Nothing is as cozy as a crackling campfire but this is not always an option when camping, picnicking or attending a festival. Solar ovens promise a solution by offering eco-friendly, no-fuel cooking for off-grid situations.
They typically do not feature silicium-based solar panels to generate energy. We include them in this list because they They are constructed with cleverly placed mirrored surfaces with high specular reflectivity that concentrate light from the sun on to a small cooking area and achieve temperatures suitable for slow cooking or for boiling water. But be patient when using a solar oven: Cooking times are 2-3 times longer than with conventional stoves and you won’t be able to get that smoky flavor that you get from a campfire. Parabolic ovens focus light as well, but that light arrives at a single focal point where heating occurs. The dark interior and the dark pots are placed at the center and retain heat. The mirror-like surface finish of the reflector collects enough heat for a variety of cooking, baking and water boiling needs. The Solavore oven comes with a oven thermometer and a water pasteurization indicator.
We like the light-weight vacuum tube cooker from GoSun. You place your food inside a long tube that is made of double-sided glass with a vacuum in between. The inside of the tube is lined with heat conducting materials that allow temperatures up to 280C or 550F.
Two well-known portable solar lamps on the market promote a social agenda by supporting poorly-electrified rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Most well-publicized is Little Sun, a charming solar lamp (0.5W) in the shape of a flower designed by artist Olafur Eliasson.
Its grown-up successor the Little Sun Diamond lamp(0.5W) features a 300mAh battery to provide sufficient reading or working light for a few hours.
Another socially aware project Sonnenglas, Solar Glass, is produced in South Africa. It features a traditional glas mason jar with a solar panel integrated in its lid to power 4 LEDs.
The development of solar textiles will revolutionize any outdoor experience. Today’s solar tents offer add-on solar chargers to provide light and power for your devices.
In the near future we will see technical textiles coated with a film of solar cells. Tents made of these fabrics will be ideal for temporary shelter whether recreational tents or emergency housing. Today’s solar tents offer stand-alone flat panels to be placed on the ground or attached to the sides or the roof of the tent. This is easy as most flat solar panels are equipped with some sort of hook or latch. This allows the panels to be positioned facing the sun without moving the tent. Cinch!, a pop up tent offers a beautifully integrated solar charger. The tent can be equipped with an external solar panel offering 21 Watt and a 13.000mAh powerbank. The panels slide into a horizontal pocket with a transparent top above either entrance to the tent. Connecting cables feed into the tent where a device can be charged.
Despite years of development solar power is rarely incorporated into viable consumer products. By virtue of its construction solar cells are still mounted on a support surface which is hard, mostly inflexible, heavy and therefore its use and function restricted to very specific environments. Today’s commercially available and affordable solar cells require a minimum of space to provide requisite power output. So to charge the most common devices such as a phone a solar charger requires a size of a 8W which is about a panel of 25 x 15cm. This makes it challenging to integrate solar power into small devices such as a lamp or a phone case.
Functional products include stand-alone flat solar panels to carry around or attach to various objects such as bags, tents, bicycles. Notable differences are solar lamps, backpacks or the Solar Planner which incorporate a solar panel in its design making it an integral part of the product.
What are your favorite solar chargers? We would love to hear from you!