Solar is rapidly becoming the standard in renewable energy provision, thanks to the increasingly increasingly advanced technology behind it allowing for incrementally smaller and more efficient power arrays. Environmentally friendly gadgets are becoming more and more popular, and a whole range of solar-powered alternatives to traditional devices are making their way onto the market. Despite their obvious weaknesses (being difficult to charge on overcast days and occasionally being slightly cumbersome), many of these devices provide amazing, eco-friendly replacements for your current tech arsenal. Here are a few of the best (and coolest) to check out.
Waka Waka Light and Power
Developed by Off-Grid Solutions, the Waka Waka Light is one of the great success stories of solar technology. Its development, funded by crowd-sourcing, was undertaken to provide the developing world with a safe, affordable, and durable solar powered light source, and it performs its task amazingly well. It has a 16-hour battery life, but can be fully charged in as few as four – and it is not only waterproof, but virtually indestructible as well. It’s perfect both for outdoorsy types and for the environmentally conscious late night reader.
The same developer has also recently produced Waka Waka Power, a multi-purpose portable solar power station. It is as tough as its predecessor, and even more efficient, being able to fully charge a tablet or smartphone with only one day’s charge, while also providing up to 40 hours of excellent reading light. Available for preorder now for $79, its high price point is more than made up for by its utility and longevity. Investing in one will also see a donation of two units to aid humanitarian relief in Haiti.
Logitec’s Wireless solar keyboards and folios
Wireless keyboards are becoming a staple of modern design, but can represent a severe drain on funds (not to mention an environmental disaster) when disposable batteries are required. Mindful of this, Logitec have created the K750, an affordable, sustainable wireless keyboards powered by solar energy. At $59.99, this device is fully functional, and at full charge can operate for up to three months in total darkness. And for Mac users, and those of you who have upgraded to tablet or smartphone computing, the K760 ($69.99) provides the same functionality for the iPad and iPhone, while still being fully compatible with all Apple desktops. Logitech also brings us the Solar Keyboard Folio for iPad, a combination bluetooth keyboard and iPad folio, facilitating complete independence from conventional power sources for your tablet.
Tascam’s TC-1S, the solar powered instrument tuner
This may seem a little more niche than most items on this list, but is must have for any environmentally conscious gigging musician. This little beauty can hold charge for six hours of constant use, or up to seven years when on standby. Although calibrated for use with guitars, it can also be calibrated through an external source for much more difficult-to-tune instruments like pianos. For quick-charging capability, it also comes with a USB connector for speedy charging. This versatile device is available for at little as $25, and if you’re a serious player, could represent a major lifetime saving on batteries (not to mention tuning fees for any pianists in the audience).
The adoption of solar panels for home use has been increasing rapidly, and there are a number of less-permanent gadgets on hand to help bring your house into the solar age. Of these, the most entertaining is probably Husqvarna’s range of solar-hybrid lawn mowing robots, which not only make lawn maintenance (traditionally bearing a rather weighty environmental cost) more environmentally friendly, but also allow the use of the phrase “solar-hybrid lawn mowing robot” in everyday conversation. For more general use, a selection of compact, multi-purpose solar generators are also now commercially available, and are ideal, cost-effective devices for emergency use, and although the Hammacher Smelder generator may set you back by $2000, it can power multiple appliances for extended periods and may literally save your bacon in a tight spot (as it can keep a fridge running for two to four days from full charge.
Solar gadgets like this are here to stay, and are fast transforming from gimmicky distractions into essential life-enhancers. Although their high price-points may initially be off-putting, you should remember that most of them require absolutely no additional overhead cost, and can operate smoothly, without assistance, for years on end, making the initial investment more than worthwhile.