From smartphones and e-readers to laptops and tablet computers, today’s high-tech devices put a wealth of information and utility at our fingertips – however it can be a real challenge to keep these power-hungry gadgets charged while you’re on the go. Fortunately, solar technology has kept step with the pace of consumer tech and there’s a great set of devices out there that will keep your gadgets charged with clean, green energy anywhere the sun shines. From solar iPhone cases and energy-generating photovoltaic trees to hi-fi audio systems powered by the sun, read on for 10 solar gadgets to charge your life!
A flashlight is an essential bit of kit to have on hand for everything from tending the BBQ to going camping or providing a critical source of light in an emergency. Whereas most flashlights rely on clunky disposable batteries that can lose their charge when you need them most, the BoGoLight features 9 powerful, energy-efficient LEDs and an integrated solar panel that can charge them anywhere the sun shines. Best of all, the BoGoLight is offered under a “buy one, give one” sales model – so for every product you buy they will donate a flashlight to a charitable organization that helps people in need.
Smartphones are amazing gadgets that put an incredible set of tools at your fingertips – however their large screens and sophisticated components tend to put a serious drain on battery life. Enter Eton’s brand new Mobius solar charging case, which straps a streamlined set of solar panels to the back of your iPhone 4. An hour of charging in the sun nets 25 minutes of talk time, and the included 1800 mAh lithium-ion battery pack adds an additional 5 hours of talk time when it’s fully charged.
Solar bags offer a great way to keep cell phones, cameras, and mp3 players charged while you’re on the go, however they have one glaring fault – you’re limited to using one satchel for all of your gadget charging and carrying needs. Enter the Voltaic Fuse – a modular charging solution that combines a waterproof 4 Watt photovoltaic panel with a set of straps that can easily be attached to virtually any surface – from backpacks and purses to bike racks and tents.
French designer Vivien Muller recently announced pre-orders for her beautifully designed Electree solar charger, which takes the form of a bonsai tree bristling with photovoltaic panels. Perfect for charging all of your favorite gadgets, this solar charger features 27 leaves that double as mini solar panels. The design artfully conceals both the USB connector and A/C outlet, keeping the tree’s clean aesthetic intact.
Wireless keyboards offer a great way to detach from your desk while computing, however it’s a pain to keep them constantly charged. Logitech’s solar-powered keyboard is a stroke of design brilliance that wraps a svelte 1/3-inch-thick enclosure with two sets of solar panels that harness electricity from indoor and outdoor light to significantly extend the peripheral’s battery life. The keyboard is completely PVC-free, connects via 2.4 GHz wireless, and can last for 3 months on a full charge.
Sunflower‘s Sundolier robot is a powerful sunlight transport system that pumps natural light indoors and is capable of completely eliminating the need for artificial lighting during the day. Each unit tracks the sun and uses two giant reflectors to concentrate sunlight indoors via a two-foot tube that ends in a “sun chandelier”. A single unit can produce 40-50 foot candles in a 1,000 square foot room.
Today’s E-readers promise to put an entire library’s worth of information in the palm of your hand (without sending trees to the paper mill), however despite their low-energy displays and impressive battery life, they’re still prone to conking out before you finish the last page of your next novel. Fortunately, Toshiba has unveiled the Biblio Leaf – a next-gen E-reader with enough battery juice to power through 7,500 pages – and a photovoltaic solar panel to keep it alive for many more.
Etón’s new Soulra system is more than just your everyday eco-speaker. Not only does this solar-powered audio set include a docking station for your iPhone or iPod – it also protects those valuable little gadgets by enclosing them inside a splash-proof enclosure that is perfect for the kitchen or the poolside!
The Solarball is a brilliant solar water purifier that can produce three quarts of clean drinking water each day – simply fill it up and set it out in the sun! As the sun heats up the dirty water, it evaporates and passes through a membrane to produce clean and drinkable condensation. The design by Jon Liow was a finalist in the 2011 Dyson Awards.
Sunlight can do much more than power your gadgets and light your home – it can cook your meals too! We’ve seen our share of solar cookers out there, but the Global Sun Oven earns top marks for its durability and powerful heating system. The device uses a set of rust-proof, highly polished aluminum reflectors to focus sunlight upon food, cooking at temperatures between 360-400 degrees Fahrenheit.