Solar power doesn’t get more plug-and-play than the IllumiCharger, a wall-mounted charger that soaks up ambient light within your home to provide grid-free energy for any USB gadget. Designed by Greenwaves, the conceptual gizmo features a shell made from recycled and corn-based plastic, waste-free packaging, and is one of 18 finalists in this year’s Greener Gadgets Design Competition.

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USB is on the rise as a ubiquitous charging connection for everything from iPhones to cameras to computer peripherals, so we certainly appreciate the Illumicharger‘s concept. As more and more devices come standard with USB ports we’re able to eliminate bulky wall warts that are destined for the e-waste pile, and It would be incredibly handy to have a set of ports available in any given room.

However we remain skeptical about the device’s efficiency – those would have to be some pretty potent photovoltaics to generate a significant amount of energy from indoor light (ambient or electric). And if the PVs aren’t up to par for indoor charging, why not rip the device off the wall and use it as an on-the-go energy solution rather than relegating it solely to sunny spots near window sills?

The Illumicharger is one of 18 finalists in this year’s Greener Gadgets Design Competition – be sure to check out all of this year’s entries and vote for your favorite!

+ IllumiCharger

+ Greener Gadgets Design Competition