Renewable energy uses are on the rise in the United States. Reports have found that more than 13% of domestically produced electricity in 2015 was generated from renewable sources. At the present, this number is likely closer to 15%. One of the key drivers of this trend is the broad implementation of solar, found in a wide range of products in an exciting and emerging industry that’s expanding with no signs of slowing down.
Most people’s thoughts would immediately go to the large solar panels that get installed on rooftops when they think of solar. But the technology is being used in a host of new products as creative entrepreneurs find new ways to harness the power of the sun. We’ve put together a guide to some of the best solar products for your home in 2017. Take a look at these hot picks!
Solar Powered Phone Charger & Battery Pack
Did you know that the average person picks up their smartphone at least 85 times per day or more? Since most people bring their cell phones with them everywhere now – and some people are so glued to them that they rarely ever put them down – one of the most useful solar tools you can get this year is a solar powered phone charger.
There are many options that start as low as $20 that will get the job done. If you are looking for something small and light, then the GRDE Portable 10000mAH Dual USB Solar Powered Phone Charger will work well for you. This is a simple utility to make sure that you’ll never have to worry about the battery level on your phone again, while also doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint.
If you want to power more than just your phone, one of the best solar powered chargers on the market is the Anker PowerPort Solar. Their charger is easy to bring anywhere, and features a fold-out design that enables it to generate more electricity than many of the other chargers on the market today. It generates enough power to charge a tablet or two cell phones on a sunny day (who would have thought?). One of the best features of this charger is how intuitive it is; if the clouds block the sunlight or you are indoors, it knows, and resumes charging again the moment there’s a spot of sunshine. Unlike many other chargers that can take 15 minutes or longer after direct sunlight is blocked to start charging again, the PowerPort Solar starts charging again almost immediately. At $50 on Amazon, the Anker PowerPort Solar is affordable and incredibly useful if you’ll be away from outlets for an extended period of time.
Solar chargers are great for recharging a phone or tablet, but you’ll need a good battery pack to store that energy if you are truly looking for an on-demand power source. That’s why our next pick, Anker’s PowerCore 20000, is a great addition to your charging panel. It can store enough power to charge an iPhone 6s up to 7 times on a single charge!
The Duracell Powerpack Pro 1300 will run you a bit more change, if you are looking for something more robust. This beastly unit sells for $183.73 on Amazon and it’s perfect for recreation and emergency charging. It has the power to jumpstart a car and the versatility to charge and run most common electronics for hours. This is a must have for a frequent traveler or camper.
Solar Powered Speakers & Headphones
With the demand for Bluetooth speakers increasing, and with lots of great streaming music options available these days, it’s only natural to combine solar technology with a great speaker. There are a lot of options, so we picked our two favorite solar powered Bluetooth speakers for 2017.
The Braven BRV-PRO Waterproof Speaker delivers a unique combination of stylish, futuristic design with great sound quality and utility. It is the perfect gift for any camper or music lover. You get up to 30 hours of wireless play on a single charge. Or simply fold out the solar panel and put it in direct sunlight to charge while it plays. At $115, it is slightly more expensive than many Bluetooth speakers currently on the market. However, the durability, sound quality and solar capabilities make it well worth the price tag.
For a less expensive speaker with many of the same features, you will want to check out the Eton Rugged Rukus. It is about half the cost at $60 on Amazon, but delivers good sound quality. The battery lasts up to seven hours on a full charge and offers solar charging in direct sunlight as well. The Rugged Rukus is also water-resistant and can charge your phone via USB, too.
As we bring more gadgets with us on the go, a solar backpack makes a great gift for the technology junkie in your life. At the top of our list is the BirkSun. This solar powered bag offers some of the coolest-looking and most powerful features. The solar panel on this backpacks blends in nicely with the bag, so it doesn’t look like you’re carrying a massive charging pod with you everywhere. BirkSun offers an array of styles and colors so you can find the perfect fit. All of their models currently sell for under $150 and come equipped with pockets to store everything from a computer or tablet to your hiking gear, water bottle and more. The solar panel is waterproof and stores energy in a battery in the backpack, with convenient charging ports for all your devices.
SunLabz added an unique feature to their solar powered backpack with the hydration pack. The backpack is smaller than any of the BirkSun models, so it’s not quite as useful for longer trips, but it’s awesome for day trips and regular hikers. You can store up to 1.8 liters of water or your favorite fluids inside of the internal pouch. It also comes equipped with a 7W solar panel and battery for energy storage. SunLabz bags currently sell for $70 and up on Amazon, offering a slightly lower price tag than the BirkSun collection.
Solar Powered Tents
For the camping enthusiast, solar powered tents are bringing about a whole new level of convenience to their extended stays out in nature. Most tents that advertise solar power simply come with an additional charging panel (similar to the Anker PowerPort), that is up until now. Two innovative companies are looking to change that dramatically this year, and that’s why they make this list.
The Kaleidoscope Orange Solar Tent looks like something from the future. The sleek design with three large solar panels on top can be moved throughout the day so that they are always directly facing the sunlight to soak up the most power. The rest of the tent material has solar threads that provide maximum solar efficiency. The tent is large enough for a family of four, but has limited production and availability at this time. Unfortunately for the camper or festival goer that’s been looking for something just like this, you’ll have to wait a bit longer before you can purchase one. The prototype was designed for the Glastonbury Music Festival and does not have a timeline for mass production or big market sale yet.
Cinch Popup Tents has also thrown their hat into ring. Their tents are easy to setup, are solar powered and are artfully designed. The company just recently started taking preorders on their tents, but has not disclosed when the first units will be shipped. One can only hope it stacks up to the Kaleidoscope so that there’s more than one good option on the market in the near future.
Solar Technology is Expanding Quickly
It’s interesting to see how many cool new products have included solar panels over the last two years. As the price of solar technology continues to drop, there are certain to be many more creative uses. This is a trend that we’ll continue to follow in future blogs. With new and exciting gadgets coming to the market all the time, it’s interesting to follow some of these prototypes from concept to mass production. One day, it may be possible to ditch the electrical outlet for good, and instead go green with a solarized but technology-rich lifestyle instead.