Nature is powerful. We have always known it and, for years, have been trying to capture that power for our use. The fact that the sun, wind, waves and rain are resources that can be easily replenished only makes them more attractive as sources of energy.
With advances in technology, renewable energy has moved out of the realm of corporations and governments and into our day-to-day lives. Insideshines the light on some devices that let you have the power of the sun in your hands.
1. Solar Power on Your Wrist - SEIKO Astron GPS Solar Chronograph
What is it: This is the world’s first solar GPS watch. It receives GPS satellite signals and recognises 39 times zones, automatically adjusting to local time anywhere in the world.
How it works: SEIKO has been perfecting its solar technology since 1977, so this is one of the most efficient solar gadgets around. Just 10 minutes of sunlight or one hour in a brightly lit room will give this watch enough power to last a whole day.
If you are continually wearing the watch, the battery is also constantly recharging itself so you never have to worry about running out of power. Once fully charged (and the watch has an indicator that will tell you so), it can last up to six months with all its functions or two years in the Power Saving mode.
2. Solar Power in Your Hands - Samsung S7550 Blue Earth Solar Phone
What it it: A full touch screen mobile phone in a sleek design with all the advanced multimedia features of a regular phone.
What adds to its appeal is that it is a green phone in so many ways. Not only is it powered by the sun, it is made from recycled plastic culled from plastic water bottles, known as PCM (Post Consumer Materials). Both the phone and charger are free from harmful substances such as Brominated Flame Retardants (BFR), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Phthalate.
It also has an Eco mode which regulates screen brightness, backlight duration and energy efficiency of the Bluetooth function. The Eco Walk function allows users to count their steps with a built-in pedometer and calculate the reduction in carbon emission as a result of their decision to avoid vehicles. You can actually count the number of trees you save when you choose to walk!
How it works: The solar panel on the back of the phone allows it to be charged through exposure to the sun. An hour of sunlight provides five to 10 minutes of talk time. (The provision is that the sunlight has to be equivalent to that of the noonday sun.) The Blue Earth has a five-star energy efficient charger which uses only 0.03W of power in standby mode.
3. Solar Power at Your Fingertips - Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750
What is it: This wireless keyboard is hassle-free on so many fronts. Solar-powered, it requires no batteries. The wireless USB dongle requires no driver installation. Its long-range wireless connection means you can work and play just about anywhere. It is also beautiful - slim with a sleek, streamlined design.
The keyboard is PVC-free and comes in a fully recyclable box as well. How’s that for being green?
How it works: This keyboard (the solar panels are on top of the keyboard) charges itself with ambient light, whether indoors or outside, and stays charged for at least three months in total darkness.
With the Solar App from Logitech’s website, you can also check how much power the keyboard has left and how much light (measured in Lux) there is in the room.
4. Solar Power for Entertainment - LG Solar-Powered E-reader
What is it: Almost as thin as a credit card, this 10-centimetre wide e-reader is no heavier than a fountain pen, making it highly portable.
How it works: Four to five hours in the sun will give you enough energy for a full day’s reading. The battery life is long because the electronic paper displays draw power only when the page is turned.
5. Solar Power at Work - Samsung NC215s Solar Netbook
What is it: This 10.1-inch mini laptop with 1GB memory (and an option to upgrade to 2GB) has all the bells and whistles of a regular laptop with the added advantage that it is powered by solar cells on its lid. The NC215 also has a high performance processor, fast start with instant-on technology in seconds, SuperBright anti-reflective display with 300nit brightness and is lightweight (just 1.3 kilograms).
How it works: Every two hours of charging can give the device enough juice to go on for an hour. Fully charged, the solar battery can last up to 14.5 hours. The provision is that you have to be expose the netbook to 29 solid hours of sunlight.
6. Solar Power in Style - Tommy Hilfiger Solar Panel Jacket
What is it: Wool and nylon jacket with seven to 10 solar panels in the back that can store enough energy to charge mobile phones. The solar pack is removable. This is great for the outdoorsman who still wants to be in touch with the world. Wearable technology just got more stylish.
How it works: When fully charged, the battery contains enough power to completely charge a 1,500 mAh (milliampere-hour) device up to four times (it is not known how long it takes to fully charge the jacket, though). There is a cable which runs to a battery pack in one of the front pockets. This doubles as a USB port so you can charge two devices at once.
7. Solar Power at Play - Thames & Kosmos Solar Car Kit
What is it: A DIY model car set that lets you build your own solar-powered model car and learn how solar cells generate electricity from light. Each kit allows you to build six model vehicles including a car, plane, bulldozer, helicopter, backhoe and twin-rotor helicopter.
How it works: Three solar cells that generate 1.5 volts of electricity in bright sunlight are included. This power is equivalent to an AA battery. The solar panel also lets you charge rechargeable AA batteries.
8. Solar Power for School - Bamboo Solar Calculator
What is it: Solar calculators are not new. But this one is special because it takes eco-consciousness to another level – the calculator is made from recycled bamboo. Bamboo is considered a very green material because it is grown with no pesticides or fertilizers and highly sustainable since it replenishes itself quickly and easily.
How it works: This calculator requires little energy. Just taking it out and using it is enough exposure to power up the device.
9. Solar Power at Home - Valore Solar Candle Light
What is it:A long-lasting solar-powered LED tea light. With this solar candle light, you never have to worry about struggling with lighters, having your light blown out by a gust of wind or accidental fires. The candle comes in red, blue and yellow
How it works:Set it under the sun for six to eight hours and this candle will remain bright for 20 hours.
There is a wide variety of products that run on solar power and the list will only ever increase with advancing technology. In time, we may be able to do away with batteries, power cables and dine on sun-baked chicken in the light of our solar-powered room. Now, that would give harnessing the power of the sun a whole new meaning!
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