It’s hard to comprehend just how much we rely on electricity until the power goes out. One fallen tree, crashed car, or blown transformer is all it takes to throw us back to the dark ages, and without a generator, our devices won’t last long on batteries. Thankfully, there’s another option: solar power.
Solar energy is used to power radios, ovens, toolkits, cars, keyboards, and even homes in 2019, and the list of solar-fueled products is growing by the day. Their ubiquity makes stormy nights a bit easier to get through, but for those without reliable access to power, they can be a literal life-saver. Should you swap out your devices for sun-powered alternatives?
Solar power is exceptionally practical, and it offers several advantages over traditional electricity, the most obvious being the ability to use it anywhere. Solar technology doesn’t require you to be near an outlet, so unless you’re spelunking or deep sea diving, you’ll always be close enough to the sun to source a charge. Whether you’re camping, going on a road trip, or hiking across state lines, solar technology is helpful and convenient.
Another advantage to solar energy is its environmental impact, or lack thereof. Because it doesn’t come from the power grid, it doesn’t require the burning of fossil fuels to produce. This makes it much cleaner than traditional electricity.
On a similar note, solar technology is cheaper in the long term because it doesn’t use energy from your utility company. You may pay a bit more for them up front, but if you use these products wisely, you could see positive returns on your energy bill.
All these reasons prove solar devices are much more than just power outage backups. We think they’re worth your consideration, whether it’s for replacing or supplementing what you already have. With that in mind, here are some of our favorites.
It’s normal to be afraid of the dark, but with the best solar-powered devices, you don’t have to be.
Solar-powered shopping list
When you need light, a dying battery is one of the most frustrating things you can experience. Solar lanterns grant you independence from the drama of disposable batteries and plugs, providing bright LED radiance courtesy of small solar panels. The collapsable Survival Frog solar lantern is a winner for us due to its portability and versatility, with the ability to charge mobile devices by USB if you’re short on power.
Solar flashlights like the NPET T09 offer similar advantages for tightly-focused illumination. In addition to being compact and extremely bright, this particular model includes a seatbelt cutter and window shatter tool for emergencies.
To modern electronics users, the ability to charge is a vital resource, right up there with drinkable water and breathable air. A fantastic way to guarantee that charge is by liberating yourself from outlets and investing in a solar charger.
Units like the BigBlue 28W Solar Charger boast significant powering capabilities and a clever built-in ammeter, but for less coin, this alternative from PowerGreen can keep your gadgets juiced up without breaking the bank.
A portable radio or speaker is the best way to turn an outdoor gathering into a party, and with a solar-powered one, you can enjoy music anywhere for as long as you want. Leave the extension cords and batteries at home — you’ll have more room for snacks.
Our favorite solar-powered speaker is the Simplz IPX5. Not only is it waterproof and sleekly designed, it can play for 60 hours on a full charge, and its batteries are replenished more quickly than the majority of its competitors.
If you’re after something geared toward survival instead of entertainment, consider the Wayl Emergency Weather Radio. It features a 4000mAh radio, 7 NOAA weather stations, a USB cell phone charger, an LED flashlight, and a hand crank for instant power.
For something slightly less utilitarian but significantly more stylish, enter the realm of solar-powered watches. These sun-powered timepieces forgo the need for tiny watch batteries or mechanical wind-ups, and due to the advancement in panel technology, it’s almost impossible to tell a solar watch from a non-solar watch. We like the stainless steel Seiko calendar watch for its sturdy quartz design, clean look, and ability to run for almost a month on a full charge.
Why buy a solar charger and a backpack when you can get both? Solar backpacks are rapidly gaining popularity in the hiking community for their ability to charge phones, tablets, and other devices on the go. They’re not just for hiking though, because they’re just great backpacks, too.
Sunkingdom’s solar backpack features an ergonomic, durable design with a dedicated laptop compartment and built-in USB port. If that’s not your style, check out Fanspack’s compact solar backpack made from oxford cloth.