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Coolest Solar Gadgets Under the Sun

Coolest Solar Gadgets Under the Sun
With the longest day of the year, here in the Northern Hemisphere, having just come and gone we thought it would be fun to share our collection of some fun, unusual and practical solar gadgets that could help you out in a pinch and also help the environment.
Solar Powered Baseball CapWe have never had one of these caps on our heads so we can’t say how comfortable they feel or how the light looks but we’re impressed by the idea of a hat with built-in LED lights that get their power from a built-in battery that is charged by a solar panel on the visor. The New Zealand-based 2CLight Company claims their $39 Solar Light Cap will provide 3 hours of light from a single charge.
Solar Heated Thermos Boils WaterDeveloped by British engineer James Bentham, the Solar Kettle called the SunRocket uses panels that unfold to reflect sunlight on a flask of water or some other liquid that can heat it to boiling using only the sun. Once heated, the thermos will keep it hot for hours. It holds a half a liter or about 17 ounces and they claim it will heat water in as little as 30 minutes. Users, who give it good marks, say it can take up to two hours to boil water. You can buy a SunRocket for around $67.
Solar Charger and Flashlight ComboFor $79 you can buy an environmentally-friendly solar charger and flashlight from Waka Waka that can charge a phone or other device using a USB port as well as provide 40 hours of bright LED light from 8 hours of sun. The company’s foundation is helping to “light up” developing countries with these devices.
Charge an iPhone at Wall-Charging Speed Using Solar PowerThe Suntactics sCharger-12 claims to be capable of fully charging two iPads at the same time in one day’s worth of sunlight or one smartphone in 2 hours. You can buy an sCharger-12 for around $240 or a smaller version, the sCharger-5 for $140.
Solar Innovations From SolarFocusA company named SolarFocus makes several interesting solar products including a jacket called the SoalrCaldo 61 that uses their highly efficient, glass-free, “Triple Junction Amorphous Solar Panel” to power a heating element inside the jacket. If you are the owner of a Kindle Touch and are looking for case with a built-in light that is solar-powered, then their SolarFocus Solar Cover for $60 might be just the thing for you. SolarFocus also makes other solar charging devices like the fold-out SolarSupra 82 Survival Kit which could come in handy on a backpacking trip.
Solar Window Chargers
Whether you’re on an airplane that lacks a power outlet by your seat or you’re lucky enough to work close to a sunny window, here are two devices that suction onto a window to collect solar energy that can be used to charge one of your devices. Only one is currently for sale while the other is still under development. The XD Design Window Solar Charger (left) includes a 1400 mAh Li-ion battery which they say takes around 13 hours of direct sunlight to fully charge. You can buy an XD Design charger for around $70. A company named Quirky has been developing a device similar to the XD Design device called “Ray” that also incudes a suction cup to hold it onto a window.
Three Solar-Powered Eton Rukas Radios
Eton has been making solar-powered and human powered devices for a long time. Their rukus radio line includes the rukus XL (left) which can connect to your mobile device through a Bluetooth or USB connection and can run for 8 hours off of a charge from the wall or the sun. The rukus XL costs around $200 and can also charge a device through its USB connector. For around $150 you can buy the rukus Solar that does everything the XL does and might be easier to tote along. The smaller and splashproof, Rugged rukus (right) goes for around $100.
USB Chargers
You can find plenty of solar panels with USB ports on places like ebay but the $99 Sun Drive from the Korean company ZyRUS is the size of a thumb drive and includes a solar panel, flash drive, and battery. You can charge the battery from the sun or a USB port and then use the adaptors to power one of your devices. Dunhill offers a more stylish version of a thumb drive-sized charger for $195, that claims to deliver 30 hours of charge time for a phone or MP3 player. The FreeLoader Pro (right) sells for around $70 and offers similar capabilities. Users say it works generally well but don’t expect miracles out of any of these small charging devices.
Solar Charger Disguised as a Plant
The XD Design Solar Sunflower charger includes a 2500mAh mAh Li-ion battery in the plant base that can be used to charge a smartphone or a tablet however the 5V at 1 amp output is less than what a typical iPad charger delivers so charging time will be longer.
Solar Keyboard from Logitech
If you like to use an external keyboard on your iPad or iPhone but are concerned about battery life than this solar-powered, Bluetooth keyboard from Logitech might be for you. The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 is the latest version that offers Logitech’s concave keys that claim to increase comfort and decrease typing noise. The Bluetooth keyboard, similar to a calculator, can run off any available light source. You can buy one for around $60
Help Light Up the World
A company named MPOWERD has come up with an affordable solar-powered lighting device they think can help provide light for under-developed countries as well as anyone looking for a practical lighting device or something to help ride out a power outage. The Luci is an inflatable lantern that can provide 12 hours of light from 6 hours in the sun and can hold a charge for 2 months. It costs around $15 and you can use one of their partners to buy a lantern or two for a worthy cause.

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