Most of us don’t have the budget for a large-scale solar installation, and these systems are generally not very cost effective yet. If you live in an apartment, then you are definitely out of luck; not only are you unable to add solar panels outside of your apartment, but you also have no control over many of the appliances inside the apartment, which means that management can fill your apartment with energy hogging appliances and there is little you can do to stop them. There is hope for those wishing they could go a little greener, however. There are many devices entering the market that have self-contained solar power units, many of which will also charge using inside lights or streetlamps.
The most common use of solar powered replacements is outdoors. A quick way to lower your bill is to replace your outdoor lights with solar powered ones. While you may want to have your security light hard wired still, you probably won’t miss your garden lights on a rainy day. These devices have been around for quite awhile so are not terribly expensive.
For around $50, you can stop charging your phone at work to slow the drain on your electric bill. Chargers for all the small devices consumers now use have come under fire recently for drawing power even when the device is charged or not plugged in. Instead, these solar powered battery packs will charge just about any rechargeable device without using your home’s power. All you need to do is leave the solar cell in a sunny window for a few hours and you’ll have a free charge for your phone. The most common interface for these devices is a USB, but you can also get ones that will charge specific models of phones, or even your AA’s.
For more uncommon uses, think of anything you use that can run on batteries. Flashlights and radios are common uses for this technology. Logitech is even producing a wireless keyboard that charges on your indoor lighting, and stays charged for up to three months in total darkness. While the price tag on items like this are still pretty high, that fact that you won’t have to hunt down new batteries in the middle of your game is a big plus. Toys are also becoming increasingly popular items to include solar panels. Not only are you teaching your kids good stewardship, you won’t have to carry 100 batteries with you whenever you go out.
While solar energy has not yet become the norm, most people could easily benefit from at least a few of these devices in their home. Next time you are looking to get a new clock or phone charger, take a look at the solar options available. The easiest way to look at it is, “if it can use batteries it can use solar.” You might save some money in the long run and can feel great about yourself as well..