ByLeigh Garofalow

Nov 4, 2014
Power your lifestyle with solar

Whether on the go or chillaxing at home, solar power has the potential to power our lives.

On the go, go, go

If 170 million people with an iPhone charged it with a solar charger the energy saved would power ALL the homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for one year.

Here are three solar power options for those of us not content with sitting in front of a TV all day.

  • Solar phone chargers are a great way to conserve energy. These compact devices can go anywhere with you so you can charge at any time. You can leave your charger on the dashboard of your car or in a windowsill that gets plenty of sunlight. When looking for the perfect solar phone charger, be sure to find one that stores the energy from the sun so you can charge your phone at night while you sleep.
  • A portable solar charger will allow you to charge your devices including computers more quickly (given its higher watt capacity). This particular solar charger gives you a great middle of the road device that can charge small items yet is powerful enough to juice your larger electronics if you so choose.
  • Solar backpacks are a great option for hikers or commuters. You do not need to be on the trail to get your solar backpack to recharge. If you are a commuter or the on-the-go type, using a solar backpack is a great way to harness the sun’s energy.

Home is where the heart is

When was the last time you raved about the electric bill at the cocktail party?  We’re not sure if those two things have ever been muttered together before.

With the volatility in electric pricing, homeowners are looking for conservation opportunities. That pesky electric bill each month? Zap it with some solar power. No really.

For many, upfront costs to install full-scale solar panels still remain an obstacle.  However, there are many solar products that you can easily use to help get you further off the grid without attaching anything to your roof or making a huge upfront investment.

Let’s take a look-see…

  • Higher wattage solar panels capable of hooking up to a battery backup generator can really put a dent in that electric bill.  This is particularly useful for people who have a yard or a balcony and want to store energy for future use.  A single solar panel, generally ranging from $150-250, can generate about 100 watts of energy (under optimal conditions with direct sunlight at the right angle).  Larger capacity battery back up generators generally run about $1,500. An added bonus: These generators can be used to power your home in an emergency.  This of course assumes proper hook up from an electrician to your home’s central power supply or power devices which would be directly plugged into it from a 110v plug.
  • Take your remote controls off the grid by using the solar charger for rechargeable batteries. So many items in our homes still take batteries, batteries that unfortunately end up in landfills leaching chemicals into the soil. Reducing battery waste is a great step for the environment. Most battery solar chargers are self-contained boxes where the batteries are stored inside while the solar panel is on the outside. It is so easy to leave the box outside on a sunny day and recharge your batteries.
  • Solar flashlights are great to leave in a few windowsills throughout your house so you have a flashlight ready whenever you need it. Batteries can be hard to come by in an emergency and prolonged power interruptions make it almost impossible to get new batteries. Having a few solar flashlights helps keep you with some lighting when you need it.

While it may be hard to get all your electricity usage from these solar devices, it will help you harness nature’s power all the more.

Feature image courtesy of Diego Sevilla Ruiz

By Leigh Garofalow

Leigh Garofalow is a self described 'born environmentalist' who won a recycling poster contest in 3rd grade and has been green ever since. She is a mother of two children under the age of 6 who think taking a cloth napkin and their own utensils to school is normal. She loves writing about anything related to health, wellness, and the environment. One day she hopes to make every up-cycled item and recipe she pinned on Pinterest!