Feb 11, 2014 ,
portable solar charger
Changers’ Starter Kit includes a solar panel and battery, which, when fully charged, has enough power to recharge an iPhone twice. Photo: Changers

Solar power is not just for houses anymore. The technology is being implemented on all sorts of technology products as an alternative to plugs and batteries, and prices are comparable to their non-solar counterparts.

For some devices (e.g. calculators), you’ve likely been solar-powered for years without knowing it. But here are five other electronics products that all have solar options currently available:

1. Battery Chargers

Be honest, in this age of smart phones and constant data access, you often find your cell phone, laptop and or tablet in need of a charge. The problem, of course, is the biggest benefit of these products is they allow you cordless freedom, so why would you want to be cooped up near an outlet while they charge?

There are plenty of solar chargers available, ranging in size from credit card to backpack. You’ll want to find one that offers multiple adapters, since the plug for your iPhone won’t work if you switch to an Android.

Many solar chargers will take longer to fully charge your gadgets than non-solar chargers, so they are ideal for situations where you have time to kill and downtime for charging (e.g. airplane rides).

2. Watches

In case you hadn’t heard, watches are far from obsolete. But the only thing more annoying than changing the time on your watch is replacing the battery. With a solar-powered watch, you can check one chore off your list.

Solar powered watches have been around for awhile, but many manufacturers now have a solar-powered line of watches. The watch contains a solar panel behind the face, and if you’re thinking short sleeves are a requirement to wear one to access sunlight, consider many solar-powered watches can hold power for six months with no exposure to light.

3. Fans

Summer will be here before you know it, meaning more sunlight combined with hotter temperatures. Why not harness the power of the sun to reduce your energy costs?

You can buy solar fans for the attic or your desk, and the fan generates more power in the hottest climate. You also have the portability of moving the fan to whichever room you’re occupying without unplugging.

4. Pool Cleaners

If you live in an area with lots of sunlight, you likely utilize a pool during the summer. But the nation’s over 5 million residential pools use 49 percent more electricity per year than homes without, meaning pool owners should look for any way possible to cut this energy use.

Solar-powered pool cleaners can collect any debris from the pool surface, while also adding chemicals to the water. Capturing these materials before they sink to the bottom of the pool will save energy costs of filtering the water.

5. GPS Systems

The one thing your compass could always hold over your Garmin is that it didn’t need to be plugged in. While most of us now use global positioning systems (GPS) in the car or on our smartphone, they are often useful in places where you have limited cell phone coverage (e.g. camping).

Another thing limited in these situations is power outlets. The last thing you want in the middle of the woods is for your battery to go out.