Solar Powered Gadgets To Make The Most Of The Rays

With the longer days of summer well and truly here, it’s an apt time to turn our attention towards the solar powered gadgets of this world. Technology has improved in recent years; whereas solar powered stuff used to need a full day out in glaring sunlight to add a percentage to battery life, these gadgets are now more efficient, lighter, and broader in range.

They might well turn out to be our new favourite toys. If harnessing free energy wasn’t reason enough, and the convenience of an always-charging product was a given, there’s also the green aspect of it to allure. Harnessing solar power does away with countless batteries or plugging into the mains, reducing our carbon footprint in a small but significant way.

So what are the new fandangled solar gadgets worth eyeing up? We’ve picked out the products that will make life easier, and the best-in-class example of each. And rest assured, our recommendations are independently made.

For phone addicts

On-the-go chargers are big business, thanks to a mix of us using phones more, and phone manufacturers that seem to have deprioritised improvements to battery life. While battery packs are now often used on the go, solar chargers offer an endless supply of free energy ­– which means you don’t have to worry about charging battery packs in advance. The Anker PowerPort 21W Solar Charger, for example, delivers 3 amps of power under direct sunlight. It charges at around half the speed of mains changing and is heavy-duty enough to work for laptops and tablets too. It’s also helpfully light – it weighs the same as a bottle of beer, making it nicely portable.

For the eco-conscious

If the aim of using solar power is sustainability, Fossil’s new range of watches will be of interest. Created with planet-preserving in mind, Fossil Solar watches power their rechargeable battery using light panels concealed in the watch face. But that’s only the start of it. It’s vegan and made using sustainable materials, including bioplastics within the casing. Each watch comes with five coloured straps, each of which are spun from yarn created from 16 discarded plastic bottles. Finally, it’s packaged and shipped in fully recyclable packaging. It’s available in two sizes and comes with a whole lot of eco-conscious points.

For daytrippers

We suspect many of us will uncover our inner hiker while coronavirus is present. Essential equipment these days involves more than a bottle of water and a first aid kit, so a durable, comfy backpack makes the world of difference. And if you can build a solar panel into it, it suddenly doubles in helpfulness. Try Eceen’s 10W solar power backpack, which includes a large solar panel on its exterior to catch the sun as you’re out and about. It includes chargers for different ports, and with a canvas design it’s one of the nicer looking solar backpacks on the market. That makes up for the fact that unlike others, the solar panel isn’t detachable.

For the home office

With home offices now becoming more of a norm across the UK, those working from them might consider sprucing up their equipment for the long haul. Enter Logitech’s Wireless Solar Keyboard, which works nicely with laptops that need to have their screens at eye level, which otherwise makes for uncomfortable typing. It has all the benefits of a wireless keyboard, without the need for constant charging. The charge it receives through normal light is impressive – the slimline keyboard can work in total darkness for three months, so its energy source won’t need thinking about. Plus it’s comfortable to use and works straight out of the box.

For summer nights in the garden

Though the days are longer right now, we still need to consider mood lighting for when night sets in. For this quandry, fairy lights are a good solution. Simply by themselves, they’re enough to change an outdoor space into a cosy, inviting area. Best of all, they don’t demand a great deal of energy, which make them a perfect candidate for solar power. Try the Solar Centre’s Warm White Fairy Lights, which come with a rechargeable battery and solar panel. A full charge gives ten hours of gentle glow ­– more than enough for an alfresco dinner on a balmy summer evening.