10 Cool Solar Home Swaps
Tapping into energy from the sun is no longer limited to rooftops and large plots of land. As solar panels shrink, a host of innovative solar-powered products are coming to the market, enabling you to swap the socket for the sun and give your sustainability credentials a boost. In addition to being environmentally friendly, solar is free to use and accessible anywhere.
Since small changes go a long way, here's a look at how everyone can be more eco-friendly, by swapping some everyday household gadgets with solar-powered alternatives to kick-start your sustainable living.
1. Solar Chargers
Fuel your phone and other devices using clean power from the sun. Solar power chargers have small panels on their surface that capture sunlight and turn it into electricity. They come in many different shapes and sizes from solar powered phone chargers—that are about the same size as a smartphone—through to larger solar power chargers that can fuel multiple devices at once. Many are small enough to carry around, so you can give your gadgets some juice wherever you are.
2. Solar Keyboards
This quirky innovation is a great way to make your home office green. A solar-powered keyboard is a wireless device that charges its batteries from the light, whether that's light from the sun or from a lightbulb. It looks and feels like a conventional computer keyboard, only it contains a slim strip of solar panels across its top. The best bit? It can hold its charge for at least three months in complete darkness.
3. Solar Window Charger
Similar to solar-powered chargers, only these stick on windows. This means you can easily charge your devices simply by sticking the charger on a window, whether that's in your car, on a plane or in your bedroom.
4. Solar Powered Outdoor Lights
This is one of the easiest home swaps to make your home more green. Solar powered outdoor lights are a sustainable and effective alternative to mains lights and you can install them anywhere, without being limited to plugging into a mains outlet. By capturing the natural light of the sun to generate electricity, they're completely free to run. You can find them in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from wall lights and motion lights, to torch lights, spotlights and decorative lights, such as pretty lanterns and bulbs.
5. Solar Speakers
Solar speakers are ideal for music-on-the-go, enabling you to play your tunes without worrying about running out of power. They're typically portable, lightweight and waterproof and many have the added benefit of a USB port so you can charge your phone at the same time. They often last for at least eight hours without charge. Perfect for barbecues, beach trips, camping and even just for using around the home.
6. Solar Powered Watch
Swap your battery-powered wrist watch for a sustainable alternative. Solar watches use mini solar cells to convert any light source into power, which means you can charge them up from artificial light as well as sunlight. The great thing is that they are constantly charging, so they store up a large power reserve to last through the night and when they are covered. Some can gather a power reserve to last as long as eight years. A fantastic way to avoid the hassle of replacing your watch batteries.
7. Solar Backpack
Ideal for hiking, day trips or your daily commute, solar backpacks are super handy, enabling you to fuel your devices wherever you are. They look just like a normal backpack, but with a slim strip of lightweight solar panels running down the front. While they don't always give you the same charging speed as a home charger, they do enable you to charge your devices anywhere, anytime, and they come in a variety of colors and sizes so you don't have to compromise on style.
8. Solar Grill
Barbecuing may be one of America's favorite pastimes, but it isn't one of the most environmentally friendly. Whether you use charcoal, wood chips or gas, grilling releases dirty fumes that pollute the air around us. So why not swap the conventional grill and go off-grid for your cooking with a solar-powered alternative? You never need to worry about fuel and they make a great conversation starter. You can buy them in a range of sizes, from small portable cookers to family-sized grills.
9. Solar Roof Tiles
Otherwise known as solar shingles, solar roof tiles are designed to look and function as a building material, at the same time as producing clean power from the sun for you to use in your own home. They are smaller than traditional panels, easier to install and can replace or lie on top of roof tiles. Scientific American reports that solar shingles could lower monthly electricity bills anywhere between 40 percent and 70 percent.
10. Solar Address Sign
Even in the darkest night, your visitors will easily be able to find your house with this innovative application of solar. A solar-powered address sign simply soaks up the sun by day and lights up your address by night.
If you're looking to implement deeper changes then why not consider generating your own renewable power? Rooftop solar panels will boost your energy independence and may even lower your monthly electricity bills. Get started with our solar calculator by simply inserting your address to see how much you could save.