Devices. We all rely on them every day, and we’re stuck in a constant loop of charging and using and charging. While we now have more options for powering up, there are still plenty of times when we’re off-grid. No electricity? No problem. Use the power of the sun! It’s free, and as green and renewable as it comes.
Here, five cool solar chargers to keep you connected whether you’re hiking, hanging out at the beach, or just trying to be green.
This is a clever way to keep the sun off your head and charge your phone at the same time. The Solsol hat comes in a variety of colors to match your style, all equipped with a solar panel on the brim As soon as the sun’s rays hit it, it funnels power to your device. Unlike some chargers, this one doesn’t have a battery to store surplus power, so use it or lose it, folks!
If you’ve a sunny spot near a window, the Sun Tree makes a great talking point as well as a practical charger. Stick it on a windowsill or desk and let it grab rays for you while you go about your business. The charger has nine “leaves” with solar cells, and there’s a hidden rechargeable lithium battery inside. A feature we love: the Tree’s USB and mini-USB ports. It’s always good to have options.
Billed as the world’s thinnest and lightest charger, Solar Paper packs a lot of juice: “Solar paper can charge almost any device that recharges via USB, including smartphones, tablets, walkie talkies, flashlights, portable game consoles, cameras, video cameras, and rechargeable batteries,” say the inventors. You can even connect separate panels to generate more power. Each one measures 9cm by 19cm and weighs under five ounces.
Some may call this the ultimate lazy way to charge a phone, but we prefer to think it’s smart and practical. This shade has a flexible 7.5-Watt solar panel, and you can stick it on most beach or outdoor lounge chairs. The panel will fully charge your smartphone in four to five hours, so you can just put it down and relax. Pick up a book and read (or snooze) while your shade soaks up some rays.
The MoMA store’s WakaWaka is an impressive device. It’s light, yet sturdy, and doesn’t take up a lot of room when you’re on the road. It will charge a smartphone in a mere two hours and can also be used to shine light for a whopping 150 hours (apparently “WakaWaka” means “bright light” in Swahili). If the sun hides behind the clouds, no worries—you can charge it via a USB cord.
Outdoor adventurers will appreciate the SOS emergency beacon option. You can hang the charger from your backpack or a tree while you’re camping, or prop it on a table or shelf. Oh, and when you buy one, another will be donated to the International Rescue Committee for a family in need.