Seems like these days everyone is talking about alternative energy sources and the number one topic is solar energy. There are several innovative new products on the market that make use of the suns power to make them work. In order to qualify for this list, products must rely solely on the sun for their power and be a useful product.
The most common use for solar power on a small scale seems to be as a battery charger which, comes as no surprise since this is how solar panels are used on a bigger scale. There are so many of them available today that there is no excuse not to use them. They come in one of two basic styles, either as a solid unit that looks like a miniature version of the ones seen on roofs and in huge arrays, or as a flexible or roll up version. Either way they work great for keeping everything from your cell phone to your laptop charged. You can even get one to keep the battery in your car charged for those times when you are gone for an extended time.
Seems like half the neighborhood has lights along the sidewalks and paths in their yards anymore, even though these are very low users of electricity, they still do. Why no t replace them with ones that have a solar panel and battery instead. You can find these at almost any of the big hardware stores like Home Depot or even at your local Wal-Mart for a very reasonable price, as low as $49.97 for a set of six. These come with nickel metal hydride batteries and will run for several hours on a full charge.
Most homes these days have vent fans in the attic; these too can be powered by solar panels. This is an excellent way to not only lower the cost of running your fans to zero, but also lower your cooling bill in the summer. By installing several of these in the roof of your house they will pull the hot air out of the attic, which will keep your air conditioning from running as frequently. Earthtech has these for a decent price, or again you can usually find them at your local discount hardware chain.
A nifty gadget that is solar powered and designed to help cut down on your gas consumption is the solar powered auto vent. You simply roll your window down, place this little fan on over the top of the glass, then roll your window back up. The solar panel runs the fan; which in turn draws some of the hot air out of your car reducing the amount of work your a/c has to do to cool your car down. Most of them are designed to pull enough air through your car that it is replaced every 20 minutes or so, this results in a cooler car after sitting in the sun all day.
Finally one of my favorites; in the state I live in many of the signs used by the highway department whether for construction or weather conditions are now powered by solar panels. What a great idea, not only does this cut down on the amount of gas used for small generators, but it also reduces pollution caused by the exhaust fumes. We also have emergency phones along the turnpikes that are powered the same way, negating the need for running power lines to each one.
These are just some of the ways that small solar panels are being used to run some of the things we use in everyday life. Anything we can do to reduce the use of electricity from the grid cuts down on the amount of fossil fuels we use, which in turn helps save our world one small step at a time.
Sources: http://walmart.com , http://homedepot.com , http://Earthtech.com