The power of solar energy is mostly harnessed for trinket toys that deliver more novelty than real value. Take a look in the gallery below.
Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750
This is the best solar-powered tech gadget on the market and it’s worthless. Why? Because most of the people who would buy it sit in dimly lit offices illuminated only by the bluish light of their monitors. That’s not going to power anything.
Eton Soulra XL
This solar-powered boom box illustrates the two chief problems of solar tech. One, it takes too damn long to charge: you have to leave the Soulra XL in full sun for five hours to get eight hours of playback. And two: it costs $150 more than a comparable non-solar product.
Sharp Solar Hybrid SH6230C Cell Phone
When your cell phone’s battery goes out now, which happens all too quickly, you need to plug in a charging cable. Imagine how much more annoying it would be if you had to wait for a sunny day to (slowly) charge your phone.
Voltaic Solar Backpacks
These backpacks may be feel-good purchases, but even the Voltaic site admits it takes four to five hours in full sun to charge a phone with one of them.
It’s easy to be cynical about solar power when there are products like this around. As the KudoCase site itself notes, “Sunlight is much stronger than indoor light” and will power the case better. “A lifeguard that only uses their iPad solar case a little may go weeks or months without needing a charge.” Seriously? Most of us haven’t gotten that much sun since we went to summer camp. And by the way, that lifeguard should stop checking his Facebook and watch the damn pool.
Eton Rukus Solar
No doubt you’ll end up using the included AC adapter or USB port to charge this thing most of the time, anyway.
Leave it to community design collective Quirky to come up with one of the few solar gadgets that looks worthwhile. Attached to a window, this thing might actually provide a decent charge. But hold off on using it in an airplane unless you want to find out who the air marshal is on your flight. The next thing you know, four 300-pounders will be pinning you down as your plane makes an unscheduled landing.
Eton has made a pretty attractive iPhone case here. Too bad it’ll rarely be on an iPhone: most of the time the owner will leave it outside to charge in the sun while actually using his or her iPhone in a house or office.
SolLight LightCap 300
Here’s a solar product for people who actually spend a lot of time outdoors: hikers and campers. It’s a BPA-free water bottle, a lantern that can last for eight hours, and a waterproof case for valuables (when not holding water).
Solar Visor Radio
It’s a solar-powered radio and a visor all in one. It’s a product you can only imagine wearing as a joke. It’s just so ugly.