Daily Archives: June 13, 2011

10 Strange Solar Powered Gadgets

Solar powered gadgets are everywhere now, and the ways solar power is incorporated into gizmos is fun to follow. Oh sure we’ve seen the double-take items like solar bras, and the cooler devices like cell phones. But so many are just down right strange. We’ve gathered up a handful of the odder solar powered devices that have made their way on to the scene. Click through to check them out.

solar desk gadget photo
Photo via 724deal

Starting with the silly, here is a desktop gadget that it meant entirely to entertain. The little head and body bobble back and forth, thanks to the tiny solar panel on the base. The point? Perhaps it’s just the very last life line to cling to if you’re dying of boredom.
solar bonzai tree photo
Photo via Toys and Gadgets

This one is certainly strange, though actually serves a purpose. You can build your own bonsai tree with branches sporting various solar panels. The panels charge up a battery that you can connect your gadgets to. The battery, gadgets, and wires can all be stored inside the base, er, pot. It will lend a very sci-fi look to any home, and if you get bored with the look, just rearrange the branches. It’s one house plant you’ll have a hard time killing, but works just as hard converting sunlight to energy as its greener neighbors.

solar toy spider photo
Photo via Select Solar

This…is a spider. We know it’s so because that’s what the company says it is…and that’s about the only way we’d guess it to be a spider. It does kind of resemble those little jumping spiders that hop on you when you’re laying in the grass at a picnic. Kind of. At any rate, it’s a 21-piece DIY kit that you, or anyone over the age of 8, can put together. If you’re itching to have it, most of the solar powered plasticrap stores sell it.
solar-monkey-climbing-rope.jpg
Photo via Technabob

What solar toy collection is complete without a solar powered rope-climbing monkey?! There’s nothing quite like slapping a solar cell on a piece of plasticrap and calling it educational. This little guy is intended to help kids “appreciate the power of alternative energy.” More likely, they’ll put it together, watch it climb the rope a few times and then it’ll end up at the bottom of the toy chest. If a parent really wants to make a toy educational, they’d grab one that is already at the bottom of the toy chest and teach their kids a cool hack, powering it with solar cells ripped off of the neighbor kid’s solar powered toy monkey that got used twice and tossed aside.
aurora odysseus flier photo
Photo via Gizmag

This is the Odysseus from Aurora. It is basically a low-flying satellite. It can fly in sustained uninterrupted flight for over five years, hanging around altitudes between 60,000-90,000 feet. And, it’s solar powered. It’s a concept device created by Aurora for military use, intended for surveillance and reconnaissance, communications relay and environmental monitoring. Useful, but still definitely a stranger bit of flying solar powered technology than we’re used to.

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solar tire gauge image Photo via Chinavasion

It’s not too often you think about your tire gauge. Tire pressure, yes; tire gauge, no. Especially the power source for your gauge. In fact, it’s easy to find one that doesn’t require a power source at all. But if you’re concerned that you have to have a digital tire gauge and it has to be reliably powered, well by golly there’s a solar powered one out there for you. So if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and you just have to check your tire pressure, have no fear…the solar cells on your trusty tire gauge won’t let you down.
solar  powered plant pot photo
Photo via Pocket Lint

If you’re looking for a way to line your walkway other than using solar luminaries, this could be a solution. But it looks a little too similar to a radioactive waste bin. We haven’t seen a yard-bound solar gadget light up quite like this, and in fact, one version will glow in an array of colors. The solar cell is on a spike that you set elsewhere, and a wire runs back to the battery in the pot. The makers say you can get as much as 8 hours of glow time in the summer, and as much as 4 in the winter.
solar parked car ventilator image
Photo via Sunshine Solar

If you don’t want to return to a hot stuffy car, you could try out this solar powered ventilator. Somehow, with the window closed, it manages to clip on to your window and circulate fresh air into the car. Riiight. We’re guessing it actually just clips to your car window and whirrs away, pushing air around the car…nothing special, especially since the price tag is a relatively cheap $38. You might be better off sparing the plastic and just opening you car door and fanning your arms over the driver’s seat a few times before hopping in.

solar visor fan photo
Photo via Gadget.Brando.com

If you want to look strange while walking around with a strange solar gadget, stick this one on the brim of your hat and consider yourself a success. The hefty-looking solar powered fan clips on to your visor and blows air directly into your face. Makes sense for a really hot day, but it might be a little less dorky to use a hand-held solar powered fan. Or, how about just…a fan.
weird solar bug photo
Photo via Dvice

This little “Bugbut” named Nigel takes the cake for strange. Basically it’s a bunch of gadget pieces duct tapped together and powered by a solar cell. It climbs slowly around your desk, creeping out anyone who passes by. You can get one from Jenny, a.k.a. Tinyminds at Etsy. Definitely. Strange. Just keep it and the solar bug zapper a good distance apart.

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Pune entrepreneur’s solar cap to keep you cool

This unusual cap uses the sun’s scorching heat to keep you cool. Improvising on a Chinese design, Pune-based entrepreneur Vivek Bhatia has successfully manufactured a solar energy-powered mini fan, which actually provides comfort on a hot day.

The fan with plastic blades is fitted on the cap’s bill. A miniature solar panel, fixed on the crown, generates a five-volt supply to power the fan as soon as one steps out into the sun.

Bhatia who created the fan this April said that although similar solar fan caps are made by some Chinese manufacturers, his device has a solar panel that covers a larger area and thus generates more power for a better fan.

“The blades are made of plastic and are completely safe for the person wearing it. We have added a tiny switch that can be used to turn the fan on or off,” he said.

A materials manager with various firms for nearly three decades, the fact that Bhatia has sold nearly 1,000 of his ‘Solar fan caps’ at Rs400 each suggests that it’s more than a novelty.

According to the innovator, the fan generates enough air to keep one’s face and forehead cool when out in the sun.

“Since there is no question of batteries, the fan doesn’t need any charging. The cap is functional even on partly cloudy days. We’ve been receiving a lot of orders from humid cities like Kolkata where we’ve created an entire customer base out of word-of-mouth publicity,” he said.

Bhatia first got into product development with ‘No Nap’, an anti-drowsiness device meant to prevent accidents caused by sleepy drivers.

His fledgling firm Fuel Saver India, based in Sanewadi in Aundh, is dedicated to creating gadgets that run on renewable energy, mainly solar energy. He is assisted by his wife in packaging, dispatching and following up orders.

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India’s solar power capacity to surge

If all goes according to plan, India’s solar power capacity will grow six-fold to touch 300 MW by the end of this year, even as several enthusiastic states are commissioning solar power plants. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra are among states where solar projects are set to be commissi

oned in the latter half of 2011.

NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), the nodal agency to purchase solar power from independent producers, had last October signed MoUs with 16 developers to set up 84 MW capacity solar projects under the migration scheme to Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).

This January, it signed MoUs with another 30 developers to set up 620 MW capacity solar projects under the first batch of the phase 1 of JNNSM. Besides this, states such as Gujarat and Karnataka are pursuing solar projects on their own.

“There could be approximately 200-300 MW of solar capacity installed, but there are no guarantees. It all depends on whethera companies can get financing and execute,” said Ameet Shah, co-chairman, Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd.

Wind power has added 2,000 MW to the National Grid, but solar power has added a measly 40MW till now. The Centre expects 250MW to be added in the current year.

Major business houses such as Mahindra, Videocon and MoserBaer have already entered the solar sector. Shah felt there will be half a dozen companies with 50-100 MW capacity by the end of 2012. The Centre aims to build 1,000 MW solar power capacity by 2013 while; 22,000 MW is the target for 2022 under JNNSM.

“India’s solar market is still in a nascent stage with both national and state policies only recently beginning to take shape,” said Raj Prabhu, managing partner, Mercom Capital Group, a clean energy consulting firm.

“The second and third quarters of 2011 will be significant as financial and project deadlines become due,” he said.

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