Cool solar gadgets

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Crowd funding is one of the most important new developments in recent years.  Websites like gofundme.com and kickstarter.com make it possible for anyone with a great idea to find investors to help make that idea a reality.  Investors don’t have to be wealthy anymore, either.  Crowd funding means thousands of people investing just a few dollars.  Besides accelerating technological development, crowd funding is also changing the way people invest.

With lower risk, people are more willing to invest in ideas that can change the world in a positive way, even if it means a smaller return on their investment.  People are also beginning to realize that sustainable energy is actually more important—and valuable—than money.  The time is rapidly approaching when no amount of money will be able to purchase clean air and water.

There are a few awesome new solar gadgets that crowdfunding has made possible in 2018.  One of them is Skylock, a solar powered bike lock with some amazing capabilities.  It was designed by a team that includes Jack Al-Kahwati, a former engineer for Boeing, who says “We wanted to take on the challenge of bringing cycling into the future.”

We think they succeeded.  The rechargeable battery is solar-powered.  In conjunction with a smartphone app, users can use their phones to lock and unlock their bikes, add other users, and receive theft alerts if their bike is handled.  It works with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Amazingly enough, if Skylock’s built-in accelerometer senses a severe impact, it can even alert emergency responders.  So many people believed in the value of this product that the project surpassed its original fund-raising goal.

The same is true of a new gadget called SunPort.  Just plug it into an electrical outlet, then plug your appliance into it.  SunPort then tracks the energy it uses and upgrades it to solar power using renewable energy certificates.  Not many people know about these certificates, even though they’ve been around for years.  A certificate gets produced for every megawatt-hour of solar energy that goes into the national power grid.  People can then buy certificates through their local utility.  However, each one represents more power than a typical individual uses in a month. That’s why they are purchased more often by commercial enterprises.

SunPort works with ReChoice, a non-profit that breaks the certificates down into smaller units called sun joulles that individuals can purchase more easily.   Each of the units that you use through SunPort applies a solar credit to your power bill.  This gadget is also an excellent way  to increase demand for solar power.  It’s designer, engineer Paul Droege, is excited that using it “hastens the time until we actually have a dominant renewable energy grid, instead of the grid we’ve got today that’s about seven eighths non-renewable.” An added benefit is that for every dollar ReChoice spends buying solar certificates, it donates a matching dollar to an endowment program that contributes towards installing solar panels.  SunPort pays for the certification process for the first year of use, and after that it’s just $20 per year to demand solar!

Another awesome invention that has been under development and may be ready to order by the end of 2018 are solar window blinds!  In fact, much like  the latest Tesla electric cars, hundreds of customers have already pre-ordered SolarGaps.  These blinds, which come in white, silver, and black, automatically track the sun and use it to generate solar energy while providing shade and privacy for your home.  The installation kit comes with an app that plugs into your home grid, making it possible to either control your blinds with your smartphone or have Google Home or Amazon Alexa do it for you.

There are a number of already existing solar powered gadgets that have been improved for 2018, including solar phone chargers, backpacks and generators.  There are even lots of fun new solar motion toys that make great long-lasting gifts–and they’re not all for kids, either.  The best feature of all these solar gadgets is that they make life healthier and more fun while respecting the planet that we all call home.

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