Digital MarketingStrategiesGood Morning, Sunshine

Good Morning, Sunshine

Solar power is no longer the proprietary domain of marooned survivalists, crunchy granola-types, and off-the-gridders. Solar tech got a huge bounce from Y2K and the looming fear of a lights-out millennium. It's now becoming a part of mainstream living as sales are on an upsurge for personal solar gear.

by Yvonne Seng for Digital Living Today

Solar power is no longer the proprietary domain of marooned survivalists, crunchy granola-types, and off-the gridders. While trying to shed its novelty status and become part of mainstream living, solar tech got a huge bounce from Y2K and the looming fear of a lights-out millennium.

After the millennium hangover, sales are again on an upsurge for personal solar gear. This time, it’s from mainstream homeowners interested in energy efficiency. A practical and affordable niche for solar tech products is landscape and sensor security lights. Brookstone’s pavers offer an updated alternative to the solar-powered garden lanterns that have been around for years. Replace a few conventional sidewalk and driveway bricks with these pavers hooked to a 88w transformer and you have a soft, unobtrusive glow from sunset to dawn ($109.95 for 8-paver set, www.brookstone.com). And if you’ve given up on solar-powered security lights ’cause they’re always losing their juice, give the two-piece Optimum Placement Solar Sensor Light a try ($123.95 at www.hammacherschlemmer.com). The industrial-grade Siemens solar panel and its high capacity battery can store enough energy for up to 10 gray days without sun.

For that geek-chic look while you mow the lawn or weed the garden, try donning the Solar Safari Hat ($39, www.realgoods.com). With a miniature solar panel on top to power a small fan, this pith helmet gives new meaning to the term propeller head. Or, if you don’t want to part with your favorite baseball cap, clamp on a zippy little Solar Hat Fan ($8.95 from RealGoods) for the same cool effect.

For an anywhere energy boost, unzip the Sunwize Portable Energy System and place its face to the sun (www.realgoods.com, $369.00). This single-crystal, solar celled device delivers 3 to 18 volts of power for almost any of those portable electronic devices you can’t live without: laptops, cell phones, GPS units, radios, etc.

If you’re hankering for a Scout flashback without heading off to Pulau Tiga, check out BayGen’s line of battery-free radios (starting at $70). The iMac-ish transparent blue radios operate on both solar and hand-wound energy. Either wind them for 20 seconds for more than 30 minutes of AM-FM signal or set them in direct sun for unlimited playtime. Developed in South Africa as a low-cost, energy-efficient alternative for rural areas, they are steadily making their way downtown and into such upscale shops as Brookstone, as well as into vacation homes and family campsites everywhere. A wider range of BayGen products, including short-wave radios, laptop power generators, adapters and accessories, is available from RealGoods and JadeMountain (www.jademountain.com), online dispensers of solar lifestyle products.

Ooops…the alarm on my Casio Solar Watch (www.casio.com, $24.95) tells me it’s time to get off of my chaise and amble on over to the Sun Oven ($169, from RealGoods) to see if the tofu pups are done. Mmmmm…life is good living in the sun (ya know…if you apply the sun block with a paint roller and cover up like a Bedouin).

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