Looking for an easy way to integrate a little alternative energy into your holiday festivities? There are a lot of exciting solar products coming out of Asia these days, as several eastern countries have gotten the jump on the US in terms of R&D and product development. Which isn’t so good for the US’ current energy market, but it is good for solar energy enthusiasts! Why don’t you try a string of solar powered Christmas lights in your front yard? They turn themselves on automatically at dusk (if you want them too), similar to existing solar lawn lamps, they have solid light or blinking options, and they can easily be strung around fences, eaves, railings and wreaths to create a cheerful effect that’s also effortlessly green.
I have a set of white fairy style lights of this type, and they are great. Not having a yard, I simply place the receiver in the window each morning and come sunset, I have a 60-LED solar powered flashlight for late night reading that lasts several hours! They throw a surprising amount of light for their tiny size. If you’re interested in these or any other solar power accessories such as solar powered flashlights for emergency or off-grid use, head to ebay today and search for solar lights. Finally, sunshine you can hold in your hand!
“We are confident we can build everything up to ocean liners
and in fifty years time people will look back at boats of the
20th Century and they’ll say “where are the wings”?”
– Dr Robert Dane, CEO, Solar Sailor
Imagine a boat powered by the sun. Unlike the wind, which comes and goes with unpredictable ferocity, the sun makes a fairly easily scheduled appearance most days. Add wind power as a concentrated burst of energy when the sun doesn’t necessarily shine, and you’ve got a luxury ride. It simultaneously looks like a subway train and a transformer: it isn’t the lofty elegance of an old galleon, but it makes a fashion statement nonetheless!
The Sun Sailor has won numerous award for its intriguing design. It simply makes sense to marry the sun and sailing, and takes place under some of the least obstructed skies on earth. And there’s some big name support. The leader of the company is an ex-prime minister of Australia, and recently Solar Sailor was awarded a contract with the US navy developing unmanned vehicles.
Visit the Solar Sailor site here
Solar Roof Tiles
Here’s a really nicely executed concept hitting the research airwaves. Sebastian Braat, an Australian designer working on his graduate thesis, came up with a combination solar electric solar thermal roof tile that not only has up to 18% efficiency, but also is adaptable and looks really sleek.
You can more than power an average sized family home with only 200 tiles. That allows for more placement options to suit your situation, and there are plans to develop a variety of different styles. Mr. Braat concerns himself with “easing the power burden our housing estates are rapidly creating” in innovative and informative ways.
No word yet on cost, but file this one away in your “near future” pile.
Part of falling away from the grid involves rethinking your purchasing power. Instead of supporting Walmart, which imports a staggering 30% of all goods that enter through US ports, aim to create local relationships and to buy products that eliminate or minimize the “distance to table” effect which governs not only food but all your purchases. With the amazing power of the internet, “local” can be anywhere in the world: support an individual or team of craftsmen rather than mega corporations.
Ever since I ran into the founder of ILoveMiceElf.com, heard her speak about her organic hands-on approach to crafting bath products, and then ordered some of her creamy soaps, I’ve been in soap heaven. Most bath products are so heavily perfumed and are filled with glycerins and alcohols and ingredients I can’t pronounce. The natural products at this website, however, are hand-crafted using only natural materials that are so good you could almost eat them. Which you shouldn’t do: I have to tell you this because you may actually be tempted by some of their flavors. The cinnamon oatmeal soap is the best I’ve ever tried, anywhere. Very creamy, great scent, and exfoliating oatmeal throughout.
According to Ms. Green, the master craftswoman, she sought to create products using only natural ingredients that won’t cause allergic reactions and would appeal to even the most hard-core natural products users. And this devotion shows in each batch. Try it to believe.
I so need one of these! Oh, wait, no grass to mow. But you probably have some, and just look at this beauty! At $4,000, it’s no yard-sale find, but with built-in sensors that detect yard obstacles, it reduces the amount of work you have to do down to simply setting the thing out and turning it on. Swimming devotees will recognize this approach as like that of the pool Simon, and it also falls close to the Roomba technology. And of course, like many products featured here, it’s totally powered by the sun. With one of these and a few free hours to watch it wander, you might actually be HAPPY when your spouse tells you to mow the lawn!
Trev Two-Seat Lithium ion Electric Travel for 2¢ a Mile (story here)
“Staff and students at the University of South Australia have designed and built an amazing vehicle called the Trev. Its features include:
* two comfortable seats, since more than 90% of urban trips have only one or two people in the car;
* enough luggage space for at least two overnight bags;
* 300 kg mass—because using a 2.5 tonne vehicle for commuting is ridiculous;
* energy-efficient tyres, brakes and suspension;
* a clean, quiet and efficient electric drive system;
* compliance with road safety and worthiness regulations;
* good performance, with a top speed of 120 km/h; and
* 150 km of city driving before the car must be recharged.
Most importantly, it uses less than 1/5 of the energy required by a conventional car, and can be recharged using electricity from clean, renewable sources such as solar and wind.”
I’d love to see this car next to a standard commuter vehicle. It’s like a tofu dog on wheels in a world of burgers. Nice though.