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Tag Archives: Solar-Power

The Future Is Here: Solar Freaking Roadways!

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Imagine if we could convert all the roadways in America into a giant solar panel that provides enough energy for every household in the country. Just imagine. No more nuclear plants. No more coal plants. Greenhouse gas reductions of 75%. Sounds cool, right? Well, the good folks at Solar Roadways have already done that, and they’re trying to get the product adopted by the relevant authorities.

Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks (250,000 pounds). These Solar Road Panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds… literally any surface under the sun. A nationwide system could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole (http://solarroadways.com/numbers.shtml).

They have many other features as well, including: heating elements to stay snow/ice free, LEDs to make road lines and signage, and attached Cable Corridor to store and treat stormwater and provide a “home” for power and data cables. EVs will be able to charge with energy from the sun (instead of fossil fuels) from parking lots and driveways and after a roadway system is in place, mutual induction technology will allow for charging while driving.

The possibilities this system affords are mind blowing, and too varied to all list here. But you should know this is no oddball backyard project. Solar Roadways have been extensively tested, with funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. It’s a real product, and if the stars align and politicians can get their heads removed from their behinds, maybe, just maybe this can become a thing.

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[ IndieGogo Campaign ] AND [ Company Page ]

Diffus Solar Handbag Embraces Solar Cells As A Design Pattern

Diffus Solar Handbag (Image courtesy Diffus)
By Andrew Liszewski

Instead of just slapping a thin, flexible solar cell onto the outside of a messenger bag, Diffus Design has taken a far more subtle approach with their Solar Handbag. Working with designers from the Alexandra Institute and Swiss embroidery specialists Forster Rohne, Diffus has integrated 100 miniaturized monocrystalline silicon ‘sequins’ onto each bag in such a way that they simply look like a repeating design pattern with their exposed wiring. Not as distinct as the L & V that many people lust after, but far more useful.

Diffus Solar Handbag (Images courtesy Diffus)

During the day, with enough exposure to the sun, the bag can generate enough electricity to recharge a mobile device like a smartphone. But when not being immediately harvested the energy that’s generated is stored in a lithium ion battery that remains hidden away inside the purse. And at night a network of fiber optic lighting inside the bag will also draw on the battery providing a soft, diffuse glow making it easier to find things in the dark. Pricing and availability info haven’t been announced yet, but it’s safe to assume it isn’t going to be cheap unless you can charge enough gadgets to make it pay for itself in the very long run.

[ Diffus Solar Handbag ] VIA [ eCouterre ]

GSR-110B Mobile Power Unit With A Retractable Solar Panel

GSR-110B Mobile Solar Unit (Image courtesy DigInfo TV)
By Andrew Liszewski

What a difference a weekend can make. I came across this mobile power unit last week and kind of put it on the back burner, but after the events that have unfolded in Japan over just the past few days it seems like it could be one of the most useful tools for many parts of the country. Created by OS, a Japanese company with an expertise in retractable projector screens, the GSR-110B uses flexible solar cells developed by Fuji Electric Systems to create a mobile power unit that can be deployed in just seconds.

At just 3kg the GSR-110B is lightweight and easy to transport, but thanks to its retractable solar panel it can be set up anywhere, providing up to 40W off power in the right weather conditions. (16W directly from the solar panel itself, plus an additional 24W from the unit’s built-in rechargeable battery.) That’s enough juice to keep a netbook running for about two hours, and is definitely enough to charge a mobile phone. But if you need even more power, two of the units can be connected together for a combined output of 80W when needed. The GSR-110B started shipping back in January, and sells for ~$730 (¥60,000).

[ OS GSR-110B Mobile Solar Unit ] VIA [ DigInfo TV ]

Logitech Releases A Solar Powered Keyboard

Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 (Image courtesy Logitech)
By Chris Scott Barr

When was the last time that you changed the battery in a calculator? There’s a good chance that unless you have a really fancy one, you don’t ever change the batteries on your calculator. They use so little power that a simple solar panel suffices. When Logitech released their MK700 keyboard last August, I was surprised to see that it would last up to 3 years on a single pair of batteries (the one I reviewed is still running strong on that first set) and wondered if they couldn’t somehow recharge the batteries using solar power. Apparently they can.

The company announced their latest peripheral, the Wireless Solar Keyboard K750, which, as you might have guessed, is solar powered. The keyboard features two sets of solar panels which will gather energy whenever there is light. On a full charge it can last up to three months in complete darkness. You’ll be able to download an app that tells you how much light the device is getting, and how long the battery is estimated to last. I’m not quite sure that I’d be ready to spend $80 on a first-gen solar keyboard, but I do love the idea of not having to change out batteries.

[ Logitech ] VIA [ Gearlog ]

Sol Watch Embraces Its Solar Cell As A Design Element

Sol Watch (Image courtesy the MoMA Store)
By Andrew Liszewski

Solar powered watches aren’t a new concept, but these days the solar cells are integrated into the faces so you wouldn’t know they were solar powered just by looking at them. That’s not the case with this Sol Watch available from the MoMA Store though. It’s got a tiny solar cell placed front and center below the watch’s inverted LCD display, extending the battery life by an additional 50%. The band and case are made of polyurethane making them water-resistant, and while I like the design, $100 is a tough sell for such basic functionality. I better just order two.

[ Sol Watch ]

EnSol Could Turn Your Ordinary Windows Into Solar Panels

By Chris Scott Barr

Utilizing solar power to reduce the amount of money you’re spending on electricity is a great idea, at least in theory. However, costs associated with purchasing the equipment, installation and even finding the space for the panels can deter one from actually following through with such a plan. One company is hoping to change this by offering a metal nanopartical spray that would turn your windows into solar panels.

The spray would add a slight tint to your windows, which if you’re like me, is actually a bonus (at least for the bedroom window). You would even be able to coat the outer walls of your building to essentially turn the whole house into a giant solar panel. They are making progress on this design, and hope to have it on the market sometime in 2016.

[ EnSol ] VIA [ Dvice ]

Jetyo HDV-T900 Camcorder With Dual Solar Cells

Jetyo HDV-T900 Camcorder (Images courtesy The Red Ferret Journal)
By Andrew Liszewski

Worrying about battery life isn’t an issue when it comes to the HDV-T900 camcorder from Jetyo. In addition to running off a set of 4xAAA batteries which can pretty much be replaced anywhere on Earth, it also features a set of flip out solar cells that can be used to recharge those batteries, if they’re of the rechargeable persuasion. Unfortunately that’s the only feature that makes this camcorder stand out in an already crowded market, but it seems to have all the bases covered.

A 5.0MP CMOS sensor can capture videos up to 1280x720P in size at 30fps, and still images can be captured up to 12MP in size if you can live with a lot of software interpolation. It comes with 32MB of built-in memory, so you’ll want to make sure you have an SD card (sizes up to 32GB supported) handy if you actually intend to record any video. There’s also an HDMI connection for hooking the camcorder directly to your HDTV, and USB for downloading pictures and videos to your PC. Now I’m sure the HDV-T900 isn’t the most amazing piece of video hardware to come out of China, but according to the Red Ferret Journal it will only set you back about $88.

[ Jetyo HDV-T900 Camcorder ] VIA [ The Red Ferret Journal ]

Solar Ivy Grows Closer To Production

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By Evan Ackerman

This is some ivy any green blooded duck squeezer would be proud to have covering their house, and not just because it’s not an invasive species. Solar Ivy is solar powered, just like real ivy, but rather than growing out of control and choking out all other endemic vegetation, it passes electricity on to you (yay!). Gigantic solar panels are expensive, but having a whole bunch of smaller solar panels is cheaper to produce, cheaper to replace, and can still put out enough power to make a dent in your energy bill: a 4′ x 7′ strip of Solar Ivy can produce up to 85 watts.

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In order to get Solar Ivy into production, the company (Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology) is looking for a grant Pepsi ‘Refresh’ grant (such things exist) of some $50,000. This is one of those rare occasions where a really cool concept has an actual chance of becoming commercial reality… Right now, they’re ranked #32, and they’ll need to get into the top tend to get funding. You can vote for Solar Ivy here.

[ SMIT ] VIA [ Core77 ]

Scosche Juices Up Your Gadgets With Solar Power

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By Chris Scott Barr

Everyone that owns an iPhone is looking for a way to make their battery stretch a little bit longer. Sure, my 3GS lasts longer than the previous models, but after a long day of solid use I still find myself doing anything I can to conserve what little battery life it has left. There are a lot of solutions out there, but one can never have too many choices. Scosche has a new one that’ll recharge your iPhone twice over.

The solBAT II is a backup battery that can be charged either via USB or using solar power. It features both a suction mount for soaking up solar rays through a window and a carabineer mount if you want to attach it to a backpack. The battery has a 1500mA capacity and a 5V output, so it’ll charge your phone at the same rate as a standard wall outlet (or your PC).

If you’re constantly running low on battery life for your iPhone (or any other device that charges via USB) and you’re into the “green” scene, then this is worth checking out. It’s only going to set you back $29.99 and is on sale now.

[ Scosche ]