July 31, 2009
Whole Earth Catalog Lives On
Stewart Brand launched The Whole Earth Catalog in 1968. If you were fortunate enough to have grabbed a copy of any of them, you learned early how to help the planet. For example, we learned of an early solar washing machine that one could make with a used barrel with detergent and water. Add clothes, seal the barrel, place it in the back of a truck, go about your normal day, and the sun's rays heated the water while the agitation cleaned your garments. Of course, you still had to rinse, but no system is perfect.
We were pleased to see that the WEC lives on, in its original catalogs for sale, tools, words of advice and website. Take some time to read the original, contribute to the site and help keep Mr. Brand's vision going.
Via Whole Earth Catalogs
July 31, 2009
T'Sou-ke First Nation Goes Green in Vancouver Island
The T'Sou-ke First Nation, located in the southern end of Vancouver Island, plans to go solar. They have erected a 75 kW solar energy plant on their Reserve to power 30 buildings. The group recently met in a solar gatherering to teach others what they feel is important. Chief Gordon Planes says it best,
"It's good to be a part of using the gifts that the creator gave us in helping us to take care of Mother Earth. It is now appropriate that First Nations take the lead in demonstrating how to live without fossil fuels once again."
Via T'sou-ke Nation
July 30, 2009
Travel With Pluggage
Ohad Folman designed the Pluggage as a final project at ITP-NYC. Kinetic energy is captured from the wheels rotating via a generator/turbine and converted into electrical energy while a flexible solar power soaks up rays from the sun. The energy is then fed into a Duracell PowerSource Mobile 100 battery pack. Walking around for an hour can provide 45 minutes for a laptop, 9 hours on a cellphone or about 4 days of operation on a BlackBerry.
July 30, 2009
Westinghouse Solar Mosaic Garden Lights
Westinghouse's Solar Mosaic Garden Lights will recharge by day and give you and those potato bugs a wonderful Zen feeling at night. Each has a 600 mAh Ni-Cd battery that is good for 8 hours and the 4 lights wil change color displayed through their mosaic glass lenses. Say it with us, "Ooohhhmmm."
Via Westinghouse Solar Mosaic Garden Lights
July 29, 2009
Suntrica SolarStrap - Portable Power
Finland's Suntrica has a solution to using renewable power when on the go for 5V devices like cell phones, MP3 players, cams and GPS devices. Their SolarStrap can be placed on clothing or bags and is portable so it can be transferred from one item to another. At a minute size of 144 x 97 x 25mm when folded, it adds a mere 60g of weight. Contact Suntrica if you are interested in either purchase or product incorporation.
Earth4Energy - Solar Miracle or Scam?
We get slightly suspicious when we see something that boasts "as seen on TV" and features a website that practically glows in the dark. Nonetheless, we checked out Earth4Energy. Michael Harvey says that he can reduce your power bill by 80% (or eliminate it.) He claims that his kit can help you build solar panels for less than $200.00. It also gives tips on how to acquire a battery for free and how to create your own windmill. Included in the kit is step-by-step video instructions to do all of the above plus a bonus of IRS Tax rebate forms and free updates for life.
The E4E kit has been marked down from $99.99 to $49.97 (the claim is "get in while it's cheap") and we were only slightly amused that when we tried to close the site we saw this:
July 28, 2009
Devotec Solar Sound Speaker
Devotec Industries has a new Solar Sound Speaker that is light, portable and has Bluetooth A2DP and AVRCP support. Featuring dual 2W drivers and a 1500mAh battery, it will run for 8 hours on a single charge and can be recharged in 12 - 24 hrs. by sun or 4 hours when plugged into your USB port. At a size of 16.5 x 5.5 x 5.5cm and a weight of 260g, the speaker was designed for iPhones or music players via its 3.5mm audio jack. The SS is ready to hit the beach for $96.00.
RC Portable Radio - Just in Case
You never know when that next tornado or hurricane will appear, so be ready with this American Red Cross AM/FM/Weatherband Portable Radio with flashlight and cell phone charger. Available in red or white, the solar-powered device with Ni-MH battery can also be powered with a dynamo crank or AC adapter. The FR 150 radio has a built-in cell phone charger, flashlight and 3.5mm earphone jack. At a size of 126 x 60 x 46 mm, it comes with a handy preparedness guide and card to order cell phone tips.
Via Red Cross AM/FM/Weatherband Portable Radio
July 27, 2009
Solar Hybrid Cell Phone by NCC DoCoMo
NTT DoCoMo has developed a Solar Hybrid Cell Phone that can be charged by the sun in addition to electricity. The series SH-08A is waterproof and features a 3.0" main display (480x854 pixels,) a HSDPA of 7.2Mbps, an 8MP CCD autofocus cam and SDHC card support of up to 16GB. This is definitely not the phone to give to a chatty kidlet. Ten minutes of recharging gives only about a minute of talk time. The phone will debut this September in Japan.
Via NTT DoCoMo Press Release
Tuvalu Tries to Save Itself With Solar Power
The Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu has declared that they will try to run on 100% clean power by 2020. They have started by building a solar power system that now supplies the capital of Funafute with 5% of its energy. The 40kW system was built on the roof of one of their football stadiums and has already replaced about 4,500 gallons of diesel fuel and reduced their carbon footprint by 50 tons. All told the project will cost about $20 million to reach their goal.
Their efforts are even more admirable when you consider that Tuvalu is one of the places most affected by global warming. Its 10,000 inhabitants fear the sea level rise in coral atolls may put an end to their very existence on the tiny islands.
Via Tree Hugger
July 24, 2009
Solar Powered Flashlight Good for Decades
Never worry about getting lost in the dark again with the Hybrid Solar-Powered Flashlight. Available in a 2-pack, each has a 1W 2x LED. The handy device has 11 continuous years of burn time or 22 years when used only at night. It doesn't need to be stored in the sun, holds a charge for 3 years, is waterproof in a depth of up to 80' and floats. The flashlights come fully charged and have emergency backup batteries (not that we think you will need them.)
Via Hybrid Solar-Powered Flashlight
Ecofriend - Excellent Source of Info
We think that not only should Solar Snob find all the best solar solutions and gadgets on the planet, but we should also let you know the sites we feel deserve special attention. Last week we told you about groSolar and Ecofriend is another that needs mention. They are on top of everything green, from alternate energy sources to transportation and solar devices. There are blogs on solar warming as well as recycling. Catch the site and expect to spend some time there.
July 23, 2009
Plan to Attend Back 2 Business Green Forum
We are a little early here, but make some plans to attend the B2B (Back 2 Business) Green Forum this October 26-27 in Baltimore, Maryland if you are in the area. You will view services, programs and equipment and perhaps find some answers to your environmental questions. There will be speakers, exhibits and lots of information to make your life a richer shade of green. By the way, if you would like to get involved as a speaker or exhibitor, contact B2B.
Via B2B Forum
Greensburg Builds Eco-Homes From Tornado Ruins
When a tornado hit Greensburg, Kansas, in 2007, it destroyed almost the entire town. Thinking green, they decided to rebuild with the environment in mind. The nonprofit GreenTown is going to erect 12 eco-homes that they feel will be a "living laboratory." Each showcases different techniques when being built and the first is the Silo Eco-Home. Used for their office, the 2,000 sq. ft. home will have a 2kW solar electric system, passive ventilation and water saving technology that includes a rainwater harvesting cistern. The walls and roof will be constructed with recycled crushed concrete from the storm itself. Check out their progress via the link and if you are in the area, witness it personally.
Via Greensburg GreenTown
Rainbows Made by Solar Power
Kikkerland always comes up with the most creative toys and their Solar Powered Rainbow Maker is no exception. Stick it to your window via suction cup and its Swarovski crystal rotates by solar power and refracts sunlight to make rainbow patterns. At a size of 6 x 2 x 1", the David Dear design is sure to improve the mood of even the crabbiest friend or relative.
Via Kikkerland Solar Powered Rainbow Maker
July 22, 2009
Pure Makes Water Potable
Designer Emilian Dan Cartis has found a solution to turn polluted water to something usable with Pure. Inspired by evaporation and condensation in leaves, the solar gadget won the BraunPrize in 2003. Considering that 71% of the planet is water and only 2% is potable, Pure has a lot of work to do.
GE to Literally Bring Good Things to Light With SmartGrid
The ambitious General Electric has a plan to allow homeowners to cut back their energy consumption to zero by 2015. (We told you it was ambitious.) The SmartGrid project combines solar power and/or wind turbines, energy efficient appliances and on-site power storage. GE's Home Energy Manager, which will retail for less than $250.00, gives detailed data on usage and will manage all appliances by turning them off when not in use. Some of the in-home products will be available this year, with more to reach the market next year.
Via GE Ecomagination
July 21, 2009
Total Eclipse to Occur Tomorrow Morning
As we are always finding something interesting to report regarding solar power, we beg your indulgence as we note its antithesis. If you are lucky enough to be certain areas, you will see a Total Solar Eclipse tomorrow morning. The shadowing starts in India, then goes through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China. It then curves south across the Pacific Ocean and a partial eclipse can be seen in eastern Asia, Indonesia and other parts of the Pacific. By the way, remember not to look directly at it.
Via NASA Eclipse Web Site
Santa Monica Restricts Solar Panel Installation
Santa Monica seems to be ashamed of those who decide to go green and want their townsfolk to erect panels that will be minimally visible from the front of the street. Their city council voted to restrict the installation of solar panels to "specific height limits, limitations on installation in the required side and rear yard setbacks, and restrictions on visibility." An exception is made if the energy production would be decreased by more than 10% or if the cost would be too high.
We think that placing them on roofs doesn't quite have the same effect psychologically. Driving by a house/building where the panels are visible indicates that its inhabitants are proud that they are helping to save the planet.
Via City of Santa Monica
Sunforce Garden Lights Provide Illumination, Safety
Sunforce's Solar Garden Lights need no wiring or batteries, of course. They will turn on at dusk automatically and charge during the day. Maintenance free, they run on amporphous silicon cells. Available in a pack of 10, this is an inexpensive answer to keeping you safe by lighting your front yard or preventing one of those falls that results in you not being able to get back up.
July 20, 2009
Striking Solar CD/MP3 Player
This lollypop shaped solar CD/MP3 player was designed by Nature et Decouvertes. Feed it for light for 4-5 hrs and you will get about 10 hours of music in return. It is equipped with 2.5W stereo speakers and has the option of rechargeable lithium batteries for gloomy days. The player will set you back €99,00 ($137.00.)
Via Nature et Decouvertes (translated)
1BOG Turns On Neighborhoods With Solar Power
Here's a way to reduce your carbon footprint with your entire neighborhood. Sign up with 1BOG (One Block Off the Grid) and they will give all of you a discount on solar energy. The company can turn houses into solar homes by evaluations and negotiating with the best businesses. 1BOG is free to join and if your city isn't listed and you would like to participate, you can volunteer to turn you and your neighbors green. And don't forget to tell a friend (or several) about them.
July 17, 2009
OwiKit 6 in 1 Educational Solar Kit
We figure one can never be too young to go green so we figure both adults and kids will dig this 6 in 1 Mini Solar kit by OwiKit. There are 21 snap together parts that will create an airboat, windmill, puppy or one of 2 airplanes. The kit has a solar panel output of 75mA, a motor that runs 12000 rpm/DC 1.2V and a solar cell with a life of 3-5 years.
Neoluxiim Solar E-ink Display
Neoluxiim has come up with an e-ink display, powered by the sun, referred to as IIM (Ink-In-Motion.) While there is not much information available as yet to a specific product, we will try to keep up with any companies that try to incorporate the new technology. The company is already distributing panels for homes and businesses. They are easy to install, portable and work under standard outdoor lighting of up to 400 lux.
UV Monkey Indicates When to Recharge
The UV Monkey is clever enough to check levels to ascertain when to charge any of your solar gadgets. It changes through shades of purple with a darker shade depicting a higher UV level. Attatch to your keychain and it will indicate 4 different ranges of the UV Index. Of course, it also lets you know when to grab the sunscreen. At a minute 1.5", you can get yours for a mere $9.99.
Via Think Geek
July 16, 2009
i/o Phoenix ONE Data Center to Go Solar
The 538,000 sq. ft. roof on the i/o Phoenix ONE Data Center will soon become a 4.5 Megawatt solar roof. Phase one of installing the 5,000 solar panels will begin in January and should generate 500kW. After four additional phases during 2010, the total 4.5 mW capacity will be reached.
Via Tree Hugger
Giant Sunflowers Promote Toyota Prius
How do you help promote the eco-friendly Prius? (Not that it needs more hype.) Toyota planted 5 oversized free sunflower charging stations that also have WiFi service. Each can seat 2 people and have solar panels on the petals and stem base. The first are in Boston's Prudential Plaza through July 19. Others will be placed in different parts of the world for 4 months. The car company will also have solar ventilation bus shelters that show how the panels on Prius' solar roof will cool the car.
Shine on With Solar LED Flashlight
Keep this handy solar 0.5 x 3 x 2" LED Flashlight on your keychain, rest it on your dashboard, window sill or bright light when not in use and you will always be able to follow the light, Carole Ann.
Via Solar Flashlights
July 15, 2009
SUNN DIY Solar Car
Design your own SUNN solar car and help save the planet. The company offers plans and assemblies that you can custom design. The vehicle can be recharged via the sun or by being plugged into a household current. Once it is complete and fully charged, it will travel up to 25mph for 20 to 30 miles and is street legal with windshield wiper, disc brakes, seat belts, turn signals and lights. The pre-welded kit costs $5,500 and the only extra expense is the batteries. Contact SUNN if you want to reduce your carbon
Toyota Prius Cooled by Solar Module
The Toyota Prius, the eco-friendly car, gets friendlier all the time. Kyocera Corporation is providing multi-crystalline silicon solar cells that will control the car's ventilation system. It does so by using the electricity generated from the module to cool even when the car is parked. That means not having to get into an overheated car in the summer if you cannot park in the shade.
Overland in the Sun's Trek to Africa
Beginning in September, Gwyn, Ryan and team plan to drive from London to Cape Town in an effort to raise money for SolarAid, a group that hopes to fight climate change and global poverty with the use of solar power. Utilizing a rebuilt 1989 Toyota Landcruiser 60 that is equipped with solar panels, Overland in the Sun's mission is to increase awareness of the problems in Africa that are the most affected by climate change.
Want to get involved? You can follow their travels on Twitter, donate to the cause or even meet up with them if you are in the area.
Via Overland in the Sun
July 14, 2009
Solar Impulse to Hit the Skies in 2011
The Solar Impulse, first unveiled in May, has plans to fly around the world in 2011. Think leisurely as the Swiss made plane travels at an average speed of 43.5 mph at a max altitude of 39,300 feet. It has a 262.5 ft. wingspan and its pilot, Bertrand Piccard (you read that right,) will wear a symbiotic suit. It allows him to sleep whenever needed and if there is a problem during the flight, will wake him up.
The cells on the wing will conserve power for 7 - 8 hours a day and the plan is that batteries will power the Impulse at night. Because that technology is not yet available, a test flight is planned for this year with a smaller prototype. Check out their site and be amazed, truly amazed.
Via Solar Impulse
Obama Urges Michigan to Build Solar
President Obama showed up in Warren, Michigan today to speak to students at Macomb Community College. Aside from speaking about changes in education (increased Pell grants and retraining for those who lost their jobs recently in the auto industry,) he also spoke about how the state should start training for and produce more devices "to build a better electricity grid." Included were wind turbines and solar panels. His exact words, "Michigan, you know bad weather. You need to weatherize. " Amen to that.
UVSunsense Wristband, Find the Shade
Summer is the time of carnivals, state fairs and other fun excursions, so while you are strapping on one of those paper bracelets that lets you and your kids ride the rollercoaster 85 times, remember to add a UVSunSense Wristband. When used with a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, it will change colors so that you know when it is time to stop riding and go for the corn dog and brew. Each package comes with 7 wristbands.
Via UVSunSense Wristband
July 13, 2009
MIT Produces Heliotropic Solar Panels
While most solar systems have panels that use electronic control systems and motors to convert the power to energy, a team of engineering students at MIT used temperature differences to change the properties of the cells. Inspired by heliotropic plants that move in the direction of the sun, their project earned them first place and $100,000 in MIT's Making and Designing Materials Engineering Contest (MADMEC.) The Heliotrope team placed panels on top of a bridge that curved upwards at the light beamed down on it. They used materials such as aluminum and steel which they say will be cheaper and more accessible in developing nations.
Via Next Energy News
Oregon Scientific to Create Solar Line
Oregon Scientific has just released their Climate Control Weather Station. This is it first in their new line of energy savers. With a built-in solar panel, it monitors temperature and humidity by remote wireless sensors in up to 4 different location both in and outside. The device needs only an 8 hour charge for operation of up to 3 months, has a radio controlled clock and calendar and is available for pre-order now. In September, the company will add two more products, another weather station that will display an iconic future weather forecast and Atomic time, and a more compact version.
Via Oregon Scientific
July 11, 2009
Thanks for Tweeting!
Many thanks to those of you who came on board early with us on Twitter. We hope to return the favor by featuring many of you on Solar Snob. Please keep in touch when you have new products, services or events that you would like us to mention.
July 10, 2009
groSolar Provides Solar Energy Solutions
GRO was one of the first companies to provide sustainable, clean energy products and services. Global Resource Options was established in the 80s in Strafford, Vermont by Jeff and Dori Wolfe. groSolar was launched in 2006. Read through their timeline to see what incredible strides they have made in the last few years.
One of the most impressive moves is their groSolar Employee Green Benefit Program that will allow solar energy solutions to be added to company's employee benefits packages. Not only will it show a commitment to going green, it allows buying solar products and services for less than retail. We call that very
If you are interested in finding out more about that program or adding solar to your personal life, there are events and trade shows that you can attend, sign up for their e-newletter, or request an on-site evaluation.
India to Utilize Solar Power for Rural Areas
India is planning on using solar power to electrify rural areas. Prime Minister of New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, shown here, said that although the cost is currently too expensive, their National Solar Mission will look into a less costly means of energy that will include storage and uninterrupted flow. Offering incentives to companies to help develop the new power structure, the government is hoping to get remote areas going in the next few years.
Via Business Standard
The Greenest County Fair On Earth
This year's Marin County Fair was truly green. With 40% of the power provided by solar panels and a huge photovoltaic array, visitors were treated to an all electric auto show, which included a Tesla and classic cars refitted with all-electric transmissions, a solar powered carousel with LED display and a Ferris wheel to catch all the action from above. The fair, which ran July 1 - 5, featured a water efficient edible garden, "environmental magic," earth-friendly attractions and free concerts accompanied by more LED lights.
Via Marin Fair
July 9, 2009
BigBelly Eats More, Regurgitates Less Often
Pay attention, NYC. Clever Philadephia has installed 500 BigBelly garbage cans. Instead of being emptied about 20 times a week like conventional ones, the BigBelly compacts the trash and needs to be emptied only 5 times a week since it holds up to 8 times as much. This means only 8 workers are needed instead of 33. Even better, the devices automatically contact the Streets Dept. HQ to let them know when they are full. The city estimates that they will save about $12.9 million in the next ten years.
Via Big Belly Solar
Sunsei Solar Vent - Day/Night Solar Powered Vent
Solar vents are all the rage, and this one in stainless steel provides 24 hours a day of silent and reliable ventilation for hot or humid areas. Reduces condensation and heat build-up in your boat, RV, Cabin, shed and green house. This new stylish and aerodynamic Solarvent provides more than double the airflow of any similar sized solar vent.
At Sunsei 70440 Solar Vent Stainless Steel Day/Night Solar Powered Vent
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