Solar gadgets

Solar gadgets are portable devices that use one or more photovoltaic cells to fulfill their energy needs. While some low-power devices like calculators and watches can easily run on a solar cell alone, most solar-powered devices use the solar technology to trickle charge the internal battery. With increasing environmental awareness and improving power efficiency in devices, solar gadgets are rapidly gaining in popularity. They are not only environmentally friendly, but also look cool and in most cases need no external power supply whatsoever to keep going. This saves both money and time, since the devices needs to spend less (or no) time connected to the power grid. By being completely off-grid, solar gadgets add an additional degree of freedom, style and futurism to devices that are often already cool and useful themselves. Are you ready to go solar?

How solar gadgets work

Although some stationary devices use regular ‘stiff’ solar panels, most solar gadgets use a versatile type of solar panels called the ‘thin-film solar panel’. Specially prepared varieties of silicon are able to capture the sunlight and turn it into an electric current. Contrary to the crystalline silicon used in regular solar panels, the amorphous silicon in a thin-film solar panel has no preferred cleavage planes and can thus bend to a certain degree without breaking. By depositing a very thin film of the material on a plastic substrate, a bendable solar cell is obtained, which can easily be fitted on a power-consuming device. The power obtained by the solar cell is called photovoltaic energy. Since solar cells supply direct current (DC), batteries can be charged with no additional steps, allowing for very compact assemblies. Solar energy is clean, silent and infinitely renewable. At least, for the coming 5 billion years.

Types of solar gadgets

There are many types and models of solar gadgets. Although impossible to list them all, we will discuss some of the more common and useful gadgets around: