Four Gift-Giving Gadget Ideas for the Renewable Energy Tech-lover

Holidays are here and always enjoys taking time to point out some renewable energy gadgets that have come across our desks. From biomass stoves to solar lights, your renewable energy tech-lover will not be disappointed with one of these gifts.

Biomass Camp Stove that Charges Your Phone

We covered the BioLite CampStove in 2013 and we are still impressed. You drop in some biomass (twigs, pine cones, wood pellets) to get a fire going and in addition to generating heat for warmth or cooking, the device generates electricity via a thermoelectric generator, which powers a fan that creates airflow to improve combustion. That electricity also goes to a USB port on the side of the stove from which you can charge your device. For those with bigger needs, BioLite also has a larger model that can be used for cooking large pots. The one we have even came with a grill.

In the two years since we first discovered Biolite the company has expanded into the developing world. One blog post on the company’s website tells the story of a woman in Uganda who sells boiled tap water and charges her customers phones at the same time using the Biolite.  Pretty impressive.

The device is great for outdoor enthusiasts, too, especially if you can’t find enough sun to power up your solar charger. It’s even available through Amazon Prime so if you still need a gift idea, head on over there.

Credit: Biolite

Portable Solar Charger

I’m sure readers have noticed that there are thousands of solar charging devices on the market today. We haven’t had any to test in the office but EnergyPlex might be onto something with the Kickr IV. The company says it is flexible, durable, and lightweight at less than one pound.

The 6.5-watt solar charger uses CIGs solar cells and according to EnergyPlex it’s powerful enough to charge mobile electronics at the same rate as a wall outlet. The company also offers a few pretty cool looking models of lithium-ion battery packs that you could charge up with the solar charger so you’d have some power when the sun goes down. The battery packs received a 2015 Red Dot award in product design. The Red Dot Design Award is an international product design and communication design prize awarded by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany.

Credit: EnergPlex

Solar Energy Itself

Here’s another way to use solar energy without installing anything. The SunPort. We profiled this cool gadget last summer when it was launching its kickstarter campaign, the $75,000 goal for which it surpassed raising more than $120,000 before the campaign closed. Here’s what the company says about itself:

You don’t need to own a power plant to use power, and you don’t need to own an airplane to travel by air. Why should you need to own solar panels to use solar energy? You don't.

For many people access is better than ownership, so why own it if you can just use it? And solar energy is quite affordable, even if the solar panels aren’t.

If enough of us are willing to pay just an extra penny or two per day for solar energy, we can create massive consumer demand for more of it. And, most importantly, demand for solar energy can only be met by building more solar installations.

More solar use = more solar demand -----> more solar built

Demand for solar energy is the best way to attract substantially more investment for solar projects. More solar investment means more solar panels feeding the grid, which displaces non-renewable power sources.

By using an internet-enabled SunPort, as soon as you plug it in, the device tracks how much power you use and upgrades your power to solar by purchasing solar RECs (renewable energy credits).  You pay a subscription fee to match the amount of solar you want to use.  The company equates use of the SunPort to buying organic food or fair-trade coffee, you do it because you believe it’s the right thing to do even though it costs a bit more. While the actual product won’t be out until March, the company is selling some of its BETA products right now. Check it out here.

Credit: SunPort

A Reading Light for the Developing and Developed World

I received the Nokero in my office in late November and I must admit, it’s pretty cool. The name stands for “no kerosene” because the solar light replaces the use of kerosene and candles in the developing world. The product is light, easy to use and smartly designed. It is also great for camping, backpacking or other “off-grid” activities.  And like Tom’s shoes, for every purchase of a Nokero light, the company will send a light to a needy family in the developing world. Over 1.4 billion people lack electricity and light is a crucial part of improving their lives.

Those four ideas will hopefully get you started in your last-minute holiday gift shopping. If you have other suggestions of proven technology that really works, feel free to leave notes about them in the comment section below.

Happy Holidays from the Team at!

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