Go for a green solar gadget

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A solitaire or an expensive bottle of perfume have become common gifts. Why not think innovative and try gifting some amazing solar-powered gadget? We have entered 2010 with great expectations about futuristic gadgets that will be available to us. While flying cars and talking robots may still be out of reach for most, solar gadgets are slowly becoming intertwined into our everyday life.

By Srabani Sen

Wednesday, March 17, 2010:  When it comes to solar power, people usually think of a solar power plant or rooftop panels. However, an increasing number of portable solar power products are coming up in the market that are handy and eco-friendly. Of course, calculators and alarm clocks have been solarised for decades. Now more interesting and exciting solar products are being introduced in the market—from a solar mobile to a solar shaver, solar candle, solar headphone and many more. Take a look at these. You might just find what you are looking for and contribute to the common cause of preserving the environment.

Samsung India had launched the world’s first solar-powered mobile phone—Solar Guru (Guru E1107)—in the Indian market last summer. This handset enables users to charge the battery anywhere the sun is shining.

“Solar Guru has been developed keeping in mind the needs of Indian consumers, especially customers residing in areas where the electricity supply is unstable, so that they can rely on solar charging to remain connected,” states Ranjit Yadav, director, mobile and IT business, Samsung.

Samsung Solar Guru comes in a compact design with an extended solar-powered battery and features like FM radio, MP3 ringtones, embedded games and a powerful torchlight. It also provides ‘mobile prayer’—a specialised feature for different religions that includes religious prayers and wallpapers. It is priced at Rs 2,799.

You can also go for Sanyo’s Eneloop solar light, which taps sunlight with Sanyo’s proprietary high-efficiency HIT solar cell technology, originally developed to be used as rooftop solar panel. “With Eneloop solar light, Sanyo aims to maximise usability, portability and longevity of solar energy, made possible by built-in rechargeable battery,” says Hiroaki Shirai, head of global sales and marketing, Sanyo.

“Sanyo Eneloop range is known for its long-lasting battery. Eneloop solar light can be used for rooms and as a beam for flashlight use. Depending on the amount of light used, it will give around 9 to 50 hours of light. What’s more, its USB port can be used for charging cellphones and other gadgets,” says Kunal Jiwarajka, executive director, JSK Marketing. Eneloop solar light is available from JSK Marketing for Rs 13,500.

Sanyo does develop some of the most stunning green gadgets, but unfortunately it limits the sales of these products to Japan and Singapore. Not this time though, because the company is planning to add a portable solar generator and neck warmer to its Eneloop line in other parts of Asia as well.

Solar Store has a variety of solar gadgets, ranging from solar torch-cum-radio-cum-mobile charger to LED battery tester to solar battery charger with meter to solar AM/FM radio. “The solar torch with three LEDs has three-way charging facility—AC, solar panel and dynamo. It is priced at Rs 2,500. The solar-powered LED keychain torch flashlight has built-in solar panel, giving relief to the user from changing batteries or bulbs. Just put this flashlight under the sun and it’ll be ready to be used wherever required. This waterproof gadget costs Rs 850,” states Yogi Tripathi, proprietor, Solar Store. “Demand for these gadgets is picking up,” he adds.

Some imported solar gadgets can be bought online. One example is the solar-powered electric shaver, which will prove handy for someone who is always on the move. It can also be charged by AC, if needed. The shaver uses an in-built high-technique solar panel.

There are solar-driven headphones as well, which are bound to impress the teenagers. The Bluetooth-connected Q-sound (quantum sound) headphone set has flexible solar-powered panels, wireless technology and rotating earpieces. One hour in the sun allows three hours of power. The headphones can run up to 40 hours when fully charged.

South Korea’s LG Display has developed a solar panel for e-book reader. The panel is 10 cm in width and length and has been combined with a Sony e-book reader. Exposure to sunlight for four to five hours provides enough power to run the e-book reader for a day, claims LG. However, the e-reader will be commercially available only by 2012.

Canon’s solar calculator is fully solar-powered, making it usable everywhere. Another smart option is a solar-powered air purifier. You can place it at your kitchen window or in your car. It is a far better option than an air freshener as many are allergic to strong smells.

Some domestic manufacturers are also venturing into this space as they feel solar energy would be in great demand in the years to come. Waaree Energies, one of India’s largest producers of PV modules, imports solar gadgets from China and Germany. “We have about 25 such gadgets with which we bundle our solar panels. These gadgets include solar torches, solar mobile chargers, solar fan caps, solar name plate displays, solar key chains, etc. The prices range from Rs 100 to Rs 10,000,” says Uday Dharia, vice president, Waaree Energies. “Our solar mobile charger can charge MP3 players, musical instruments, cameras, etc. These gizmos also work as stored power-backup items that can be used anywhere and at any time,” he adds. They also come with adaptors for various phone types and makes.

Radha Energy Cell manufactures many such solar gadgets. Says Rajesh Soni, director, Radha Energy Cell, “Our solar radio, battery charger, cool cap and torch are very well received by our customers. The solar radio charged for one hour can run for five hours, and the torch can run for six hours if fully charged. Demand for these products is picking up in India but will take some more time to become comparable with the international countries,” adds Soni.

So, go for an eco-friendly gift and love the planet too!

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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