Friday, February 10, 2012

Silver and Gold for Christmas? How About Going Green with Solar Gifts - Home

Silver, gold, red and green are traditional colors for the winter holidays. This year, why not Go Green with a solar gift? There are a lot of solar items to choose from these days, from the strictly practical to the purely fun.

From solar toys to flashlights and battery chargers, you can put a smile on even the most "hard to shop for" people this year. Not only are there more solar items to choose from than in the past, the quality of many items has dramatically increased as solar technology continues to improve.

Remember that with solar products, you often get what you pay for. If you see two products that seem virtually identical expect for a large price difference, look closer at the product description.

It's said that the "Devil's in the Details," and the more costly product most likely uses superior solar technology, meaning your gift will probably work better and last longer if you choose the higher price options.

And, if you are doing online price comparisons, look carefully at whether shipping is included or extra, as that can often add 10 or 15 dollars (sometimes more) to your total cost

Green Toys and Games for Kids of All AgesThis year, there are a lot of different types of solar robots that can start at under $25.00, including shipping. There are also remote control cars that run on solar and hydro power, providing not only fun, but education about renewable energy.

There are science kits from children five through high school age with fun and educational experiments not only about solar power, but wind energy, clean water science, hydro power and more. The price range for these varies, but these Green science kits start at under $20.00. There are also many board games that focus on Green Living!

Solar Gifts for "People Who Have Everything"Nearly everyone has people who are difficult to shop for on their list. Either they seem to have everything, or you always wonder whether the item will fit or whether the recipient will like the color. Instead of gift certificates, think about a solar gift. Size doesn't matter! Along with flashlights and battery chargers, cool things out there include wind chimes with solar lights, small solar water features, and indoor solar desk/reading lamps.

You can also get customized solar address signs, solar lanterns (practical and decorative options are available).

Gifts for People Who Love the OutdoorsSolar flashlights are great options and many have red and green filters as accessories. The red filters help provide "night vision," while the green filters are recommended for use around animals as green light doesn't "spook" the way that white or amber light can.

For people who love the water, there are solar boat lights that can be used on boats or docks. Solar lanterns are good for camping or your own backyard, as are rechargeable radios. Solar Tiki torches add a tropical feel to outdoor gatherings, without the risk of fire or burnt children and guests.

For bird lovers, there are lots of solar-powered combination bird baths/water fountains that can store and recirculate two or more gallons of water. Solar water pumps make it easy to add fountain sprays, water falls to small containers or large ponds while recirculating the water for cleaning and oxygen purposes.

Lights for Outdoor StructuresSheds, greenhouses, barns and other outbuildings often are difficult to access with electricity. Shed lights are a great option to prevent accidents and let people find things without fumbling with flashlights. Quality models (many of which have motion-detected "night lights" to make find the switch or cord easy) are available starting at around $50. Shed lights are available with long-lasting LED bulbs and compact florescent bulbs.

Note: While halogen shed lights are available, we don't recommend them, as halogen bulbs run very hot, hotter than incandescent bulbs. Storage areas tend to be crowded or cluttered and often contain gasoline powered tools like lawn mowers, leaf blowers or trimmers. Many outdoor buildings also hold flammable items such as paints, solvents, peat and hay.

Solar LampsQuality solar lamps, such as those for mounted on walls or fences and those to retrofit existing posts start as low as $110 or so, including shipping. There are also portable solar lamp posts that are great for people with seasonal homes or for renters because they can easily be moved around the property and even taken inside during power outages.

When you purchase solar lamps, you need to read the product descriptions carefully to make sure that you are buying a good item as the quality varies tremendously. Our recommendation: only purchase solar lamps with Lithium Ion batteries. Li-Ion batteries indicate that the product uses the latest in solar technology, meaning you're getting the brightest and most reliable lighting available.

Solar Security Lights Spotlights, floodlights and accent spotlights are great ideas. They're easy to install, have no utility costs and provide reliable light over a wide area (floodlights), a focused area (spot lights) or very specific areas (accent spotlights). The prices for quality products typically range from the $50 to $110. Again, the cost reflects the quality of the technology used. For security lights, price also factors in a device's built-in flexibility and the ability to control the darkness levels at which the light goes on and/or how long motion-detection solar lights will stay lit when activated.

Solar Flashlights and Emergency Lighting Gift IdeasWay too many folks were left in the dark during 2011 with an unusually high number of destructive storms and other natural disasters. Solar flashlights and emergency lights provide power not only during power outage or emergency situations; they are great for outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, and hiking. (They are also great for people who have a tendency to forget to buy batteries.)

A couple of things we really like about the newer models available is the strength and length of power on one charge, and that quality solar flashlights can retain 75 to 80 percent of their charge for 12 months or more. We particularly like "two-in-one" products that let you decide whether you want to use the product as a spotlight or a flashlight.

Combine many people's love of technology and the environment with a solar-powered charger! Battery chargers for flashlights, electronic devices and other non-solar products make great gifts for tech savvy people of all ages!

Yes, they are practical, but still different and fun! No matter where your friend or family member goes, help them stay in touch chargers for cell phones, smart phones, games, GPS devices, laptop computers and virtually any hand-held devices. Useful, convenient and affordable, they are great for long-rides, trips outside, camping, or to keep in touch when the power is out!

Depending on what you want to charge (hand-held devices as opposed to laptop computers or AC/DC lights), but high quality products are available starting $50. More expensive options usually are stronger and include different types of accessories (USB cords, Cigarette Lighter Adaptors, clamps and more) to send the power from the solar charger to the item needing power.

Are there more items that people on your list would enjoy? Yes indeed, so when you search items on the internet, thrown solar into the search query and see how many available products powered by solar are out there. Just make sure you read the product descriptions carefully to buy the best technology and make sure you factor shipping into the total purchase price.