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Great Eco-Friendly Gadgets

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 17 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Eco-friendly Green Environmental Gadgets

If your kids love gadgets, there are plenty to choose from that are as green as they are great fun to use. Whether you’re looking for something entertaining, educational or simply practical, there’s bound to be one that will suit – and searching through all the wonderfully ingenious options available can leave you wondering how you ever managed for so long without some of them!

If you’re after a present that is definitely a bit different, or just want to find a fun way to do your bit, here are a few examples of some of the best from amongst the wealth of readily available gadgets and gizmos to give you a little help when it comes to making your choice.

Solar Power

Solar power items inevitably feature high on the list, with examples to fit a wide range of purposes and pockets. Photovoltaic cells have come on a long way in recent years and their price has fallen as quickly as their efficiency has gone up, making them ideal sources of power for a huge number of useful “must-have” gadgets. Some of the most popular include:

  • Chargers – there’s one for just about every kind of modern electronic device from small portable ones starting at around £40, designed to top up your mobile phone or iPod to much larger and more expensive units that will keep a laptop happily charged. For under £20, you can even pick up something to ensure all your rechargeable batteries are always ready to go.
  • Solar Radios – if your youngsters have a favourite radio station, then why not cut out the need for a separate recharger altogether and opt for a self-contained solar radio. DAB models are available for around £80, many of them in fashionably “retro” styling.
  • Toys and Kits – from solar powered, radio controlled boats to build-it-yourself desk top fans, toys and kits have never been so much fun, nor quite so environmentally friendly. A number of manufacturers produce kits which have the parts for a number of different models to be made, so they make particularly flexible gifts, especially if you’re looking for something with a bit of an educational side.
  • Lights – solar lights used to be a bit of a disappointment, but they’ve improved almost beyond recognition recently. The combination of LED “bulbs” with efficient solar collectors and better batteries has revolutionised things and it’s now possible to buy the likes of motion-detecting security lights for under £30 which really work! Practical, affordable and eco-friendly, for outdoor use, solar lighting is hard to beat.
  • Solar Shower – this is a direct solar water heater, not a PV device, and looks pretty much like a large black old-fashioned, hot-water bottle. Fill it up with cold water, hang it up in the sun and hey presto – warm enough water to take a shower! It takes a little while to heat up, of course, but for wild camping enthusiasts, holiday hygiene no longer means taking a dip in icy cold water.

Bit of a Wind-Up

Wind up gadgets probably haven’t been this popular since Victorian times. It may seem like clockwork technology but the applications are definitely all new!

  • Radio – one of the first of the new breed of wind-up devices, invented by Trevor Baylis back in 1989, the device can give up to an hour’s listening for just twenty seconds winding and some kinds now have solar panels too, for when even that’s too much effort!
  • Torches – the low energy consumption of LEDs has also helped make wind-up torches a really practical alternative to traditional battery models and they beat even mains-rechargeable designs on environmental grounds.
  • MP3 Players – it had to happen, sooner or later; add the popularity of the MP3 format to the go-anywhere convenience of wind-up power and you have the latest word in digital green – a wind up iPod clone – and at around £140 it’s pretty competitive on price too!
  • Multi-devices – the ultimate in portable power, a portable wind-up machine that’s a radio, torch and phone charger all rolled into one and some of them even have an integrated PV panel as well, to save on wrist fatigue!

Other Options

The list, of course, doesn’t end there. Between home energy meters to help you slash bills, solar meters to highlight the sun’s potential, eco-buttons to put your PC to instant sleep and intelligent plugs that automatically eliminate “stand-by” there’s a whole range of other eco-friendly gadgets to think about too.

From little “stocking fillers” through to more serious pieces of equipment, gadgets have definitely gone green.

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