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nPower Personal Energy Generator
Earth Day is April 22, so it’s a great time to take a step back and look at your personal energy consumption. Tech tools are often energy hogs, so we’ve compiled a list of the gadgets that do just the opposite.
Our first gadget is the nPower Personal Energy Generator (PEG), a $130 charger that uses body movement to charge devices. Place it upright in your bag, and go about your daily business. Later, plug in your smartphone or other electronic device and it will begin charging. It can also charge with a USB port. Once the internal battery is fully charged, it holds it for 100 days sitting still. If it is moving around, it can stay charged even longer. If your phone is dead, shaking the PEG for 10 minutes will generate enough energy to make a short call.
Water-powered alarm clock
The Bedol water clock has been around for a while, but the fact that it’s cheap and seemingly useful landed it on this list. The $20 “Squirt” clock converts water’s ions into clean energy power to keep the clock running. Fill the clock with water and it will last six months. It’s a simple alarm clock, with one control panel for one alarm.
In July 2014, you can purchase this innovative gadget: a charger that gets juice from a bicycle. Siva Cycle, a company that makes modern accessories for cyclists, had a successful Kickstarter campaign last summer to raise money for their Siva Atom, which hooks onto the axle of a bike wheel and is powered through the spin of the wheel. The more you ride, the more energy you generate. It’s about the size of an iPhone and costs $100. The company is also targeting this charger to people in developing nations who ride bikes but have no way to power any of their electronics.
WeMo Insight Switch
The WeMo Insight Switch from Belkin allows users to control the energy usage of home electronics from anywhere using an iOS or Android device. This Wi-Fi enabled plug is an addition to the WeMo smart home platform, and plugs directly into an electrical outlet. Connect it to the home Wi-Fi system and download the app. Users can turn electronics on and off remotely, create notifications for device usage, and monitor specific appliances.
TED Energy Detective
The TED Energy Detective is designed to help lower energy bills. It works with a building’s existing electrical system to collect, store, and analyze data. Clamps on the breaker panels around the main wires monitor the data. The most basic system is designed for breaker systems less than 200 amps. An Energy Control Center, part of the kit, works with Footprints software, which connects to any computer, smartphone, or router. The average user saves 5 to 30% of their bill using TED, which can accurately project monthly bills using the energy usage data the user puts in. TED systems start at $200.
Solar laptop charger
The Voltaic solar laptop charger has the ability to power smartphones and laptops on the go. Using a 16 watt solar panel, it generates power in the sunlight and is waterproof and lightweight. One hour of direct sun will provide about 45 minutes of laptop charge. There is also an included laptop battery that can be charged via solar power or DC car or AC wall charger. It costs $399.
This award-winning little gadget saves energy and carbon emissions simply by being plugged into your computer. Hit the button when you step away from the desk, and it powers into the best energy-saving mode. When you return, it tells you how much carbon dioxide and money you saved.
Cyber Rain XCI sprinkler system
Cyber Rain XCI is a smart sprinkler system that conserves water for landscaping projects. It waters them based on their needs rather than a timer. The kit includes a wireless access point, which connects to the internet to receive live weather information. The user can adjust or monitor the sprinklers remotely using this cloud based system as well. The access point is indoors, but additional sensors are used depending on the size of the yard. The system automatically decreases the watering schedule on cold or humid days, and increases on dry, hot days. It adjusts based on the slope of the land and monitors broken valves.
HYmini is a handheld, universal charger that uses wind and solar power to recharge almost any gadget. It has a micro wind power generator that has a small wind turbine inside, which needs a minimum of nine miles per hour to start charging. It also has a rechargeable battery inside. The device can be attached to up to four miniSOLAR accessories, which extends power collection for an output of five volts.
OnBeat solar powered headphones have a flexible solar cell that covers the full headband, to capture sunlight while you wear them. Two lithium ion batteries store the energy. On rainy days, just plug the headphones into a computer with a USB charger. Unveiled at CES 2014, these are $144 and currently available for pre-order.
Bloom LED light
Philips’ Bloom lamp uses LED light, which is long-lasting and energy efficient and doesn’t have much effect on energy bills. The light has 16 million colors to choose from, and using a simple wireless connection, you can control it from the Hue app on your phone, iPad, or iPod touch. This $80 light has 120 lumen output, but the intensity can be lowered for ambiance.
In the fall of 2013, a company called Otis and Eleanor raised way over their goal of $25,000 for Bongo, a bluetooth speaker made from 100% bamboo. The speakers don’t have any cords and the bamboo provides a full, natural sound as opposed to metal or plastic. Bamboo, which is abundant in nature, is very durable, allowing you to take this portable device anywhere. The speaker cloth is made from hemp. The $140 speakers last for eight hours.
Bluetooth plant monitor
In one of the most unique uses for bluetooth, the Parrot Flower Power is a small device put in potted plants around the house. It connects to an app on smartphones, which has a library of more than 7,000 plants. The app offers tips for each plant, feeding notifications, and growth rate analysis. It has a six month battery life and works indoors and outdoors. It’s about $60 on Amazon — a worthy investment if you have trouble keeping plants alive.
This bamboo keyboard won’t pile up in the landfill like all the plastic ones we toss out. It’s bluetooth enabled and works great with computers and tablets. This costs $80, and iZen also has a variety of bamboo products like calculators and iPhone cases.