We might be years away from seeing solar power compete with traditional energy sources on an industrial level, but it’s never been easier for the individual to tap into the power of the sun. Solar technology continues to evolve and the products that hit the market are better year after year. We dug through countless online reviews to find the most trustworthy solar gear on the market. Here are five of our favorite pieces of solar gear.
EcoFlow River ($600)
The River is a sleek, portable lithium-ion battery built to meet your power needs, whether you’re car camping or looking for a backup generator at home. The battery has massive storage capacity (412Wh) and a total output of 500 watts through 11 different ports. You can charge it in your car, through a wall outlet, or through EcoFlow’s solar panels (it’ll take at least 12 hours to charge the bank via solar). We like the digital display which tells you the exact percentage of battery life you have left, and the fact that it’s compact, weighing just 11 pounds and taking up less space than a toaster. Even more important, the River doesn’t leak battery life, so it will keep a full charge for up to a year if left dormant.
Biolite Solar Home 620 ($150)
Want to take your van/tent/tree-house off the grid with little fuss? Biolite’s Solar Home 620 is like an instant self-power kit with a 6W solar panel that connects to a 20Wh Control Box and three overhead lights (with wall-mount switches). The Control Box has a radio and MP3 player and even serves as a power bank where you can charge your devices. The system is in place in 40,000 homes in Kenya, but we think it would be pretty dope powering your van life.
MPowerd Luci String Lights ($35)
We’ve raved about MPowerd’s collapsible Luci light in the past, so we’re pretty excited about this string light version of the Luci, which gives you an 18-foot-long wire of lights for your campsite. The LEDs can be charged via USB port in two hours, or via the attached solar panel in 14 hours.
GoalZero Nomad Solar 7 ($99)
This isn’t the most powerful solar panel on the market, but the Nomad 7 provides a good balance of portability and output. There’s no battery attached, so you’ll be connecting your devices directly to the panels, but the lack of battery cuts down on the weight (less than 13 ounces and it folds flat, making it easy to stuff in your pack). We also like the little details, like the zippered pocket for cables and the kickstand. An LED indicator tells you how much power you’re collecting from the sun. You’ll get seven watts of output through a USB port, which will charge a cell phone or GPS in 2 hours in full sun.
Nemo Helio Pressure Shower ($100)
A hot shower at the end of the day in the backcountry? Thanks sun power! The Helio holds three gallons of water in a polyester PU coated material that’s bombproof and transfers heat from the sun to warm the water inside. And it uses a foot pump to add pressure, which means you don’t have to hang it from a tree. Fill it up and set it out in the sun for a couple of hours, and you’ll get five minutes of hot pressurized water.