March 12, 2015
outlet silhouette against sunset

Think solar panels just power our homes and businesses? Check out these unusual and amazing products and structures that run solely on sunlight.

1. SOLAR POWERED AIRPLANE

 

The Solar Impulse is a long-range Swiss aircraft that runs on sunlight – that’s right, it’s a zero fuel plane. The prototype made its first flight in 2009, its first intercontinental flight in 2012, and the Solar Impulse 2 is slated to make solar history on a trip to circumnavigate the globe. The Si2 actually took flight this month! Although the plane can fly for several days straight without needing to land, the Si2 will make 12 stops during its global journey that began in Abu Dhabi. The Solar Impulse is truly an indicator of how far solar power can go, both literally and physically. During the trip, the plane will even undergo a 5-day stretch over the Pacific Ocean using only sunlight.

2. SOLAR POWERED BAGS/BACKPACKS

Perfect for hikers, this collection of bags fitted with solar panels can charge anything from a cellphone to a laptop. Never again will you need to feel panic set in when you’re traveling and discover that your phone’s battery has drained. Just a few hours of having this backpack in the sun will extend the life of your smartphone. You’ll be able to take pictures, make calls, and use a tablet or laptop no matter where in the world you are.

3. PORTABLE SOLAR OUTLET

Need a way to charge your phone when you’re stuck on the train, in a restaurant, or an area where all the outlets are taken up? The sun can help you with that. Check out this portable solar outlet created by designers Kyuho Song and Boa Oh. Simply stick the device to a window (there are solar panels on the underside facing the sun) and after 8 hours of charging, it’s able to provide 10 hours of electricity. That means you can take the device anywhere with you, stick it to the wall, and immediately have your own electrical outlet. It hasn’t reached the U.S. yet, but with our tech-heavy society, we suspect there will be a great demand here!

4. SOLAR POWERED SKI LODGE

This ice cube-shaped cabin in northern Slovakia is a head-turner inside and out. Created by Czech architects, the solar cabin was inspired by blocks of ice falling off glaciers. Along with a polished, modern wooden interior, the cabin also contains a restaurant, ski storage, and sleeping area. As icy as it looks from the outside, inside the lodge is cozy and flooded with natural light.

5. WORLD’S SMALLEST SOLAR POWERED MOVIE THEATER

Sol Cinema: for anyone who wants to save the environment while they watch movies. This mini-movie theater is repurposed from a 1970’s trailer and yes, it’s completely powered by the sun. A photovoltaic panel soaks up sunlight even as movies are being shown so the micro-cinema never runs out of power! Up to 8 guests can be seated at one time and can even enjoy popcorn during the films. Sol Cinema travels to different events around England so the public can enjoy this outlandish theater experience.

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