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The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act and the tax breaks it will bring will make solar power more affordable for many families. Solar power is one of the many ways for you to make incremental progress toward lowering your carbon footprint and decreasing your fossil fuel-based energy consumption.
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There are several small, affordable solar products that can help you take steps to more renewable energy use. While none of these solutions are going to make drastic changes to your electric bill, or individually turn the tide of climate change, they can begin to establish more renewable habits and awareness.
What’s more, many of these products can help keep you safe and in communication in the event of a power outage or other emergencies.
1. Switch to outdoor solar lights
Lighting is an old and straightforward way to bring solar power to your electrical needs. Rather than investing the time, money, and energy into running wires throughout your yard, consider installing solar landscape lighting.
These moveable lights come in numerous sizes, brightness levels, and even colors, and are powered entirely by the sun. They can be used purely as aesthetic accents, as safety and security features, or a combination of the two.
Even better, in addition to the savings from installation and zero cost of use, outdoor solar lights can be moved to suit your changing needs or fancy in just a couple of minutes, without needing to dig up and re-run electrical wires.
Solar lights aren’t just for the yard, either. Various manufacturers make lights that attach to your house beside the door, to staircases to light up the treads in the dark, and even solar holiday lights.
We tested a variety of outdoor solar lights to find the best options on the market.
2. Power up your phone with a portable solar chargers
We’ve all got devices that need charging, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve got several rats' nests worth of cords set up at various outlets around the house. One way to get control of those cords and free up that outlet next to your stove is to invest in a portable solar charger for your devices.
A small solar power bank is a great way to keep your phone and tablet full, whether at home or on the go. Simply charge up the battery on a sunny day, and then plug your phone in to charge each night.
These power banks are a great option to bring with you on camping trips, as well to provide emergency power, particularly as many of them have built-in flashlights for safety. Most of these power banks can also be charged via an outlet or car power port on days when the sun isn’t shining.
You can also invest in more decorative options. Grouphug offers a solar window charger, a stylish solar panel in a bamboo frame that you can hang in the sunniest window in your home via the included suction cup. The panel stores power in a rechargeable battery, which you can then use to charge your phone, tablet, watch, portable speakers or headphones—almost anything with a USB charging port.
And of course, if you’re traveling, you can take it with you and use it on the go.
3. Opt for a solar-powered security camera
Another easy way to make use of solar power is with your outdoor security cameras. Whether you need a doorbell model or more of a trail cam, numerous manufacturers make solar powered cameras for a variety of uses.
Many, like the Ring Stick Up Cam, include night vision, a wide field of view, siren, two-way talk, and other smart features that work with your Alexa system.
If you’re more interested in just a regular camera without the additional security features, then the Campark T150 trail camera is worth a look, with its 120-degree angle, night vision, numerous camera modes, and durability in all kinds of weather.
4. Solar generator
If you’re looking for a larger power solar solution that can handle some of your bigger appliances and devices, then consider picking up a solar battery backup system. These are just large capacity batteries that can be charged in numerous ways, including with solar panels that are typically an additional purchase.
The sizes of these batteries will vary, but many have clean power outputs that can power everything from your refrigerator to cooking appliances to power tools, while also charging your home. The standard use-case for these is as emergency backup or off grid power like in camping, but there’s no reason they couldn’t be used in day-to-day life to offset some of your traditional grid power usage.
We tested the Generark HomePower One and SolarPower One system, and I was very impressed with the technology overall. Depending on usage, these batteries can provide plenty of power for a wide variety of needs. While these certainly aren’t going to power your entire home, they can run a good amount of your on demand power needs. And the system does have the ability to charge via a traditional power outlet if the sun isn’t shining that day.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Ways to use solar power at home