The first light-powered portable electronic device we brought into our home many years ago is still doing its job today. We keep the Casio calculator by the computer, where it's always ready for a quick calculation, like, "Would rebooking this airfare save enough money to offset the penalty fee?" We just grab the calculator and start tapping buttons, no batteries required, because the handheld wonder runs off ambient light.
Calculators that need no batteries belong to an earlier generation of light-powered tools. Today, we frequently hear about new solar-powered consumer electronics, from computer keyboards to air conditioners. The appeal is obvious. Coupled with a battery for overnight use, solar-powered gadgets offer nonstop service without cords, for mobility and convenience.
With home security in mind, we rounded up three solar-powered tools from the latest wave of inventions.
Solar-Powered Security Lights
The areas on your property most in need of security lighting—the back of the garage, say, or a distant corner of the yard—might also be far from an electrical outlet. Plus, the optimum height for mounting lights makes changing disposable batteries inconvenient, even unsafe.
To the rescue comes a security light that runs off solar energy, like the two-pack by Westinghouse that is a bestseller at Lowe's ($63).
With an output of 2,000 lumens, these are the brightest solar-powered lamps we have seen. The illumination zone is a wide 120 degrees, so if you attach a light to a remote passageway on the exterior of your home, the motion-activated lights can fire on people coming from either direction. One light and its solar panel are pictured above; you get two in the Lowe's two-pack. Rechargeable batteries are included.
Solar Surveillance Camera
Blink and you'll miss it? Not with an always-on security camera like this popular model from Blink.
The outdoor camera boasts Wi-Fi connectivity, easy setup, and a solar panel. At the moment, the bundle is about $110 via Amazon.
Another good offering comes from Arlo Technologies (pictured below). The Arlo Essential ($100) got the nod for best outdoor security camera by Forbes Advisor. It connects to Wi-Fi, records 1080p resolution video, and boasts a battery life of six months. Arlo sells the solar recharging panel separately.
What about the GeckoEye?
The GeckoEye looked like it would be the first solar-powered Wi-Fi security camera on the market with a minimalist, sleek design that would blend well in anyone's home. Previous solar security cameras looked like soup cans wearing solar-panel mortarboards on graduation day, but the GeckoEye was as small as a can of chewing tobacco. Attached to a window, it would capture video in the front while absorbing solar energy on the back.
If only it were true! Despite some press coverage in 2014, which talked about the camera in the present tense, as if you could go out and buy it, the GeckoEye was never mass produced. The Indiegogo campaign to raise capital has since closed, with no updates there in years.
Still, it's fun to see what might have been. Here is a promotional video of the fabled solar Wi-Fi camera and its really cool design:
Follow the Solar Brick Road
A little light on an outdoor pathway is appreciate by homeowners and guests alike, especially if people are meant to step on dark stone pavers set in a graceful curve toward the house. At night you risk missing a step, possibly twisting an ankle.
As seen on LampLust's Amazon storefront, solar-powered LED bricks add inviting pools of light underfoot or along a pathway. The durable glass bricks recharge all day in the sun and glow warmly after dark. Shown above is the 4x4-inch square ($24). After a full day's recharge, the brick will light up automatically at dusk, thanks to light sensors, and glow for about seven hours.
That's a Wrap!
These interesting solar-powered devices can help you keep an eye on your property (lights), record your surroundings for viewing on your smartphone with motion sensitivity and Wi-Fi connectivity (camera), and guide your step decoratively but safely around your home in the dark (traction). Lights, camera, traction!