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The 5 best solar gifts for the holidays (including a piece of art)

What better way to light up someone's life in an era of climate change than a gift powered by the sun? We found the best solar gifts this holiday season.
Written by Rajiv Rao, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Emery Wright

You may have noticed from all the climate-related mayhem occurring all around us -- floods, wildfires, and hurricanes, to name just a few -- that the earth is in a fragile state. We need to make better decisions on what and how we consume. Gifts that use solar energy are a great way to help each other start the New Year in a climate-conscious mindset. Plus, you don't have to sacrifice design, utility, or innovativeness.

In fact, you are more likely to find all three of these factors in a leading solar product simply because its ability to provide usefulness and functionality while tackling climate change at an attractive price point demands excellence. We've made a stellar suggestion list for fans of the great outdoors.
We even have options for podcast addicts and music lovers who can't go anywhere without their tunes. Whichever gift you go for, your choice is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of your lucky recipient while also lowering their carbon footprint -- it's the best kind of gift you can give these days.

Must read:

The best solar gift ideas for the holidays

Below are the 5 best solar gift ideas I found for the holiday season this year. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Inflatable
  • Stunning design
  • Dustproof and waterproof
Cons
  • Cannot charge devices
More Details
  • Price: $30
  • Features: Self-inflating | Runtime of 12 hours | 90 Lumens

There are many reasons to consider gifting a Solight Solarpuff lantern. It's versatile, for one. It makes a perfect gift for someone who enjoys spending time outdoors and who relishes using clean forms of energy. The solar lantern charges easily, and thanks to no-heat LEDs, it can be used safely inside tents, too. The solar lantern is made of nearly indestructible sailcloth, so it's dust-proof and waterproof up to two meters (six feet) for 30 minutes. It's also self-inflating, completely collapsible, and capable of emitting 90 Lumens. 

The stunning product is actually displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, so it can also bring instant style to your backyard or pool area. To provide some context: Solarpuff was designed by Alice Min Soo Chun, who was inspired by origami shapes that her Korean mother taught her to create as a child. Alice originally distributed prototypes in Haiti to aid victims of a devastating earthquake, and today 10% of sales are donated towards global poverty reduction programs.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lasts 7 months on 1 charge
  • Bluetooth-enabled
  • 200m water resistant
Cons
  • LED illuminator button hard to push
More Details
  • Price: $150
  • Features: Bluetooth enabled | 5 daily alarms | Battery indicator

Adoring fans of the iconic G-Shock GA2100, dubbed the 'CasiOak' for its octagonal shape, are in total thrall of its upgrade: The GAB2100 solar-powered G-Shock. The watch has the same Carbon Core Guard structure as its predecessor, with the addition of a bluetooth smartphone link feature.

What better present can you bestow upon someone living in the era of climate change than an indestructible, elegant timepiece powered by the sun? The watch can tick on for seven whole months with just one charge. Plus, this model is less chunky than previous models, with a diameter of only 48.5 mm.

It still displays day and date and can function as a world timer, stopwatch, alarm, and countdown timer. Plus, now users can check how much charging percentage remains. And as long as your lucky gift recipient isn't a vampire, the watch will never run out of battery.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Includes a power bank and flashlight
  • Water-resistant and dust-proof
  • Rich bass
Cons
  • Solar charging takes time
More Details
  • Price: $60
  • Features: 60 hour battery life | IPX6 waterproof rating | 5,000 mAh battery

A standout among solar-chargeable bluetooth speakers, Abfoce's solidly built unit is a perfect gift for anyone who likes to listen to music by the pool or beach. With an IPX6 certificate, this speaker can handle robust splashes of rain and gusts of dust without falling apart. Its 5,000 mAh battery means the speaker can pump out tunes for 60 long hours. Plus, the mono-crystalline silicon solar panel will continue to charge the system while it plays.

However, the solar charging process is a more of a trickle, so you should charge the speaker fully before use, employing the solar panel as a way to top off. Equipped with an integrated power bank, a flashlight, and an overall quality stereo, this reasonably-priced speaker is sure to keep toes tapping and heads nodding in approval throughout the holidays and beyond.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Durable
  • Functions in cloudy weather
  • Reasonable price
Cons
  • Bulky
More Details
  • Price: $55
  • Tech specs or features: 3 x USB-A Ports | 2.4 Amps each (5V/4.8A max) | 20.5 oz

If you know a family member or friend who always hikes, treks, or canoes, BigBlue's 28W solar charger will surely bring a smile to their face. Anyone who ventures into the wild for more than a few days will worry about charging their digital devices, including headlamps, cameras, power banks and phones. Plus, batteries are a pain to haul around -- not mention that they're pollutants.

Enter BigBlue, a 28W solar charger with four panels that can hang from a backpack while you're on the move. It may not be the lightest one around, but it's by far the most dependable. It can charge devices in all kinds of weather, even cloudy skies that would upend most other solar chargers. With a rugged build thanks to PET polymer panels and canvas material, this king of solar panels will surely elicit sighs of relief every time the lucky beneficiary uses it.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Parts can be washed and recycled
  • Innovative
Cons
  • Pricey
More Details
  • Price: $230
  • Tech specs or features: IPX4 | 80 hours of battery life | Powerfoyle solar technology

There's nothing more soul-sapping than heading out for a long walk with your favorite bluetooth headphones and your favorite songs, only to have the device die. With Adidas' new solar-chargeable headphones, it will never happen to you again thanks to the magic of 'Powerfoyle,' a revolutionary solar technology printed on the device's headband. And apparently, it can charge even on a gloomy winter's day.

Adidas says a fully-charged pair will give you 80 hours of blissful high-quality sound. If you place them in a sunlight area (in or outside), you'll never ever have to worry about how much battery you have left. Plus, nearly 90% of the plastic is made from recycled material, which any eco-conscious audiophile is bound to appreciate.

The best solar gift deals during the holidays

Below are 5 solar gift deals I found happening right now.

How did we choose these solar gift ideas?

We looked for solar products that meet the following criteria: 

  1. The solar solution must be genuinely useful.
  2. The product itself must be one of the top performers in its category. 
  3. It must be hardy in terms of build quality and highly regarded by reputed gear testers and consumers alike.
  4. It must be fairly priced for the solution offered.

Why should we use solar products?

As you are probably aware, the earth's climate has been steadily warming to the point where catastrophes such as wildfires, devastating floods, and severe storms are becoming increasingly common. There is widespread agreement that it is no longer feasible to depend on fossil fuels as a source of energy. This includes other products such as non-rechargeable batteries that have large carbon footprints, that are expensive, that drain fast, and that pollute the environment. Solar power however harnesses the energy from the sun and is considered "clean."

What makes solar products stand out?

One word: Convenience. Thanks to constantly improving technology, there are numerous products being reconfigured to have solar film and small panels integrated unobtrusively into their design. This allows them to charge on the fly, so you never have to worry about running out of juice as you trek, shuttle between meetings. or travel to another destination.

How many kinds of solar panels are there?

There are three main types of solar panels commonly manufactured right now. Monocrystalline solar panels are moderately expensive and made of pure silicon, which has the largest efficiency (24.4%). Polycrystalline panels are cheaper and have 20% efficiency. Thin film is the most expensive and the least efficient at 18.9%, but it allows for more flexible applications. New technologies like Swedish-made Powerfoyle, which prints a silicone-free, non-toxic, and flexible panel will allow more innovative solar products and solutions to enter the marketplace.

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