Spread Solar for the Holidays: Four Gift Giving Ideas for 2017

It’s that time of year again: holidays! Until 2018 begins, we try to set aside some extra time for family, eat delicious meals together, exchange gifts and generally close out the year with good wishes and good intentions for the next year.

While Renewable Energy World is a business-to-business publication for the global renewable energy industry, we occasionally get press releases and notifications about interesting inventions that are designed for the general public. And as the holidays approach, we like to bring them to you. 

Our 2017 gift guide is full of interesting ideas about how to give the gift of solar energy. The reason we focused on solar this year is because the solar industry does a great job of alerting us about new products and services designed for the industry and the world at large. That said, if you produce a renewable energy consumer product or have recently launched a crowdfunding campaign that you’d like us to know about, please send a press release to REW-PR@PEnnWell.com.

Now onto the gift ideas:

Light up Your Campsite with Solar and Give Solar Lights to Puerto Rico

Founded by a Brian Plavnicky, a guy who wanted to make a social impact “without joining the peace corps,” Revel Gear makes renewable energy products that combine solar and LED lighting for the outdoors while also helping people in need of energy and light. Revel Gear launched via a kickstarter campaign this year and is now accepting orders for some products and pre-orders for others.  

For example, you can buy the Hut Buddy, a combination 20-ft. LED string light and solar battery pack, right now. Then when you use it, post a photo of it in action and trigger a donation.

When a customer posts a photo of a Revel Gear product on social media, the company donates either renewable energy or renewable energy and lighting on their behalf. Plavnicky said recently the company has been focused on Puerto Rico, sending existing products and prototypes to people without power on the island whose grid was devastated by a hurricane this fall.

Support the First Clean Energy Credit Union

Launched by a group of clean energy enthusiasts, including multiple solar installation companies from Amicus Solar Cooperative, which were fed up with the high fees banks were demanding of installers that wanted to offer financing to their customers, the Clean Energy Credit Union is a new financial and lending institution specifically for clean energy.

The loans are focused solely helping people afford solar electric systems, electric vehicles, home energy efficiency retrofits, electric-assist bicycles, net-zero energy homes, etc. Clean Energy Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial services cooperative and a federally chartered credit union. As a cooperative, it’s democratically owned and controlled by its members on a one-vote-per-member basis.

Listen to the podcast with Blake Jones, founder of the credit union, hosted by Renewable Energy World’s Jennifer Delony to learn more.

The crowdfunding campaign has concluded but the group still needs tax-deductible donations to get started and explains how to donate on this page.

Charge Your Phone with a Pocket-Sized Solar Charger

Sunslice, the world’s smallest solar charger, found us on the Renewable Energy World Facebook page, which you can “like” here. The wallet-sized product unfolds into a large square solar charger that can be put in the sun and then used to charge up a smartphone in a couple hours, according to the company. The company also says that at 3 watts, the product has the best size-to-power ratio. It’s worth look, here.

Discover Your Home’s Solar Potential on Facebook Messenger

Speaking of Facebook, PowerScout, a startup backed by the U.S. Department of Energy, launched the first Facebook Messenger chatbot for residential solar power this month.

Powered by artificial intelligence, the PowerScout chatbot can evaluate a home’s roof and let the homeowner know how much they can save with solar. Once a homeowner enters an address, PowerScout uses automated computer vision models to evaluate the home’s solar potential and then produces an estimate of potential savings and quantity of solar panels required.

Homeowners in some states can then use the bot to get quotes from PowerScout’s network of local solar installers. The quotes service is available in CA, NY, NJ and MA, and PowerScout can estimate savings in 15 states: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, SC, VT, according to the company.

PowerScout isn’t a gift per se, but it’s an innovation that could help drive the solar industry forward and reduce those enormous soft costs related to customer acquisition. And anythng that makes solar cheaper and easier to be deployed is a gift to us all. 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Renewable Energy World!

Lead image credit: Revel Gear.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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