This week at Treehugger: Charge up and power your laptop, iPod, cell phone, PDA and more with the power of the sun and this lightweight, heavy-duty solar charger. Check out this tiny Stirling engine, powered by almost anything, including donuts and the palm of your hand, and get some advice about how to find and buy green gadgets and appliances. Finally, take a look at the latest BenQ 32-inch LCD TV, which looks awesome and won't contribute any harmful and dangerous electronics to ever-growing landfills.
This solar-powered electronics charger from PowerFilm Solar is a super-mobile, super-duper way to keep laptops, iPods, cell phones and the like topped off when there aren't any plugs around. Originally developed by the military, it folds up to fit in most backpacks and laptop cases, and it'll even charge NiMh, NiCd or Lithium ion batteries with an accessory charger. Each charger provides 10 watts of power (operating at 15.6 Volts) and can be daisy-chained together for anyone who needs solar mega-charging or just wants to stick it to the power company.
Stirling engines aren't really anything new; they've been powering the world in unusual ways since 1816. Still, we haven't seen many quite as nifty as these Stirling engines small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. They work on the cyclical exchange of temperature differences and can be powered by just about anything, including a dog, your lunch, afternoon cup of tea and an ice rink. Probably not powerful enough to keep many gadgets full of juice just yet, but we sure like the idea and scalability of such a simplistic, clean form of power.
Since TreeHugger hasn't found a way to power big home appliances without the trusty local utility just yet, we have some advice for people looking to save a few bucks over the life their next big purchase: buy smart. All appliances are rated for their energy consumption; Australia, for example, uses the Energy Rating Lable, and here in the US, you'll find the Energy Star sticker. Buying a highly-rated clothes washer, for example, can save up to $110 [USD] per year on your utility bills; similar cash-saving results can be found for anything with a good rating, including computers, TVs, DVD players, etc.
BenQ's new 32-inch LCD TV is great news for TreeHuggers and couch potatoes alike. Aside from having a HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) input, a contrast ratio of 800:1, resolution of 1366 768, and a brightness of 500 nits, it also complies with WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment) Directives. WEEE's main aim is to reduce the amount of harmful and dangerous electonic waste going to landfills; it became law in the UK this past summer and has teeth elsewhere in the EU. What happens if WEEE Directives aren't followed? The WEEE Man just might come to get you. Seriously — we couldn't make this stuff up. Buy smart or else!
Treehugger s EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.