Green Gadget Holiday Shopping Gift Review

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This RC car runs on hydrogen!

With holiday season officially upon us, it’s time to think about presents for your loved ones. Gift options abound, and it can be tough to tell which will be a hit and which are destined for the return line.

Fortunately for your shopping lists, energyNOW! correspondent Patty Kim researched this year’s coolest clean tech gadgets to help figure out which will help your friends and family go green. The full review is available below:

Green Gadget Gift Review from Energy NOW on Vimeo.

Changers Solar Charger

Since cellphones and tablets are so popular these days, the Changers Solar Charger was a great starting point. It’s a personal solar power charging station that lets users produce and consume renewable energy wherever they can find some sunlight. The kit contains two components – a flexible solar module which can hang on a window, and a rechargeable 16-watt battery. Four hours of direct sunlight will fully charge the battery, and it’ll provide enough juice to fully charge most handheld electronic devices a few times.

The solar charger sells for $149, and in an interesting twist, tracks the energy you produce. The results will be tweeted and stored, and can be redeemed into credits that can be redeemed in the Changers online marketplace.

Voltaic Systems Solar Laptop Charger Backpack

If you’re in the market for device charging, but prefer to generate your power on the go, the Voltaic Systems solar laptop charger backpack may be a better idea. Three 3.4-watt solar panels adorn the backpack, and attach to a universal laptop battery. One hour of direct sunlight will run a laptop for 30 minutes and 90 minutes of sunlight will fully charge most cell phones. The backpack is waterproof and durable, but heavy at 5.5 pounds, and costs a bit more at $389.

Nest Learning Thermostat

Charging devices is great, but reducing utility bills is becoming more important for homeowners during the economic downturn, and that’s where the Nest Learning Thermostat comes in. It’s from the makers of the iPod and applies the same easy-to-use principles. After a week of installation, it will learn your cooling and heating preferences, constantly incorporates new temperature adjustments you make around the home. The Nest is currently on back order, and sells for $249, but is worth checking out for fun energy-saving features.

H-Racer 2.0

So what about the kids in that energy-efficient home? The H-Racer 2.0 is just like any other remote-controlled toy car on the market, except for one aspect – it runs on hydrogen. The car’s small refueling station comes with a solar panel, and when water is poured into it, creates a chemical reaction that releases oxygen into the air and hydrogen into the gas tank. The process takes about 60 seconds and will power the car for around 10 minutes. The H-Racer retails for $119 and is great for anyone interested in alternative energy or science.

Stromer Electric Bike

And last, but not least, consider taking the Stromer electric bike for a ride. It’s one of the most powerful e-bikes on the market, with a 600-watt rear-hub motor, and has two modes of power. The pedal assist mode will provide a boost for riders when they’re heading up hills, and the power on demand mode will cruise along at 20 miles per hour without any pedaling. The 36-volt battery can charge onboard or separately, and takes five or six hours to fully charge, but provides a 45-mile range on pedal assist. The Stromer is expensive, at $3,399, but is perfect for commuters.

Big-ticket items like toys and electronics typically sell well during the holidays, but they can wind up being energy hogs. Hopefully some of the products hitting the shelves this year will wind up saving energy and helping consumers be a little more sustainable. Happy holidays!

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