Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


Cool Solar Stuff

By Lin Smith

What’s up with solar these  days? For one thing, solar roasted coffee beans.

solar roasted coffee

Coffee beans must be dried before they hit your morning coffee cup because the freshly picked  beans have too much moisture. Traditionally, in humid climates, coffee beans have been dried using electricity generated by fossil fuels or by burning wood (loss of forest) in a  mechanical dryer for about 6 hours. Today solar powered coffee dryers eliminate the need for wood and fossil fuels, cut the drying time, and decrease the chance of mold and bacteria getting into your morning cup of coffee. Plus, solar increases the profit for the coffee farmers as it eliminates the necessity to buy other sources of fuel and expensive mechanical dryers. Programs are getting started worldwide to help farmers get started in drying coffee beans by solar.


Next on my list of cool solar stuff–the solar scooter. On a site called you can download a set of plans to build your own solar scooter which is “street legal, affordable, and dependable!”. On you can find out how to turn your electric scooter into an electric/solar scooter. It uses a PV panel as its foot platform where the rider stands. Every hour left in the sun gives the rider a one mile ride using just solar!


My number three in cool solar stuff is a tent! The Orange Solar Tent for campers is a tent of the future.. It “captures the rays of the sun via photovoltaic solar threads woven into conventional fabric.” The tent has a wireless control hub to provide WiFi, wireless charging and an underfloor heater to keep you warm when the temperature drops in the middle of the night. Or if you’re looking for a solar tent and don’t want to wait for the Orange Solar tent with all its amenities, Eddie Bauer (yes, Eddie Bauer!) is soon putting a tent on the market with a built in solar charger. The Power Katabatic has a solar charger built in to the top of the tent that folds with the tent when stored. A battery inside charges from the solar pad allowing you to plug in and recharge your USB devices. The whole thing, tent and all, weighs about 8 pds. states, “this is a good way to introduce your tech savvy kids to the out of doors without completely shocking them with a world of natural beauty that’s not made of pixels.”–(umm, maybe the shock would be worth it though, letting their minds drift to the quiet place only mother nature can provide!)


Last but not least, is my solar flashlight. I have had this flashlight for about 10 years. It’s left in my car in the hottest and coldest of temperatures and it still works like new. I have never owned such a trustworthy flashlight.  I lay it on the dashboard of my car and it is charged in minutes, holding a charge for hours!

If you want to make your own solar stuff, there are many websites that will guide you in your creativity. Good Luck!