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Solar chargers, speakers, weather radios, wireless accessories, medical devices, toys and other trinkets were on display at the Consumer Electronics Show 2013 at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas.

The annual CES fair is always a hit with gadget fans, and, increasingly, it contains a string of products for those living off grid.

There is rarely anything groundbreaking, just the slow game of catch-up between the ease and comfort of off-grid life compared to grid–connected homes

Star gadgets this year included a GoalZero solar powered Yeti 150. This solar charger is designed to be used in the great outdoors – and is strong enough to power lights, electricals and even fridges.
It has built-in AC inputs, 12V inputs and even USB ports. Expose it to 20hours of sunlight and it’ll be fully charged, ready to give you power wherever you are. A utility class Yeti1250 solar generator kit is also available. The smaller unit is $199.00. The larger unit is in stores now and runs about $2000.00 with solar panels.

This bad boy will see your smartphone thru a weekend

If all you want is a quick charge to give you a couple of hours until you can get to a wall socket, go with something small, inexpensive and lightweight like the 1,800 mAh Triple C Power Mate Plus ($29 in the United States), which plugs directly into an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S; the company, Triple C Designs, is working on one that will be compatible with an iPhone 5. The Power Mate Plus is about the size of a woman’s compact, weighs 1.2 ounces, or about 34 grams, and comes in a variety of decorative designs.

The 2,200 mAh MiPow Power Tube ($39) is compatible with a wider range of mobile devices and will completely charge a smartphone. Encased in what looks like brushed aluminum, it weighs 2.5 ounces and is the size of a cigarette lighter. There are larger-capacity Power Tubes, up to the 5,500 mAh version ($99), which weighs 4.8 ounces and can charge a smartphone a couple of times or charge a tablet 50 percent.

A larger footprint and more heft will provide even more charging capacity. Take the HyperJuice Mini ($100), which is about as big as a smartphone but thicker, weighs 8.4 ounces and delivers 7,200 mAh. It has the advantage of multiple charging ports so two mobile devices can be charged at once as long as they are USB compatible.

HyperJuice offers battery chargers with progressively larger capacities up to 61,000 mAh ($450). That charger is about the size of a thick paperback book and weighs 4.7 pounds, or about 2 kilograms. It is compatible only with Apple products but has enough oomph to keep a MacBook going for 32 hours, to extend iPad battery life an additional 89 hours or to fully recharge an iPhone as many as 52 times.

For those who prefer not to juggle one more device, there are charging sleeves or jackets that snap onto the devices themselves. Mophie is the leading provider of iPhone charging cases with its popular Juice Pack Air ($80). It has a 1,500 mAh capacity and adds 2.5 ounces to the weight of an iPhone 4 or 4S. An iPhone 5 version is expected early this year.

For Android users, there is PowerSkin, with 1,500 mAh charging cases for a variety of smartphones. They range in price from $40 to $80, with some selling for as little as $5 with shipping if the model has been discontinued.

If you want an iPad charging case, there is the KudoCase ($130), which relies partly on solar power. It converts outdoor and indoor light into energy for a continual trickle charge. Just know that six hours of sunlight offers only about an hour of iPad time, so you will still need to recharge the case occasionally by plugging it into an outlet.

Brush Buddies toothbrushes
Now you can even brush your teeth Gangam-style.
These cleaners play music from charttoppers like Psy as you’re scrubbing away.
Aimed mainly at kids, also available in Bieber and Lady Gaga versions.
The AmpJacket case
THIS acoustic amplifier claims to make an iPhone twice as loud.
A great idea which saves you having to carry mini speakers with you on weekends away.
But if you do prefer to carry a pair with you, why not try the Matrix Qube pocket speakers.
They look like dice – but are a bit bigger. Worth a gamble…
A Soul Party In A Box
Pocket-lint: wireless kit to dock your device on the front and pump out tunes. It’s retro, with big nobs and dials to excite studio fans.
It costs around £750 and is out now.

integrating energy harvesting wireless technology from EnOcean, making the use and changing of batteries in automation devices unnecessary.
Texas Instruments demonstrated examples of EnOcean-based smart home devices in action and showed how they control a house by only using energy from the surrounding environment.
The energy harvesting wireless technology from EnOcean is based on a simple but brilliant principle: where there is motion, light, pressure, heat or differences in temperature, small amounts of energy can be harvested and used to transmit a wireless signal.
Instead of using batteries or another external power supply, wireless EnOcean modules are powered by energy converters: an electrodynamic energy converter, which uses mechanical motion, a miniaturized solar module which generates energy from light, as well as a thermoelectric converter which taps heat as an energy source.
Products integrating energy harvesting wireless technology range from batteryless switches, sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, motion and light, and actuators to move HVAC dampers or radiator water valves. All these products are distributed throughout a home to control lighting, HVAC, security or energy consumption eliminating the need for batteries while offering high flexibility and reliable, maintenance-free operation.

No need for docks when you have a solar keyboard
The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 for Mac product range adds Bluetooth connectivity with an easy-switching capability. It also allows you to simultaneously pair to multiple devices and quickly switch among them with the push of a button. All the while, it is designed to minimize its environmental footprint. Its integrated solar cells recharge using indoor or outdoor light, and it has PVC-free packaging and a fully recyclable box.

Also the LogitechSolar Keyboard Folio:

The LogitechSolar Keyboard Folio provides stylish front and back protection for the third-generation iPad® and iPad 2. Its built-in keyboard connects to your iPad with Bluetooth, and it charges by light through on-board solar panels. You can type on it for up to two years when fully charged, even in complete darkness.

And another favorite – pictured below – the Solar boombox from Eton. The portable speaker system can play for about 8 hours and recharges in 5 hours.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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