By its very design, technology is meant to make our lives easier. While inventions such as electricity, cars, and even the Internet unmistakably lessen our daily burdens, it can be difficult to pinpoint in what ways renewable energy helps us—apart from saving energy, money, and the environment, of course. At Home Improvement Leads, we love gadgets that simplify our home lives, so we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favorite solar tech products that really do make life easier.

Photovoltaics (traditional solar panels)

If you mention solar power to a group of friends, the first thing that springs to nearly everyone’s minds will most likely be solar panels. While they’ve been around for years, standard solar panels (photovoltaics or PVs, as they’re called in the tech world) are becoming more efficient and less expensive all the time.

How do photovoltaics help make our lives easier? In addition to straightforward installation and very little maintenance over the years, PVs take the stress out of energy use in the home. Linkable smart technology systems can monitor and adjust your energy use settings and make your solar panels work with just the touch of the button—but that’s not all. After 15 to 20 years, your energy savings will have paid off the initial costs of your panels, thereby making your home entirely self-sufficient when it comes to energy use. We don’t know about you, but we think that a life in which you don’t have to worry about paying your energy bills is definitely an easier one.

solar powered home

Solar chargers

Even though our technology filled world is awash with outlets, charging stations, and even lockers designed to juice up our smartphones and tablets, there are still some places where regular electricity just isn’t available. Solar power comes to the rescue in the form of clever chargers that can be mounted to windows or unfolded and used just about anywhere. These kinds of chargers come in all shapes and sizes, but we are particularly fond of the pocket sized variety that can be easily transported in order to charge your phone on the go.

solar charger

Solar powered backpacks

If portable solar chargers aren’t technologically advanced or trendy enough for your travel needs and personal style, there is another way to give your handheld appliances the power they need on the go. Solar powered backpacks come in many different designs and styles from a variety of brands. Many of these backpacks are attractive and affordable, giving you the opportunity to have stress-free and connected travels, from camping trips and hikes to city breaks and festivals.

solar backpack

Solar powered exterior lighting

While more of us are investing in traditional photovoltaics all the time, solar panels still seem relatively out of reach to the average homeowner. However, many of us have been using solar power in more subtle and affordable ways for years, making our residential lives a little easier. Solar powered exterior lighting is convenient and efficient, keeping pathways and backyards well lit at nighttime without cords and standard electricity. Solar exterior lights come in a variety of styles, including footpath lanterns, security lights, wall lighting, and decorative strip lighting. The best part about solar powered exterior lighting? There’s no need to remember to replace light bulbs on a regular basis.

solar lighting

Solar water heater

Although it sounds complicated, the technology behind solar water heaters is actually very simple and involves the use of small rooftop photovoltaic panels, heat collectors, and transfer mechanisms that convert heat fluids into household water. While this particular solar gadget is most often used in developing countries where grid based energy is not always readily available, solar water heaters can be beneficial to your own home as well if you want to decrease your water bills and further increase your home’s energy efficiency rating. With simple installation and very little maintenance, we think that this solar gadget is the next logical step after standard rooftop PVs.

solar water heater

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