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    Summertime is solar time

    submitted by Dara Bortman, Exact Solar, www.ExactSolar.com

    Summertime is here. With longer days, families have more time to take advantage of the weather and the sunshine.

    As you plan outings, keep in mind that the solar energy is there to do more than power your home or make you sweat!

    For a long time people have enjoyed using the sun’s energy to do simple things like make solar tea.

    Thanks to what is known as thin film PV (photovoltaic) technology, you can now use solar energy anywhere to do even more, just like you would in a solar powered home. These flexible panels are available by themselves, packaged for mobile use.

    Many models have USB ports included. Even if you want to put away the phones during vacation, it still helps to keep them charged if ever urgently needed.

    Hiking? This technology is also incorporated into certain backpacks.

    Going to the beach? Solar power can keep your food and beverages cold.

    A wide range of portable solar power packs are on the market, many of which include batteries. Some cost about the same as an average cell phone.

    Combine them with a refrigerated cooler and you’re all set. You can even buy portable Bluetooth speakers or complete radios with built-in solar technology.

    Going camping? There are larger systems designed to provide more power.

    Many incorporate the flexible technology, while some use the more traditional and efficient rigid technology like you see on rooftops.

    These are either rollable or hinged and foldable, making them easily transported. Once set up at a campground or RV park, a family now can charge during the day for use at night.

    All of these devices are well developed and tested.

    If you have watched any of the dozens of reality TV shows and wondered how their cameras keep rolling, solar often is the charging source.

    You might even illuminate your nightlife by using solar string lights or solar lanterns and flashlights.

    And like making solar tea, you can also cook with a solar stove using direct sunlight.

    So if you are planning a week at the Jersey shore or time at your favorite park, let solar power energize your stay.