At the end of the year, thoughts of gifts dance in our heads, whether for others or to treat ourselves.
Electricity offers a fun way to brighten gadget choices this gift-giving season. Here are four electric ideas to add pizazz to your holiday shopping list.
Healthy French Fries?
Electric air fryers have been around since 2010, but their popularity started taking off about five years ago. As health-consciousness increased, people liked the idea of cookers that could prepare traditional fried favorites with much less oil. Sales bumped up even more as the pandemic kept people home and paying more attention to their cooking.
Air fryers aren’t really fryers but high-heat convection devices used to replicate traditional recipes, such as chicken tenders, egg rolls, potato chips, fried vegetables and apple fritters.
Walk the Talk
Walkie-talkies are an old technology for staying in touch that still works great for businesses, conference coordination, or hiking and camping. They can help keep a caravan of cars and trailers together. Children can figure out games, such as hide-and-seek or scavenger hunts.
There are even walkie-talkies in the shape of cartoon-character heads. They can be bought for as little as $50 for a set of four.
Shop carefully and know what you will use them for—the range can vary from a half-mile to 20 miles depending on the type of model—and whether they will be used indoors or outdoors.
Hit the Road
Electric vehicles aren’t just cars and trucks anymore. The sidewalks of college campuses and downtowns are shared with electric scooters. You also can go off-road with an electric all-terrain vehicle.
If that doesn’t sound like it fits your idea of zooming through the woods, consider that EVs are a lot quieter, whether you’re out for hunting or bird watching.
If you were born to be wild, you can head out on the highway on a battery-powered motorcycle. An electric Harley boasts instant 100% torque, electronic safety features and the ability to use your smartphone to check battery status and track your motorcycle if it’s stolen.
A portable charger may be one of the least-exciting gifts you can give or get, but you will change that thinking when your phone is about to die as you hike over a hill and see a sunset vista to photograph—or the power goes out during a storm.
A word of advice: Charge it up the day before. The smallest ones tend not to hold a charge for the several weeks they sit in a drawer waiting for the next event.
Shop carefully and know how you want to use the device. They come with a variety of features and prices.
Solar-Powered Gifts and Gadgets
By Maria Kanevsky
The sun has an incredible amount of energy—more than we could ever fully harness. Fortunately, an array of solar-powered gadgets and devices can help you take advantage of this free source of energy. These technologies are a great way to power everyday things for free by simply using energy from the sun.
When you want to bring your music outdoors, solar-powered Bluetooth speakers are the perfect solution. Many Bluetooth speakers can be recharged with a USB port and electrical outlet, but solar-powered speakers are easily recharged by sunlight.
As long as the sun is shining, the speaker won’t run out of power. Most solar-powered speakers include a backup battery.
When shopping for a solar-powered speaker, be sure the speaker can handle the proper outdoor terrain. For example, if you’re planning to take the speaker to the beach, make sure it is water-resistant.
Step Up to Solar Grilling
As an alternative to a charcoal or gas-powered grill, the solar-powered grill is another great way to cook meals outdoors.
One of the most popular solar-powered grills is by GoSun, which uses a solar vacuum tube to absorb light while also providing insulation. Using solar heat, the parabolic reflectors focus sunlight onto the vacuum tube. The tube can then convert about 80% of the solar energy into heat.
There are many occasions for using a solar-powered grill, such as traveling, camping and even during a power outage. The internal temperature can typically reach up to 550 degrees, while the insulation makes it cool to the touch on the outside—an important safety feature.
Prices for solar-powered grills range from $150 to $300, making them comparable to gas-powered grills.
Walk This Well-Lit Way
For an easy, low-maintenance approach to light up your lawn and walkways, solar pathway lights—and other solar décor—are a great addition. Outdoor solar lights come in a variety of styles and can be used to decorate your outdoor space in different ways. They can be used as an alternative to traditional lights and offer several benefits.
Once installed, solar lights run on their own and work relatively maintenance-free. Solar lights are powered by batteries that can run all night if the panels receive enough sunlight during the day.
Solar lights are wireless, so there is no need to search for an electrical outlet. You can buy solar lights for $5 to $20, depending on the size and design.
No More Winding Necessary
Keep track of time with a solar-powered watch. A small solar cell underneath the dial converts the solar energy into electrical energy, with excess energy stored into the rechargeable battery.
As long as the watch receives a moderate amount of sunlight, the battery doesn’t need to be replaced for up to 10 years, which is much more convenient than replacing the battery roughly every year for conventional watches. Solar-powered watches cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000, depending on their design.