Green Gadget Gift Review

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling, always looking to forward the cleantech revolution discussion, is proud to present this video segment via a cross post from partner energyNow! Author credit goes to Patty Kim and Thalia Assuras.

With the holidays approaching, it’s time to think about presents for loved ones. Gift options abound, and it can be tough to tell which will be a hit and which are destined for the return line.

energyNOW! correspondent Patty Kim researched this year’s coolest clean tech gadgets to help figure out which ones will help your friends and family go green.

image via energyNow!

Since cellphones and tablets are so popular, the Changers Solar Charger is worth reviewing. The kit contains two components – a flexible solar module which can hang on a window and a rechargeable 16-watt battery. Four hours of direct sunlight will fully charge the battery and provide enough juice to recharge most handheld electronic devices twice.

The solar charger sells for $149, and also tracks the energy you produce. The results will be tweeted and stored, and converted into credits to be redeemed in the Changers online marketplace.

If you prefer to generate power on the go, the Voltaic Systems solar laptop charger backpack may be ideal. Three 3.4-watt solar panels attach to a universal battery, and one hour of sunlight will run a laptop for 30 minutes while 90 minutes will fully charge most cell phones. The backpack is waterproof and durable, but heavy at 5.5 pounds, and retails for $389.

Charging devices is great, but reducing utility bills is becoming more important during the economic downturn, and that’s where the Nest Learning Thermostat comes in. From the makers of the iPod, it applies the same easy-to-use principles. After a week of installation, it learns your cooling and heating preferences, and constantly incorporates new adjustments. The Nest is currently on back order, and sells for $249, but is worth checking out for fun energy-saving features.

What about the kids in that energy-efficient home? The H-Racer 2.0 is just like any other remote-controlled toy car on the market, except for one aspect – it runs on hydrogen. The solar-powered refueling station only requires water to create a chemical reaction that releases oxygen into the air and hydrogen into the gas tank. The process takes about 60 seconds for a 10 minute charge. The H-Racer retails for $119 and is great for anyone interested in alternative energy or science.

Last, but not least, commuters should consider the Stromer electric bike. It’s one of the most powerful e-bikes available, with a 600-watt rear-hub motor, and has two modes of power. Pedal-assist mode provides a boost for riders when they’re heading up hills, while the power-on-demand mode will cruise at 20 miles per hour without any pedaling. The 36-volt battery can charge onboard or separately, and takes five or six hours to fully charge, but provides a 45-mile range on pedal assist. The Stromer is expensive, however, costing $3,399.

The full video review is available below: