Can you feel it? It’s almost time for backyard barbecue season. Despite the fact that Colorado was buried in snow on the first day of this month, our bi-polar weather has shifted again, and the past few days have approached 80 degrees. That means I’m searching for the sunscreen while tripping over the ski boots that have yet to make it to the closet.
If things are warming up in your neck of the woods, you’re probably brushing off the patio furniture and planning Memorial Day festivities. This year, instead of the same old canvas umbrella, impress your tech-loving friends with the first available-to-buy solar-charging parasol from Hammacher Schlemmer.
Although we’ve featured solar-powered umbrella concepts in the past, few (if any) have made if off the drawing board and into the mainstream market. From a distance, the Hammacher offering looks like any other patio umbrella, but upon closer inspection, the secret to its power generation comes quickly into focus.
Four slender solar panels are woven into the umbrella’s 9′ diameter canopy convert sunlight into electricity which is accessed via two USB ports in its pole. A rechargeable 3.7-volt/1000mA backup battery provides power even in overcast conditions, ensuring a constant supply of power. And although the sun’s rays will be great for your smartphone or tablet, they won’t burn you: according to Hammacher the umbrella blocks 98 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays for a UPF rating of 50+, the highest attainable.
So what if the weather doesn’t cooperate? The company claims the canopy is built to withstand wind gusts and the lightweight yet sturdy 8′ L aluminum pole and spreaders have a powder-coated finish for weather resistance. The electronic components are even weatherproof, so you don’t have to worry about leaving them outside during a summer cloudburst.
Available in green (how appropriate) for $499.95