Lorna Li
Lorna Li
The school year is already starting for many around the country, and although the weather is still hot, many folks are getting ready to settle into their normal routines of school and work. But just because the lazy days of summer might be drawing to a close doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy a few more weekends on the patio, tinkering around with fun projects or sipping a cold lemonade. If you aren’t ready to surrender your time in the summer sunshine just yet, here are three fun and easy DIY solar projects you should try before winter:

Solar USB charger

recycle altoids solar usb charger

USB ports have made it exponentially easier to standardize electronics chargers and transfer digital information between devices. But what about when there isn’t an outlet available? Solar chargers are very popular, but they cost an average of $50, which is more than anyone should have to pay for a charger. Why not take Instructables guru Joshua Zimmerman’s advice and use an old Altoids tin to make your own for less than $20 instead? See materials needed and directions here. If you don’t want to run around collecting these supplies yourself, Zimmerman sells a DIY kit for this project on his website, BrownDogGadgets.com, for just $16.99.

Solar lawnmower

solar lawn mower

Depending on where you live, mowing the lawn could be a year-round chore. Traditional combustion mowers are noisy, emit greenhouse gases and require expensive gasoline to operate. Electric mowers are a quieter, cleaner alternative and cost far less to operate. If you’ve already switched to a battery-powered mower, it just takes a few easy alterations to make it run on solar power. Find instructions here.

Solar grill/stove

solar oven

Photo: Flickr/StationaryHobo

There’s just something about food cooked on a grill that tastes better, whether it’s August or January. If you’re tired of using coal- or gas-powered grills to cook up your steaks, why not let the sun do the work instead? These instructions and an hour of time are all you need to build a solar grill using a cardboard box, some black paint and aluminum foil.

Lorna Li is the Editor-in-Chief of GreenMarketingTV, where she regularly reports on renewable technologies and entrepreneurs in the home solar industry. Read Lorna’s take on solar panels here.