So what do you get the certified “greenie” on your list? Human-powered flashlights are a great idea. They don’t have much to do with green building, per se, but they can help in emergency situations. Some will even charge your cell phone and other accessories, cutting down on “phantom loads” from constantly plugged in chargers.
The concept is pretty simple: a hand crank or pumping action turns magnets which generate power. There are even models available with clear bodies, so you can watch the action. Some have a battery to store the energy, and some do not. With new LED technology, just a few cranks can power the flashlight for 20 minutes or more.
The feature I think is cool is the availability of ports to plug in cell phones and other electronic devices. This is a great way to charge up without having to take power off the grid. Free energy!
These flashlights are great for emergency kits, both on the road and in the home. Some have a radio, sirens, etc. If you ever get stranded with a dead car battery, and your phone is dead too, this would be the device to have. With winter weather as unpredictable as it is, you never know what will happen, or where.
For those of you who may not want to work for your power, there are models available with DC power connections, so you can charge the battery without the workout.
Photo courtesy of epromos.