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Renewable gadgets review: Off-grid in Norway.

April 21, 2017

Inspired by the range of renewable gadgets that are currently on the market, we decided to get our hands on a few of them and test them out. What better place than Scandinavia, the leading place for green policies and attitudes, to truly experience being off-grid. For a week, it was just EthiCo, a campervan and the Norwegian countryside. So here's how we got on!

 

 



1. Lighting.

Charlie Dimmock Solar Firefly lights. £1 from poundland. http://www.poundland.co.uk/charlie-dimmock-firefly-solar-light

Price: Excellent!

Ethically sourced materials: N/A

Type of renewable energy: Solar

Ease of use: Simple and lightweight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its great to see these lights available in poundland at such an affordable price. They can be easily left outside during the day and used in the garden in the evening. They are sturdy and easy to carry and hardly weigh a thing if you want to take them with you when you're out camping. These came in very useful when we needed a bit of mood lighting to eat our dinner with outside, but if you need to use it as a torch, the light isn't quite strong enough. It does exactly what it says on the tin but it would be useful to know what materials were used in the making of these. This information has been hard to come by and so cannot be sure on how ethically they've been produced. All-in-all they are great little product and would recommend getting a few for the garden but may need something stronger to use as a light while out camping. 

 

2. Charging.

BioLite solar panel with built in battery. £82.43 from BioLite.

https://www.bioliteenergy.com/products/solarpanel-5-plus

Price: Good

Ethically sourced materials: Uses an ethically sourced supply chain.

Type of renewable energy: Solar

Ease of use: Lightweight and easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a must have for camping. The solar panel is very easy to carry and easy to attach the outside of your bag. All you have to do is enjoy your walk and the panel will be charged enough to charge your phone. The battery has a capacity enough for keeping your phone topped up while you are away. If you are staying anywhere on your journey, you can rest it on the ground and use the sun dial to put the panel in the perfect position for charging. The only downside is of solar rather than the panel, as it depends on weather conditions. As a panel, it is great but it would be useful to have another source of renewable electricity in case the weather plays up. The company itself are doing amazing things with getting their gadgets to the countries that need them most and have ethically sourced all of their materials for their products. Its great to see an ethically minded company that are providing affordable products around the world. Check more out here about what they are doing as a company. https://www.bioliteenergy.com/pages/mission

 

3. Cooking.

BioLite CampStove 2. £134.95 from BioLite.

http://www.bioliteenergy.com/products/campstove-2

Price: Good.

Ethically sourced materials: Uses an ethically sourced supply chain.

Type of renewable energy: Thermoelectric generator.

Ease of use: Easy to set up and a good weight.

 

 

 

The CampStove has just been upgraded to the CampStove 2, which solves the small issues we had when taking the previous model to Norway. The one seen in the picture does not contain a battery, and it took slightly longer than expected to start charging our phones. However, this new CampStove 2 has an on board battery and improved thermoelectric technology for more power. I look forward to trying these improvements out in the future! The technology in the CampStove is fantastic, and it was very simple to set up. On the first night, we used standard cooking gas to compare the ease of it to cooking with the CampStove. We found them to be just as simple, all it required was some kindling (we used some tissues for this) and some nearby twigs. The fire got going instantly and every now and then we topped it up with some more twigs. We would recommend being prepared and getting the twigs in advance, just in case it rains when you want to cook and the wood is wet. The only thing that would have made this easier was a built in battery, which it now comes with. It is still as easy to carry around as a bottle of gas and as easy to set up. This is a great tool and is a good price for the keen camper who would go through several gas bottles a year anyway.

 

4. Making the perfect coffee for your EthiCo cup.

12v Kettle from Streetwize. £21.59 from:

http://www.selectsolar.co.uk/prod/983/car-kettle#prod_det_tabs

Price: Great.

Ethically sourced materials: Manufactured in the UK to good QC standards.

Type of renewable energy: Not renewable, but uses 12v battery from car whilst driving.

Ease of use: Easy to use and lightweight.

 

Technically this isn't renewable and we don't recommend turning on your car to make a cup of coffee. But if you are on a long journey anyway, this can be a great addition. We thought it would take a lot longer to boil the water but it standardly took about 10-15 mins. It comes with a mounting bracket if you are using your own car, but we just got the passenger to hold it to keep it safe. Its cheap to buy and very easy to use. It is produced here in the UK and the company are part of the WEEE scheme to responsibly get rid of electrical waste and the Packaging Waste Scheme to contribute to national recycling costs.

 

 

BioLite KettleCharge. £99.95 from BioLite.

http://www.bioliteenergy.com/products/kettlecharge

Price: Good.

Ethically sourced materials: Uses an ethically sourced supply chain.

Type of renewable energy: Thermoelectric generator.

Ease of use: Quick and easy to use and a good weight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the easiest of all our gadgets tocharge our phones. We used the CampStove as the heat source and the KettleCharge easily fit on top. The great thing about this product is that it can be used anywhere, whether you're out camping or at home on a regular hob. We were lucky enough to be in a beautiful location and use water from the glacial lake (note, boil or treat water like this to make it safe before drinking). It started charging almost instantly and the in built battery allowed us to keep charging once the water was boiled. This again took a standard time of 10-15 mins to boil the water and was simple to use. The shape of it allows you to pack it away in a bag without it taking up too much room. Just be careful as there is no lid and some water can leak if not stored correctly.

 

 

These are just a selection of what is available on the market but we have tried to test out a range of quality and prices. We advise getting products that use a range of renewable technologies to account for all weathers and times of day. Although most of these are intended for off-grid use, there is an emerging presence of using renewable technology in our everyday lives. At EthiCo, we aim to test them out for you and give you a real account of how they work and where you can buy them. Follow us on social media to find out when we are testing the next lot out.

 

 

 

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