For all the mobility of the modern age, we spend a lot of time tethered to

For all the mobility of the modern age, we spend a lot of time tethered to stationary outlets, charging batteries. To help set you free, or just give you a way to charge a device in the great outdoors, we’ve pulled together a list of the best solar chargers out there. Solar chargers tantalize us with the promise of freedom – freedom from wall outlets and  from power bills, juicing up batteries and smartphones by soaking up the sun’s rays. Solar chargers tend to fall into three styles: Power banks that have a solar panel attached, stand-alone solar panels for charging outdoors, and a few options that combine these two, pairing larger fold-out panels with a power bank. For on-the-go use, smaller power banks may be more convenient, but any solar capability offered by putting a single panel on the face of a portable battery is going to be limited. Solar-capable power banks can recharge entirely by sunlight, but it may take up to a week of sunny days to do so. Instead, these pocketable power backups are meant to be charged like any other power bank, but exposing the charged bank to regular sunlight will help keep the battery topped off. These external batteries do boast s...

Early adopters of LED lighting will remember 50,000 hour or even 100,000 hour lifetime ratings printed on

Early adopters of LED lighting will remember 50,000 hour or even 100,000 hour lifetime ratings printed on the box. But during a recent trip to the hardware store the longest advertised lifetime I found was 25,000 hours. Others claimed only 7,500 or 15,000 hours. And yes, these are brand-name bulbs from Cree and GE. So, what happened to those 100,000 hour residential LED bulbs? Were the initial estimates just over-optimistic? Was it all marketing hype? Or, did we not know enough about LED aging to predict the true useful life of a bulb? I put these questions to the test. Join me after the break for some background on the light bulb cartel from the days of incandescent bulbs (not a joke, a cartel controlled the life of your bulbs), and for the destruction of some modern LED bulbs to see why the lifetimes are clocking in a lot lower than the original wave of LED replacements. Any discussion of light bulb lifetime would be incomplete without mention of the Phoebus cartel, an international organization formed in 1924 by the world’s leading light bulb manufacturers to manipulate the bulb market. As discussed by Markus Krajewski in “The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy”, the cartel assigned ...