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10 Unusual Solar Products for Green Cities

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Jane Marsh's picture

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

  • Member since 2020
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  • Nov 21, 2022

People have used solar products for decades to power their homes and businesses. And while solar panels are a common sight in green cities, there are various unexpected places where you can find this renewable energy.

From solar trees to roadways, here are 10 unusual products that use solar power.

1. Solar Trees and Forests

Solar trees are a great way to power street lights and traffic lights. These days, solar trees are becoming more common in urban areas. People can also use them on private property for security lighting and illuminating decorative gardens.

Additionally, you can find solar forests installed in cities throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Dubai even has a 135-meter-wide energy tree made from 97% recycled steel.

2. Solar Benches

Solar benches, also known as solar charging stations, are a great place to plug your phone when you need a boost. They’re made of recycled plastic and can charge phones and other small devices. They also power lighting systems for parks and public spaces.

Solar benches are easy to install as well. You can lay them out on the grounds in a park – and that’s it! Public places where many people walk by and can use them as they please are a great fit.

3. Solar Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

A solar ultrasonic pest repeller is a safe and effective way to deter pests inside and outside peoples’ homes. This product uses sound waves to repel rodents, insects, and other common pests without harming people or pets.

It’s easy enough to install and takes just a matter of minutes. Some models even have built-in sensors that automatically turn the device on at dusk and off at dawn.

4. Solar Traffic Lights

Solar traffic lights are a relatively new product that cities use to reduce CO2 emissions, traffic congestion, and energy costs.

The technology behind solar traffic lights is simple. Solar panels on top of each post power the LEDs. The panels capture sunlight and convert it into electricity that charges a battery inside the control box at the base of each post.

When they sense enough charge, they activate an internal switch that powers all three signal colors simultaneously.

5. Solar Bus Shelters

Solar bus shelters provide a reprieve from the rain, sun, and wind. As such, they're an excellent option for cities with a large amount of inclement weather.

Solar bus shelters power the structure’s lights at night, which improves safety. Additionally, people can use them to charge mobile phones while waiting for the bus or after disembarking from it.

Furthermore, heating systems within the shelters can utilize this same energy source to heat a room within the bus shelter during colder months. People can especially use these more regularly during heavy snowfall or other adverse weather conditions.

6. Solar Carports

Solar carports are special concrete structures built to harness solar energy and provide an extra layer of protection for vehicles.

These structures are typically attached to the side of a building or over a parking lot. They feature a series of sloped glass panels aimed to direct sunlight onto photovoltaic cells. In this way, carports generate power while assisting with the conservation of resources by providing shelter and shade for cars and people alike.

Solar carports also act as electric vehicle stations, where EV drivers can charge their vehicles at home or work.

7. Photovoltaic Pavement

Photovoltaic pavement converts light into electricity, just like regular solar panels. However, instead of attaching it to an upright structure, these panels are embedded in the pavement.

Therefore, it generates enough power to light street lamps and traffic signals. While this technology has been around for some time, it’s still amazing to see how these road panels generate clean energy while regular traffic passes safely and smoothly overhead.

8. Nearly-Invisible Photovoltaic Cell

Rather than installing panels on a building – or carrying out inspections to ensure the installations are a good fit – this thin film makes a great alternative. It’s designed to be an aesthetic match for most buildings while generating power.

Essentially, they can go on any surface and could eventually power skyscrapers using little more than illuminated surface area.

9. Flexible Photovoltaics

Another unique solar product is what’s known as a flexible photovoltaic cell. You don’t need to install them, as you can travel with them wherever you go since they’re thin and lightweight. You can even fold them up like a piece of paper.

Unlike traditional solar panels, they don’t require additional infrastructure or maintenance costs. And they can power all sorts of things, like emergency lighting and home appliances.

10. Solar Window

Solar windows are already featured in some of the buildings you see today. These glass panes are special because they have a coated, thin layer of semiconductor material. This material allows them to capture energy from the sun and generate electricity.

Combating Climate Change for a Brighter Future Ahead

It’s exciting to see how solar-powered products will continue to evolve and expand. While there are still many challenges to overcome, it’s safe to say that there is a brighter future ahead.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 21, 2022

Such cool possibilities when innovative people put their mind to it!

Jane Marsh's picture
Thank Jane for the Post!
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