5 Ways To Get Solar Power Without Putting Panels On Your Roof

You don’t need a roof lined with panels to reap the benefits of solar power.

April 20, 2017
Five ways to use solar power even if you don't have solar panels.
Matt Rainey

Residential solar power is booming in the United States. Last year, the number of solar instillations in the U.S. hit 1 million—impressive, when you consider that there were just 30,000 solar homes 10 years ago. And consumer interest is soaring: a 2015 survey showed that 6 million Americans are now considering solar for their homes. 

If you’re one of those 6 million, visit the site of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which helps you suss out what system makes the most sense for your situation, or see WholesaleSolar.com, which has tons of resources for the would-be solar panel owner.


But not all homes (or bank accounts) can accomodate solar panels. Happily, there are other ways to tap into solar power. Here are five ways to go solar—no panels required.

(On just a quarter-acre of land, you can produce fresh, organic food for a family of four—year-round. Rodale's The Backyard Homestead shows you how; get your copy today.)

Sunport Solar Power Converter

Five ways to use solar power even if you don't have solar panels.
Matt Rainey

The Sunport harnesses rays to charge any device that plugs in, regardless of whether you have access to panels. The Sunport measures your device’s energy use and then purchases the equivalent amount of energy from certified solar farms.
$60; sunport.co

Solar Sharing

Solar sharing programs let you use solar panels without having to install one at home.


Even apartment dwellers can tap into the sun’s power. With solar sharing, you lease a panel in a garden run by a commercial operator, or buy power from a solar farm partnering with a utility The producers feed power to the electrical grid, adding back the juice you take. Solar typically costs less than conventional power, and the environmental benefits are real. And if you move, you’re not stuck in a lease or with rooftop panels you can’t take with you. 


Lattis Ellipse Solar Powered Bike Lock

This solar powered Ellipse bike lock taps into the power of the sun to keep your bike secure.
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com

The sun-powered Ellipse pairs with your smartphone so you can open your bike lock without a key. It uses your phone’s accelerometer, an internal doodad that measures when and how your phone moves, to detect theft and crashes and sends you or one of your “trusted contacts” an alert. Twelve hours of solar charging gives you six months of power.
$199, Amazon.com

Boost Solar-Powered Backpacks

Solar powered backpacks use solar energy to charge electronics when you're on the go.
Photograph courtesy of BirkSun

Carry your stuff and charge your phone, or any USB-connected device, with a Boost backpack from BirkSun. Its rain-resistant fabric comes in six colors, and the attached solar panels are waterproof so you can take it on even your most adventurous outings. Four to five hours of sun exposure will load the built-in battery with enough power to fully charge a smartphone.
$99-$144; birksun.com

Kentucky Home Led Mason Jar Solar Light Inserts

Light up your porch or garden with solar powered inserts that turn a mason jar into a lantern.
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com

Light up a garden plot, patio, or walkway with a hanging solar-powered Mason Jar inserts, which transform standard-sized mason jars into lanterns. Insets come in packs of three—you can use your own jars and hanging handles separately.
$15, Amazon.com