Terry and I would love to take advantage of Colorado's 300-plus days of sunshine by adding solar panels to our home, but don't have an extra $20K in the bank to pay for it. That's why I splurged and paid $100 for this little gadget instead--the Solio universal charger. Using solar panels, it recharges most gadgets, including most cell phones, PDA's, Apple products and digital cameras. I figured getting off the grid for even a little bit is better than nothing.
Unfortunately, Solio's lack of reliability makes me regret this purchase. We keep the gadget propped in our bedroom window, where it gets plenty of sunshine to charge. But, for whatever reason, I've had about 50% success rate for charging my cell phone with the device. Even though the device says it is fully charged, sometimes when I plug my phone to it, nothing happens. Plus, it takes twice as long to charge my cell phone with Solio than with a conventional charger.
So my Thrifty Green Thursday tip is put your $100 in savings for solar panels instead of buying a Solio. To learn some more tips, click here.