What’s better than free? With the right gadgets and devices, you can do more under the hot summer sun without spending a dime on batteries or utilities.

As much as you can save and help the environment by installing solar panels on the roof of your home, that’s not the only way to harness the free power of the sun. Look into the range of solar-powered devices available today and think about adding a few to your collection this year.

Outdoor Solar Lighting

For economical outdoor lighting that is both functional and attractive, it’s hard to beat solar. There are so many types of lights available, from stake lights you can use to illuminate walkways to wall-mounted lanterns for entrances and gardens. While some of these lights offer sophisticated settings, sometimes the simplest are the best -- they store sunlight during the day, turn on automatically after sunset and gently fade to black as their energy runs out in the middle of the night.

Portable Solar Lighting

Even though the outdoor lighting described above doesn’t require any wiring, you probably wouldn’t take those lights off the beaten path. But with solar-powered lanterns and flashlights, you can see in the dark wherever you roam without chewing up a set of batteries. Let these handheld lights sit idly in the sun when they’re not needed, and they’ll be ready for you when it’s time to find your way in the dark.

Solar Weather Radios

It’s a must for any power outage preparedness kit: a battery-operated multi-band weather radio with a solar strip and, preferably, a power-generating hand crank. With three ways to provide energy, you can always stay on top of the latest weather developments or tune in to local AM and FM stations to find out what’s going on in an emergency.

Solar Chargers

Not all of your favorite devices will have integrated solar panels, but you can still keep them running with the help of a solar charger. Mobile phones, laptops, tablets and more can be charged anywhere the sun is shining with these handy all-purpose panels.

Solar Wearables

If you want to make an environmental statement and a fashion statement at the same time, you can choose your solar charger in the form of clothing and accessories. Shirts, hats, sunglasses, backpacks and even bikinis are being manufactured with built-in solar panels, allowing you to carry battery power anywhere, even if your pockets are empty.

Solar Cooker

Not all solar-powered devices use electricity. To harness the power of the sun in its rawest form, purchase or build a solar cooker: an outdoor oven that uses reflective surfaces to cook food with zero fuel. These cookers are difficult to master, but once you get the hang of them, you can grill, boil, fry and bake without so much as a charcoal briquette.

If these devices don’t deliver enough sunpower for you, call up your licensed, local electricians to discuss options for integrating solar power into your home.