In Pictures: 13 things to do with the sun besides getting a tan

How technology is bringing out the best and the oh-so utterly worst in solar innovation

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Patio umbrella Most “solar-powered umbrellas” use solar panels to power LED lights at night. But the SolPower 9000 Patio Umbrella uses top-mounted panels to power two USB ports built into a table-high mounting. Power storage keeps them humming on cloudy days. Buyers love it. “I love, love, love this,” posted Amazon customer Lisa Forhan, in Feb. 2014, “not only because it looks great on my deck and keeps my Kindle, phone and laptop charged when I'm relaxing outside, but because…I was able to bring it back out during a recent ice storm and keep my devices charged.” Lists for $199 but currently on sale at Amazon for $156.67. Note: It doesn't come with a base, which may run you another $25 or so.

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In Pictures: 13 things to do with the sun besides getting a tan

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