Anything that has something called a “sacrificial anode” gets our vote for cool tech. What exactly is that? It’s the metallic rod on the bottom of this device—Solar-Clear—that floats in your pool and uses solar energy to release copper and zinc ions in the water to keep it clean. According to the manufacturer, this method can reduce chlorine use by up to 80 percent. At recwatertec; $249.95
Post caps have long added architectural details to a deck. In addition to increasing the visual interest of your outdoor space, they also light up at night to provide gentle illumination. An added bonus: they’re easy to install! Just slip them right over your deck railing's existing posts. At improvementscatalog.com; $39.99 (Set of 2)
If certain uninvited "guests" are enjoying your sun-soaked backyard a little too much, this might be the gadget for you. The Solar Moler emits periodic sound and vibration pulses that supposedly scare off mice, gophers, moles and more. It’s weatherproof and works around the clock so you can sunbathe without a peep from little unwanted distractions. At northerntool.com; $29.99
This ingenious umbrella does triple duty. By day, it shields you from the sun while simultaneously storing the power of the rays in a solar battery. Then, by night, it draws on that stored energy to power 24 LED lights to keep the party going into the wee hours. At Hayneedle.com; $109.98
The sun’s not usually associated with keeping cool, but this neat little gadget does just that. This portable Life Gear Solar Fan runs on nothing but the sun’s energy. With three distinct settings, it can also get a charge from a USB adaptor or send one out to a USB-connected phone. At walmart.com; $20.00
The glow given off by many solar lights is often too dark to see one foot moving in front of the other on a backyard path. This ingenious invention makes it easy to go dancing in the dark because the lights are the path. These stone lights turn on automatically at dusk and turn off at dawn. Each stone can hold up to 250 pounds. At homedepot; $57.20 (3-Pack)
The Etón rukus Solar speaker shines above other models on the market, thanks to its e-ink display that can be read even in the brightest daylight. It relies on the sun for its daytime power and manages to store plenty of energy to keep the beats thumping for up to 8 hours after dusk. It can even charge USB-connected phones purely on sun power. At etoncorp.com; $149.99
Most solar backyard lights are installed as accent lights or landscaping features. The Lexon Greenman Outdoor Light is a full-on lamp you can place on a picnic table or anywhere else you need a burst of brilliance. It does more than look cool, however. It also works in an interesting way—flip it over during the day to charge, then flip it back again at night and it’ll automatically turn on. At giftswithstyle.com; $54.26
Even though this Wireless Weather Station operates on rechargeable AA batteries, it’s charged through solar panels, so batteries shouldn’t need to be replaced. The main unit gets installed inside your house (preferably near a good light source) and the small sensor goes outside. It then provides indoor/outdoor temperature and humidity readings along with record highs and lows. At lacrossetechnology.com; $44.95
If you're looking for more on green solutions, consider:
12 Ways to Put Your Home on an Energy Diet—TODAY!
Aggressive Energy Savings of Passive House Design
Money-saving, time-saving—and yes, sometimes even life-saving—the latest and greatest smart home technologies span from self-programming thermostats to voice-activated TV controls to video doorbells and beyond. Raise your home's IQ!