Solar power is undoubtedly the wave of the future. Because solar panels are coming way down in price, you’ll see more and more homeowners proudly sporting shiny energy-saving devices on their roofs, hoping to make a dent in their power bills.

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But what about renters? Large-scale solar solutions, like rooftop panels, are designed for people who own their own homes. You can’t very well install your own solar panels on top of an apartment building.

Fortunately, for apartment dwellers who want to go solar because it’s green, or even if it’s just to save a few bucks on energy bills, there are some solutions out there. You probably won’t be able to go totally off the grid, but that’s OK – every little bit helps. You just have to think smaller.

Let the sun charge your small appliances

Portable appliances, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and e-readers, are a big part of our lives now. Because they’re so small and efficient, it doesn’t take much juice to charge them, which is why they’re perfect for solar energy.

This iPad is being charged up with solar power.
This iPad is being charged up with solar power.

There are plenty of solar chargers for small appliances on the market, ranging in price from about $13 all the way up to nearly $2,000. They’re easily found at electronics stores and online. Just place the charger in a sunny spot and connect your small appliance to it – you’ll be all charged up in no time, and your energy bill won’t get any bigger.

You might see apps for your smartphone claiming to charge your phone just by placing it on a windowsill, but don’t fall for them – those apps are hoaxes. You need a separate device if you want to charge by solar.

Find a small solar panel and just plug it in

Solar has come a long way. Not too long ago, your only option was to buy an expensive array of panels, which was cost-prohibitive for most people. But now, solar manufacturers have realized it’s better to go modular – meaning that you can buy just one portable panel that’ll cover some, but not all, of your energy needs, and you can add more panels as you can afford them.

Portable solar panels are simple to use: Just plug them into a power module (which comes as part of a kit), plug the module into an outlet, and place the panels in a sunny spot. The energy harnessed from the sun will be fed directly into your apartment’s wiring system, so you use less grid-supplied energy for your household needs.

There are panels of all sizes on the market, and you can choose the right setup depending on how much energy you use and how much money you want to sink into it. Depending on the model and size, expect to pay anywhere from $20 for one small panel to several thousand dollars for a full system that’ll take you completely off the grid.

Even better: When you move, you can take your panels with you.

Want more green living inspiration? Check out our Pinterest board It’s Easy to Go Green!

Now that costs are down, would you consider going solar for some of your household energy needs? How would you do it?

Photo credits: Shutterstock / jcjgphotography; Flickr / Documentally

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About The Author

Courtney Craig is an editor and writer for the Apartment Guide Blog. She rented apartments for 12 years in 4 cities before buying her first house in Atlanta. Find Courtney on Google.

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