As solar energy became more affordable over the previous decade, more and more environmentally-friendly products, like solar shades and blinds, have flooded the market. Solar water bottles are one such example of innovation in this sector, with applications in hiking, camping, and other off-grid situations.
However, there isn’t just one type of solar powered water bottles currently available for purchase. Competing designers and manufacturers have endowed their recipients with different technologies and functions. In what follows, we’ve reviewed some of the most popular products and presented our stance on whether or not each of them is worth the investment.
Solar Powered Water Bottles: Uses and Types
Solar water bottles are a relatively new concept, so all of the items mentioned here are essentially prototypes. The latter are either in their testing phase or in pre-production, which is to say that they are not yet being mass-produced. Still, it is very likely that we will have access to reliable solar powered water bottles in the near future, which makes this the perfect time to get acquainted with the new technology.
Fontus: The Self-Filling Solar Powered Water Bottle
Back in 2016, the Austrian startup Fontus initiated a kickstarter campaign for two ingenious solar powered water bottle models. The difference between the two and a normal water bottle was that the Fontus recipient could fill itself by drawing water from the air. According to the designer, you could generate no less than 0.5L of water per hour by using this product, which would have been more than enough to sustain a person in an off-grid, survival situation.
Like solar lanterns, the Fontus solar water bottles were addressed primarily to hikers and cyclists who often traveled off the grid. The two models were the Fontus Airo and the Fontus Ryde, the latter of which was intended as an accessory for bikes. While the Airo could condense water in a special chamber while connected to a solar panel, the Ryde was designed to use the airstream from a running bike to support an integrated cooler and, ultimately, the same process of condensation.
Both models were thought out as compact and light-weight products that could easily be carried in a backpack or on a bike. Their main advertised advantage was that they could provide lifesaving water in the harshest survival situations, but also that they would allow people to go off-grid without having to worry about otherwise heavy water supply.
Our Verdict. Unfortunately, although the Fontus crowdfunding campaign was a success, neither of the two products is ready for mass-production at this point in time. What’s more, once additional studies were conducted on the effectiveness of these solar powered water bottles, it was determined that the recipients could not generate the quantities of water initially advertised. Overall, while the idea for the Fontus Airo and Ryde remains a valid one, the two bottles still need work before they can be used reliably.
Hydrade: The Solar Powered Smart Bottle
Hydrade recipients are solar water bottles with two main functions. On the one hand, these bottles feature double-wall insulation that can keep beverages cool for 22 hours or hot for 13 hours. They are conceived as an environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional bottles, which is why they are made with stainless steel, rather than plastic.
Secondly, Hydrade solar powered water bottles come with integrated sensors that are charged when exposed to sunlight and that track the quantities of water going in and out of the recipient. The bottles can be synced to health apps, smartphones, and activity accessories like the Fitbit or Apple Watch (but unfortunately not to any existing solar watches) to measure and display your overall water consumption.
According to these measurements, the bottle lets you know if and when you should drink more to stay properly hydrated. Your optimal hydration requirements are calculated based on your gender, height, weight, and age, but also depending on your geographical location and the weather conditions you are more likely to experience in your region.
Our Verdict. Bazaarian’s kickstarter campaign for Hydrade solar powered water bottles has just recently ended in May 2019, so it will be another several month before the product is delivered to its first buyers. However, tests conducted thus far have been promising and the recipient appears to be overall useful and reliable. In addition, the designer has pledged to donate a sum of money to Charity: Water for every liter of water consumed by owners of Hydrade bottles. In short, by using this recipient, you can keep your body hydrated and help others with every sip. Pop one in your solar backpack as soon as you can!
LightCap: The Solar Powered Illuminating Bottle
LightCaps are solar water bottles that can serve multiple functions in off-grid situations. These BPA-free plastic containers can store up to 1L of water at a time, while their light-weight build makes them convenient for hikers and campers. Furthermore, the recipients are designed with a very wide mouth, which means that, when they are empty, you can use them to store valuables in an air-tight compartment. This can be particularly useful on boats or in rainy weather.
A third feature is the volume scale printed on the side of each bottle, which allows you to use one or more LightCaps to mix liquids with precision. Finally, the lid on these bottles is equipped with a solar panel on top and a set of four super bright LEDs and one red LED on the bottom. With the help of integrated reflective lens, each recipient can become a camp light or an emergency light during nighttime.
The FastSolar panel is fairly efficient and will guarantee a minimum of 4 hours of lighting when properly charged during the day. The bottle can be cleaned using a dishwasher, but the lid must be removed beforehand to ensure its longevity.
Our Verdict. The forte of LightCaps is their incredible versatility. These solar powered water bottles are not as efficient as proper solar lanterns, but they can be lifesavers in emergency situations where no other light source is available. According to most reviewers, the recipients are durable and reliable, which is a big plus for this type of product. Combine one with your favorite solar escape hat today!
How Do Solar Powered Water Bottles Work?
The three models for solar water bottles mentioned above fulfill different purposes, but they are all based on solar energy. In other words, whether these recipients attempt to condense water from air, keep track of the owner’s water consumption, or serve as a solar lantern, the basic technology that powers their features is that of PV solar panels.
Solar panels are built with special materials, most commonly with silicone, that can efficiently convert sunlight into energy. The electricity generated by them is then stored into small, integrated batteries that can be used during nighttime when the panels no longer have access to suitable light. How long these bottles can function on a full charge depends on several factors, including the size of the battery and the nature of the task they perform.
For example, the Hydrade recipient uses only a few sensors and can, as such, work for several days on a single charge. Meanwhile, LightCaps must operate up to 5 LEDs at a time and can, therefore, work for several hours only before the battery is depleted. Like with most solar-powered appliances, it’s essential to consider whether your solar water bottle will get enough sunshine exposure to function properly.
Should You Get a Solar Powered Water Bottle?
Before you buy any of these innovative items, you should weigh the factors that can affect their performance in your region, as well as your specific requirements. For instance, in the case of the Fontus self-filling solar powered water bottles, you should bear in mind that, if you intend to use the recipient while traveling off-grid, you might not be able to generate sufficient water for your daily needs by using the bottle alone. Still, the latter can be connected to a conventional wall outlet to condense significantly more liquid, so if you intend to use it at home for purified water, the purchase might make more sense.
Hydrade solar water bottles are far more reliable, but they are hardly useful in survival or off-grid situations. On the contrary, they are designed for quotidian use in urban environments where water is abundant and where they serve the sole function of helping owners stay hydrated. If this is your goal, a Hydrade bottle is a perfect choice. Alternatively, you could opt for a LightCap recipient, whose multiple functions and versatility are a definitive advantage for campers, hikers, and bikers.
Like with solar fans, whether or not you should buy solar water bottles depends mostly on your intention for these products. Different types of recipients come with different features that are only useful in so far as they suit your needs. In addition, since most of these bottles are still being tested and re-designed for higher efficiency, it might be a good idea to avoid situations where you depend on them completely – at least for the time being.