Small-scale solar for small electronic devices
In 1960, Ed Bender saw his first solar-powered radio in New York City at the RCA Corporation.This radio amazed Bender, who had never before thought about powering things with sunshine. In the ’80s, he started playing around with small-scale solar panel systems to see what he could do with them. He ended up building his own small solar radio by modifying an AM/ FM headset.The idea for a company sparked when he realized he could also use solar to power up other small devices such as cell phones and computers.
Bender, president of Sundance Solar Products Inc., launched his company in 1995 after developing a small solar-power supply for portable electronic devices. He then got a patent and started to manufacture this and other products and sell them online and on eBay. He eventually expanded to selling on Amazon.
Today, Sundance Solar sells a wide array of solar items: solar battery chargers; solar bags that allow you to carry and charge devices; DIY solar and wind kits to power portable electronics, appliances, boats, cabins, and more; and other innovative devices. Customers can also buy small solar panels to create their own clean power source to meet their needs.
“Solar is clean, convenient, and very cost-effective for small devices, [especially] if you are replacing disposable batteries,” says Bender.
Bender is most proud ofSundance Solar’s educational kits for elementary schools, high schools, and colleges.The kits help teachers and students learn all about creating solar energy. He says he loves to work with teachers to see what they want to accomplish in their classroom and come up with something within their budget.
When Bender started his company, there were very few companies selling solar services and products to people who wanted to experiment with solar panels. Sundance Solar was one of the first, he says.
Bender knows that solar is the future, because it’s clean, it’s free, and it doesn’t contribute to global warming. So he’s constantly coming up with new ideas for solar devices and gadgetry.
“I’ve seen a lot of needs [solar can fill], and I have always strived to meet them,” he says.
Sundance Solar also helps grow international programs. For example, in 2015, Bender took a trip with some US science teachers to South Africa to help bring solar educational programs to the townships around Cape Town. The program is now continuing as Kwelanga Solar and is training young people to teach solar educational classes at the schools. In addition, using grant money, University of Haiti students came to the US to receive solar and wind power equipment from Bender for an educational program they were starting.
“I hope Sundance Solar can continue to help encourage the use of solar energy, and other renewables by educating children who are the future leaders around the world,” he says.
Free, abundant solar power is also ideal for providing power in crisis situations.When Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, Sundance Solar supplied the Red Cross with solar lights and phone chargers for its relief efforts in the country.