Though many of the technologies introduced in recent years in the field of solar power and energy have focused on the generation and distribution of electrical energy using sustainable and renewable methods, there have been those that seek to eliminate the need for electrical energy in certain areas altogether. That is, instead of using the sun to generate electrical energy, these innovative ideas seek to use the power of the sun directly, without converting it into electricity. These ideas range from ideas in home design and positioning to cookware and other household appliances that typically run on electricity.
One of the most common forms of non-electrical solar power is passive solar home design. In order to maximize heating and air conditioning, home designs are now monitoring the location and positioning of the house to allow for the sun to directly heat the house. Then, in warmer seasons, when heat is no longer necessary, the material within the walls that is built to collect solar power can be made to reject it. This helps to cut costs of electricity that is typically required to heat and cool a house.
Other ideas include the GreenPan products which use the heat of the sun to cook food. This can be done by positioning the cookware in a place where sunlight can strike it for most of the day. The sun can then heat the surface of the cookware just as easily as electricity could. You can make dinner without using a single kilowatt-hour!
Another recent invention came from Emily Cummins in the United Kingdom in the form of a refrigerator that operates on the principles of evaporation. It requires no electricity and can be manufactured using cheap, available materials.
Of course, these are not the only items that utilize solar energy. There have also been designs for hot water systems powered directly by the sun. The water can be heated during the day, when the sun is out, then stored in an insulated tank and used when the sun is down. Again, no electricity is required for such a system, though a backup electrical-powered or gas-powered booster system is sometimes required if there are long periods of time without sunlight. Even still, this energy source is only accessed when absolutely necessary.
Again, as mentioned, there are thousands of innovative ideas for utilizing solar energy without involving electricity. And there are probably many more to come.