Sundance Solar Products

Ed Bender is living the Green American Dream—he turned his passion for tinkering into a thriving business that helps keep toxic batteries out of our dumpsters. Around 1990, Ed discovered the wonders of solar power and started devoting most of his time to fiddling with small solar-powered devices. He played with solar devices, took them apart, repaired them, and even came up with some of his own designs.

In 1995, he turned this skill into a business when he founded Sundance Solar Products,Inc. Sundance Solar provides rechargeable batteries, solar-powered battery chargers, small solar panels, educational kits, and many other products to customers who want a high-quality, environmentally conscious product that helps save energy andkeep the planet healthy. Ed and his small team of employees connect customers with products made by other companies, while also building battery chargers and custom-made solar devices for interested customers.

“Basically,” says Ed, “folks let me know their needs, and I find a solar solution for them. “In addition to selling solar-powered alternatives to our daily necessities (like battery chargers and alarm clocks), SundanceSolar also provides solar-powered gadgets that can serve as an exciting introduction to solar power for both children and adults—products like solar-powered race cars and solar-powered sun tea makers (the jar has a solar-powered motor that stirs the tea, making it brew faster).

While helping consumers harness solar energy, Sundance Solar is also contributing to the scientific and economic development communities: Sundance Solar recently provided solar-powered laptop systems to a team of National Science Foundation scientists on the Antarctic Peninsula, and Hewlett-Packard has teamed up with Sundance Solar to bring solar-powered cameras and printers to rural India, wheretechnology is being used in small communities to explore possibilities for business and social development. While Ed Bender isn’t losing focus on the domestic uses for solar power, his recent experiences have helped him realize the myriad ways solar power could be used in developing countries. “A small amount of energy can make a big difference,” Ed says. “There are a lot needs, such as residential or school lighting that could be met with small solar-powered devices.”

—Sarah Tarver-Wahlquist