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Solar car vents keep you cool

With the school year winding down, parents look ahead to plenty of hot summer days out on the road with the kids in the car. Just how hot those days can be may not hit you until you open the door of a car that's been baking for hours in a parking lot. The fun really starts when the little ones have to get in.

Credit: Digital Kitchen
An outside view of Susita's TO-230

In these fuel-conscious times, when consumers may think twice before cranking the AC, one alternative is a solar car ventilator. Susita makes a model called the TO-230. It's basically a small fan weighing 1-1/2 pounds that goes on top of a car window, with a solar panel facing outward.

The solar panel, which is 5 inches by 4.5 inches, powers the fan, which exchanges hot air inside the car for the presumably cooler air outside. If you park in the shade and want to use the fan, there's a plug-in adapter for the car. One retail Web site says the fan can reduce your parked car's interior temperature by 25 degrees, though that's not much solace considering another Web site cited 160 to 180 degree temps inside a parked car on a sunny day.

Pricing varies online. Digital Kitchen lists the fan for $34.95 in its "Dads & Grads" sale, down from $49.95. Carol Wright gifts carries solar fans for $29.99. AmeriMark listed them for $14.99. Or try your luck bidding on eBay.