I think that we who live in cities, be it on any continent in any city, tend to not realize that there ARE places in the world where there is NO electricity and people do not have light — other than that of the sun.
And we who live in cities have so much light in the sky at night that we don’t even realize…
how very dark the night really is.
Those who live in non-electrified places can wake with the sun and go to sleep with the sun — but there are still issues such as:
- going to the bathroom before bed or in the middle of the night
- a mother needing to get up in the night to feed an infant
- a parent needing to tend to a child
- a person needing to work until dark and then find his/her way home
- boats needing to cross a lake or ocean or river in the dark
And I think it’s common knowledge that thieves, rapists and kidnappers take advantage of the cover of darkness.
Light is dear
As I traveled places such as rural India years ago I realized how dear light is. How important a light source is. And as I traveled rural areas in 2012 I realized it all over again — and found that the situation is not much different.
I wondered about solar years ago. Today in villages that I visited or learned of, one family typically has a solar panel and it creates enough electricity for that family to charge cell phones or small devices for a small fee. But solar does not yet really light homes, let alone provide electricity for entire villages.
Solar light solutions
Upon my return, when I mentioned my relied-upon, well-loved Energizer® Solar™ LED Flashlight solar and wind-up flashlight to my caring friend Lorrie, and also told her that I left my flashlights with my 9-year-old tour guide in a village in Panama. They use batteries so they are not a sustainable solution, but I had them so they could help a bit. However, I really want to see a sustainable light solution. I so much wanted to see low-powered solar-charging lights.
Then Lorrie showed me her Luci. I haven’t had an opportunity to live with one, rely on it, and put it through real-world stress tests, but it certainly looks promising. The design is brilliant if it is durable.
I wish I could bring one to every home in the world that is without power. Alas, I cannot. So I share this with those of you who read my blog in the hopes that each of you will consider finding a way to bring light to even just one person. It may be easier than you think. I list some ideas here, below.
Nearly half the world’s population lives in virtual darkness
I found this statement at mpowerd.com/order:
“Nearly 1.6 billion people around the world lack access to electricity, the majority of which live in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Another 1.5 billion have irregular access to the grid. This means that nearly half the world’s population lives in virtual darkness and relies on dangerous and costly sources of lighting. The lack of light at night is more than just an inconvenience – this is life in energy poverty.”
Ways to give light
MPOWERD’s Give Light Program. MPOWERD always has a way to help you give a Luci light.
If you’re not into travel yourself, purchase any reliable solar light and bring it to a person who travels to villages in need. Perhaps you can find a Peace Corps volunteer, a doctor/nurse/dentist who goes to villages like this, or an off-the-beater-track traveler.
If you’re a traveller, this is easy. Simply leave your own light behind. Hopefully, you are traveling with a reliable solar light. And if someone you meet is heading home, ask for his/her light too, so you can find a new home for it.
- Make one of your last stops a village that needs light.
- Find a Peace Corps volunteer. Lonely Planet mentions when a hostel or hotel hosts them.
- Keep an eye open for medical volunteers or other volunteers. You might ask around at hotels because they may host such volunteers.
Solar lights you can buy
Here are some solar lights to consider. The specs I list are from their respective product pages, so be aware that they may change.
Energizer® Solar™ LED Flashlight
This is my own beloved travel light.
- Rechargeable batteries powered by
- solar panel or cranking
- Carabiner Clip to hang light where needed 5 Hours of full sun powers light for ~2 Hours (I don’t know what “~” means.)
- 1 minute of cranking powers light for 4 minutes
- And my own comment:
it’s small, not heavy, and is easy to carry.
- Charge time of 8 hours yields a minimum of 6-12 hours of light
- Luci charges under direct sunlight and even under incandescent light
- Maintains a single charge for 3 months
- Ten white Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) with 4000 mcd light source
- Two brightness levels to conserve battery life
- Flashing-light setting for emergency situations
- Delivers up to 80 lumens providing 15 sq ft of light
- The rechargeable lithium polymer battery pack can be charged while collapsed or expanded
- 300 – 500 cycle life
- Over charge/discharge protection
- Over current and short circuit protection
- Water Resistant PVC enclosure
- Minimum lifespan of 2 years
- 4.5 Ounces
- 5″ Diameter
- 1″ Height Collapsed
- 4″ Height Open
- Open Panel Dimension – 3.35″x3.35″
- Dual Energy Source – Rechargeable batteries powered by solar panel or car adapter
- 5 hours of charging in the sun provides 3.5 hours of run time
- 2 hours of charging with AC car adapter provides 1 hour of run time
- Water Resistant
- And my own comment: it’s a large area light but it isn’t small to carry to a village
- Dual Energy Source – rechargeable batteries powered by solar panel or 3 D Alkaline batteries
- Choose bright area light or amber night light setting
- Folds out for 360° illumination or down for 180° light
- Solar panel folds out to maximize sun exposure for charging
- Powerful enough to light a room or campsite
- 5 hours of charging in th esun provides 2.5 hours of run time (high mode)
- 3 D alkaline batteries provide 165 hours of run time (high mode)
- And my comment: good room light. Towns can get batteries. Hopefully a leaky battery doesn’t destroy the light. I don’t know.
Not solar, but wind-up
Energizer® Carabiner Crank Light
The Energizer Weatheready® light
is powered by a windup crank and I think, is made to withstand water, but I don’t know how well.
- 3 Bright white LED’s
- 7 lumens
- 26 meters
- Convenient carabiner clip
- 1 minute of cranking provides 3 minutes of runtime
- Push button switch
- Runs on rechargeable batteries
- My comment: from reviews, I don’t believe you can count on the battery to store much power. However, I believe it will provide good light when you need it and can be counted on for that.
If you have first-hand experience with another solar light that you recommend, I hope you will note it here as a comment for others to know.