Solar Reading Lights

Purpose-Built Solar Reading Light designed at UC Santa Barbara

Unite to Light Logo1.5 billion people do not have direct access to electricity and rely on kerosene, candles or firewood for lighting.  Lack of suitable home lighting is directly linked to illiteracy, poverty and heath problems. Too many children are burned or impacted by house fires linked to lighting.  Lighting should be safe, clean and affordable to all.

The Unite-to-Light project started with a visit from Pastor Kofi Fosuhene and Osei Darkwa to Santa Barbara.  They explained that many people in Africa, who rely on kerosene for reading, suffer health problems and financial hardship.  Aware of the work done at UCSB's Institute for Energy Efficiency on high-efficiency LED lights and high-efficiency solar cells, Fosuhene and Darkwa asked if the Institute could design an affordable reading light.  Although many solar powered flashlights are available, they were interested in reading lights because of the problems related to children and education, a focus for both men.

With assistance from Engineers without Borders, John Bowers, David Schmidt, Norm Gardner and Jock Bovington set about to solve this problem.  After going through several designs, the first samples were sent to Ghana and met with great enthusiasm.  Unite to Light is  now engaging with other organizations to supply solar-based lighting to the developing world.

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