About a billion people live without electricity, and they often turn to kerosene lamps: ultra dangerous, carcinogen-spouting, open flames that could turn homes into tinderboxes. So a new Indiegogo campaign’s out to provide safe, reusable lights that need zero outside energy sources.
It’s called GravityLight, and it’s kind of like those hand crank-powered camp lanterns you see at Bed Bath & Beyond, but instead of 10 minutes of manual cranking, the light is powered by gravity.
It looks kind of like a pulley hanging from the ceiling. You lift a 25-pound weight (rocks, sand, whatever) by pulling down on a beaded cord. After the weight has reached the top and you let go, it slowly descends, powering a drive sprocket and gear train that lights an LED. Once the bag hits the floor, you repeat the process. The light lasts 20 to 30 minutes each cycle.
On top of being fuming death traps, kerosene lamps are a cash suck: The GravityLight team says they can consume up to 30 percent of a family’s income. GravityLight, on the other hand, costs less than 10 bucks. The campaign is specifically targeting families in developing countries who don’t have access to electricity, with special attention to Kenya, where they hope the product can create jobs for people who can manufacture and sell the lights.
The Indiegogo campaign’s closing in on about half of its $199,000 goal and has a month to go. This current project is actually for the second version of the light. Last year, the team got a trial batch of the lamp funded, which was tested in nearly 30 countries. This time around, the light is brighter, easier to use, longer lasting, and stays lit while being charged.
Gravity for good is a force we can get behind.
Image credit: GravityLight 2 Indiegogo page