Nearly 130 years after Thomas Edison created the first marketable incandescent light bulb, nearly two billion people around the globe still live their lives without a steady supply of electric light. The problem is not light bulbs, of course, but living off the grid.
Nokero’s solar light bulb.To generate light, these people do what those without electricity have always done: burn something, mostly kerosene. But kerosene is a dirty fuel: studies show that breathing fumes from indoor kerosene use is the equivalent of smoking two packs a day.
The cost of producing light, when compared to electricity from the grid in any American city, is also astronomical: $3 to $11 per kilowatt hour. Aggressively expanding the electric grid in Africa, Asia and South America would solve the problem, but that is unrealistic, at least in the near future. Yet there is another solution: decentralized renewable electricity systems. For lighting, solar panels can charge batteries and power conventional lamps. But there are other solutions, too, like a solar light bulb recently unveiled by Nokero, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer.
The design resembles a souped-up incandescent bulb, but in fact the device is a self-contained lantern using an array of light-emitting diodes, or LED’s, and several small strips of photovoltaic panels. Read more…