Just what we needed dept: An LED lamp powered by a candle

Lumir LED lamp
© Lumir

The heat of a small tea light candle in the Lumir C is used to generate electricity, which then powers its LED bulbs.

Lloyd usually covers the 'just what we needed dept,' but I can't really let him have all the fun, so in the spirit of 'just because we can doesn't mean we should,' here's an LED lamp that doesn't need batteries or a plug, but instead uses tea lights to generate electricity.

This lamp doesn't have a cord or battery pack to light up its LED bulbs, but it does need a steady supply of tea light candles, which each provide about four hours of illumination, thanks to the inclusion of a device that takes advantage of the thermoelectric Seebeck effect to generate electricity from the heat of the candle. According to the company, a single candle puts out about 1 lumen, but when coupled with the Lumir C, the lamp produces about 15 lumens from its LED bulbs, in effect multiplying the illumination of a tea light to a level bright enough to read by or to light up a table.

The company behind the Lumir C lamp proclaims its eco-friendly nature by saying that because batteries "have been causing severe pollution to environment," and the Lumir C doesn't use any, "it is free from that problem." Well, it is free of the battery problem, but it's still got an embodied energy and materials problem, as well as a paraffin-based candle problem, and instead of a clean light, it produces a light with added carcinogens and soot from the wax. Of course, you could use 100% beeswax tea candles for this, which are claimed to be less harmful to burn in an enclosed space, but one look at the price tag on those might discourage most users.

However, for emergencies and power outages, and in areas without regular grid access (but with easy access to tea lights?), the Lumir lamp may have an advantage over using kerosene or multiple candles for lighting, and can help avoid issues with battery life and solar charging. But at $69 each, for either the Lumir C or the Lumir Spot (with directional spotlight LED bulb), this candle-powered lamp isn't exactly cheap, and spending the $70 on a decent solar charger, battery pack, and LED light could be a much better use of that money.

Having said that, the Lumir C is a home accessory likely to fit right in to your decor with its lighthouse-like shape and handful of color options, and is virtually guaranteed to be a conversation starter at your next gathering. Just don't claim that it's eco-friendly.

Tags: Gadgets | LEDs | Lighting

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