Image via Nokero
One small solar lightbulb is looking to be the solution to replace billions of polluting kerosene lamps. According to the Nokero Solar Light Bulb manufacturers, over 1.6 billion people still use fuel-burning devices to get illumination, most of that in the form of kerosene. Fuel lanterns emit 190 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. Yet this little bulb with four small solar panels attached purportedly provides five times the light of kerosene lamps while using 1/200th the energy consumption. It could be a very interesting solution, if it weren't for two substantial problems with the design. First off, we love how compact the bulb is, and how it incorporates solar panels. It can easily be hung from a hook outside the house for daytime charging and then hung anywhere it is needed inside. It also uses five LEDs, which offers plenty of light even from this small bulb. However, there are a couple issues.
Unpluggd writes, "The Nokero solar light bulb isn't going to win any design beauty contests, " and while that's true, it's not the main problems.
First, the bulb only provides two hours of light for one typical daily charge. It can offer as much as four hours of light for a full charge, but that's only if you're letting it charge for two or more days. Two hours of light might be enough during the summer, when there are plenty of hours of natural light, but during the winter or in places that get less light, families would need to have a handful of these just to have a light through the evening. That isn't really a replacement for fuel-burning lanterns.
Also, the bulb only offers "two-plus years of battery life." A light that only lasts around two years? For people living in developing nations? That is definitely not long-lasting enough.
The concept for the bulb is fantastic. We adore designs that are intended to provide sustainable solutions for significant problems, like burning dirty fuel for lighting. But this one kind of misses the mark in some important ways.
However, if you like the idea and think that this could be handy for you on camping trips or other situations, they're priced at $15 each and go down to $10 when you buy in bulk.
UPDATE: Tom Boyd from Nokero wrote in with some extra facts that bolster the argument for the usefulness of this little bulb. He states:
The average use of a kerosene lantern is 1.5 hours according to a study for the United Nations, available here: http://light.lbl.gov/pubs/tr/lumina-tr5.pdf (page 20 footnote). Therefore a solar light lasting 2 hours should be sufficient to replace, if not severely reduce the use of, a kerosene lantern.
The battery is replaceable and inexpensive, which means the light can last much longer than 2 years ... the solar panels are rated to last 10 years and the LEDs last between 50,000 to 100,000 hours. So the life of the bulb is something more like 5-10 years.
If true, then perhaps this Solar LED bulb from Nokero can replace kerosene lamps in a viable way. And that is a very, very good thing.
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