We write about a number of different kinds of solar gadgets here at TreeHugger, but some of my favorite pieces are ones that cover small-scale solar power units and how they can not only give light and electricity, but can actually change lives while doing so.
Light and power are two things we take for granted in our modern culture, and even if they are provided for by burning coal, they seem clean and safe to us at the point of use. We simply click a switch and have instant illumination, for as long as we want it for playing, working, eating, studying, or just for comfort.
But in many places, a kerosene lantern is the sole source of light, and burning one not only costs a fair amount of money, but it also fills rooms with toxic soot. Imagine having to deal with that the next time you need to study past dark or want to click on the light in the middle of the night.
Access to reliable, affordable, and clean lighting can make a huge difference in both health and overall quality of life in the developing world, including such other side effects as helping with education and illiteracy efforts by making it possible to study after dark.
The nonprofit Unite to Light is working to make it even easier for people to have the gift of light through the development of their Solar USB Charger LED Light, which is designed to provide a portable and rugged light and charging source for cell phones and e-readers.
"With your help we will be able to continue to provide an alternative to kerosene, and in addition, we give someone the possibility of charging their cellphone and e-reader sustainably. In developing countries a cell phone is someone's lifeline. Cell phones improve profits for small business owners and farmers, are a cheaper and faster way of communication, increase productivity, and provide many other benefits we take for granted." - Unite to Light
The project is live on IndieGoGo right now, with a goal of raising $12,000 in order to make the molds and prototypes needed to produce their first batch of chargers. The newest iteration, the UTL-C, is an integrated 1.2W solar panel and 45 lumen LED lighting unit that uses a 10Wh lithium battery and USB charging port to provide power to other portable devices.
If you'd like to support the production of this solar light, there are some great Perks for contributors, including your own UTL-C unit and the option to "give one, get one" to benefit a family in need somewhere. Get the details here: Unite to Light - Solar USB Charger LED Light