These devices help solar lighting move beyond the flatness of traditional photovoltaic cells.
About four years ago, we shared the news of Kyosemi's Sphelar domes, which employ solar "micro-spheres" to allow for near-360° photo-receptivity of the sun's rays, and while an interesting development in solar electricity, this technology wasn't readily available to consumers outside of Japan.
However, Sphelar Power Corporation has just launched a campaign to promote its Lantern and Stick products internationally, both of which use the solar micro-bead cells to break out of the flatness in solar lighting, and combine LED technology, solar charging, and beautiful design into a renewably powered option for both the home and the outdoors. The Lantern has been for sale in Japan since 2011, and the handheld Stick since the summer of 2013, but the products haven't been available for export yet. The latest version, which includes an updated design that makes the Sphelar Lantern lighter and water resistant, will go to backers of the Kickstarter campaign sometime in January 2017.These two solar lighting products take advantage of the unique properties of the Sphelar micro-spheres, which allow for the harvest of the sun's rays from any direction, as opposed to the traditional flat solar cells, which must be perpendicular to the sunlight to generate electricity. The micro-spheres lend themselves easily to the rounded shape of the Lantern and Stick, and makes for an all-in-one solar lighting solution that is designed to be both functional and beautiful.
"In comparison with conventional flat solar, Sphelar® is less dependent on the angle of incoming light and more productive in terms of energy yield. That is why Sphelar® enables application of solar even where conventional solar doesn’t make any sense. Some academic researches testify that Sphelar® delivers better performance in unfavorable conditions like in cloudy day or in high latitude regions." - Sphelar
The Sphelar Lantern, which requires 4-6 hours of sunlight to fully charge the internal battery for a 4 hour runtime, is meant to sit in a sunny window or other bright area with the solar beads facing up during the day, where its hourglass design with hardwood accent will look right at home in just about any room. Turning the Lantern so the light is facing up turns on the warm white LED bulb, and the solar micro-sphere section becomes a stylish base for the device. The device can also be charged via a mini-USB port.
The Stick is more of a personal light, and is meant to be used as a flashlight with its bright white focused LED bulb, which is said to be effective enough to be used as a bike headlight (and to be the right size to fit "many available bicycle flashlight brackets"). For a half hour's worth of light, the Stick needs 6-8 hours of sunshine, with multiple days of charging necessary for the full 4-hour runtime said to be possible, so it's more like a task light than a practical room light.
Here's the video pitch:
There are no other specs publicly available on the devices (solar cell capacity, battery capacity, LED bulb wattage), but the Kickstarter campaign offers the Stick to backers at the $129 level, and the Lantern to backers at the $349 level. More info at Sphelar.