Solar Light Design Project

The goal of this project is to provide portable, reliable, safe and renewable light while providing participants an opportunity to learn the basics of solar charging circuits and engage in an ongoing design process. The lights can be pre-built or, with proper tools, built with a remote community. Multiple sets of these lights have been designed and built in collaboration with students at Lick-Wilmerding High School. Each year, with the input from students and observations in the field, a refined design is created. 

In the spring of 2008, the first set of thirty-three lights where built and delivered to communities in Ethiopia and Senegal.  Since then, more than 100 lights have been created and delivered to various parts of Africa and the Philippines.

The lights use a single LUXEON 1 watt LED and can provide about 15 to 20 minutes of very bright light per hour of charge.  Power is provided by a single rechargeable AA battery with a small voltage step up circuit to run the LED.  A small 6v solar panel is use to recharge the battery.  The unit can be recharged about 300 times before the battery needs replacement. The light can be carried, worn as a necklace or hung from almost anything. 

The body design has been both plastic and redwood.  The redwood body has proven to be more durable and makes as least one part of the lamp more biodegradable.  Though redwood is naturally resistant to rot, a wipe on poly is applied for extra moisture protection.


This is an ongoing project last update in the Spring of 2013.