Low Power Lighting For Africa – Now

I was testing on my Arduino Nano and trying to avoid looking directly at its LED – a very bright white one – while it flashed, and I wondered, why aren’t LEDs more common in Africa?

I’v talked about this before, and mentioned a solution, a gravity-powered light. And I understand the cost issue; for example, prices from $20-$40 for solar or gravity-fed solutions are proposed. But they aren’t the only solution. After all, if a lousy kerosene light is producing as little as 2 lumens, then you’re at roughly the light intensity of a single LED, which is only about 30mA to run. And if my Nano is any indication, it’s enough light to (barely) read by – but better than nothing, and without the ongoing cost of kerosene and health issues that burning petrochemicals bring.

So maybe by scaling back there’s other, cheaper, options:

  • I can go on eBay right now and get an emergency light that is hand cranked and includes a battery for less than $3 from China. It may mean someone has to work the crank during the day or at mealtime, but immediately there is a low cost solution. And at that price, replacing it is reasonable, too.
  • Likewise, bicycle dynamos power lamps that are fine for cyclists. Although more pricey, they also have higher power output. Connect a lever to them and crank away.
  • How about a shake flashlight? In fact, the topic of mechanical flashlights is a big one, and there are many ways to power light.

While not an exhaustive list, these highlight that there are multiple ways to light, all better than toxic kerosene in an enclosed space. Now it’s just a matter of popularizing them over there…

Durapro Hand Crank Flashlight NO Batterys Required.
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 16:44:38 PDT
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Wind up Hand Pressing Crank Emergency Camping LED Flashlight Torch Bright c
$0.11 (3 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Feb-27-2018 13:48:43 PST
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Pocket Size Always Ready Hand Crank LED Flashlight Handheld
End Date: Saturday Mar-24-2018 7:19:04 PDT
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