Solar Pebble Offers Eco-Friendly Lighting For Rural Africa, Urban London

[Editor’s Note: The Solar Pebble story received so much positive interest that we decided to reach out to designers Plus Minus Design for an interview, which they graciously decided to do with us. You can now read that interview here.]

Plus Minus Design, a team of innovative designers in the UK which look to have done some design work for the Solar Aid charity around the Solar Orb [PDF], now have another solar design idea unleashed centered around their new Plus Minus Solar mission of being “dedicated to the design and development of innovative humanitarian products for the developing world.” This one, being shown on one of the designer’s Flickr accounts, is called the Solar Pebble.

The Solar Pebble, as picked up on by Yanko Design, “is a solar powered lamp targeted for use in rural Africa, as a humanitarian product, and at home in the UK as the perfect gift.” Designer Tom Weales, through his Flickr feed, seems to see the Solar Pebble idea as an eco and health friendly alternative to the fact that “in the world’s poorest regions including sub-Saharan Africa, reliance on kerosene burning lanterns kills one person every 20 seconds.” The LED Solar Pebble, as it is designed, looks to change that.

Solar Pebble

image via Plus Minus Design

Features of the Solar Pebble include being powered by batteries that are charged via an integrated solar panel, being able to charge mobile devices like cell phones, a ratchet handle that “allows the product to be carried and angled when standing or suspended” and the ability to strap it to a backpack for daytime charging. Some of these features seem to be more focused upon this item’s use in the UK as a back up power supply, while in rural Africa it seems to be seen as being a method that “allows families to carry on business after dark, to help children learn into the evenings, to provide clean lighting to replace choking kerosene and to do all this for around one tenth of the annual cost of fossil fuel burning lanterns.”

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I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.


  • Reply April 3, 2010


    The Solar Pebble is one of a number of growing eco-power solutions. Solar technology is improving and soon smaller solutions, such as the Pebble, will be able to offer a decent level of power. At present, these smaller solutions can only genereate a limited amount of power that can be used for charging unless left in full sunlight for an entire day. However, in regions like Africa where bright sunlight is available in abundance, this delivers a valuable way of help people become self-sufficient.

    Matt Thorpe

  • Reply April 3, 2010


    Thanks for your support Thorpeedo, this is completely correct, the Solar Pebble can offer lighting of up to 14 hours from a full charge of 7 hours or approximately 5 hours of charge time. The product further allows users to charge directly from the solar panel during the day and even power radios.

    Our main concern however is cost, due to the size and simplicity of this design we can offer this unit to people in Uganda for just £5 in comparison to the £80 an average family spends of kerosene fuel every year to burn in lanterns which kill one person every 20 seconds (SolarAid, 2008).

    Plus Minus Solar is dedicated to the design and development of innovative humanitarian products for the developing world. We are not a charity but a not for profit organisation and work off the profits generated from western sales of our products 🙂

    Adam Robinson

    • Reply April 3, 2010

      Exterior Solar Lights

      Looks like this product is filling a big need in the developing world. There are other solar chargers out there but the Solar Pebble looks like it has more charging capacity than other competitors – a huge plus in rural areas.

      Adam – would love to touch base with you about carrying the Solar Pebble. Please feel free to contact me at All the best – Jason.

  • Reply April 3, 2010

    Nino Marchetti

    Thank you for your comments Adam. It is nice to see outfits like yours designing these types of products.

  • Reply April 3, 2010


    Well it might be an idealistic view of the world, but we believe everyone has a specialism through which they can make an impact! Ours is design.

    If anybody would like to know more about the Pebble, our story, or wish to get involved at any level please come and visit us on facebook:

    We’re always happy to meet like minded people!

    Adam Robinson

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