There are places in the world where the grid doesn’t go and moonless nights are relentlessly dark. For these, designer/sculptor Olafur Eliasson has created a hand-sized solar lantern to brighten the night, light the way along the path and illuminate the dwellings of the more than 2.5 billion people in the world who live on less than two dollars a day.
Called the LittleSun Lantern, the daisy-shaped device uses solar photovoltaic cells to harvest light during the day and distribute it after dark. As a handheld device, placed on a table or shelf or used as a hanging light, the LittleSun (from Eliasson’s company of the same name) is said to be made of durable materials sourced for their simplicity and performance, and promises a three-year-plus lifespan to households, businesses and even medical practitioners living or working in nonelectrified rural areas.
According to the LittleSun website, the device uses a 60 by 60 mm single cell monocrystalline module to charge a AA NiMH battery. The company says the LittleSun can be fully charged in as few as four hours in full sunlight, without overheating its battery, and delivers up to five hours of illumination—enough for an evening of studying, reading, preparing a meal or just visiting with family and friends. It also makes it possible for rural businesses to stay open after dark, and insures that those who must travel or work after dark can do so safely.
Eliasson, an Icelandic artist and green design guru, worked with Danish design entrepreneur Frederik Ottesen of Solar Flight fame to deliver the prototype to the World Economic Forum, which examines and evaluates the ways in which art and technology can promote social welfare and advance civilization. Eventually, according to source DesignBoom, Eliasson hopes to expand his portfolio of affordable, off-grid progressive-design products to include a small battery, a cell phone charger and a portable, solar-powered radio.
The LittleSun website says the lamp will be released this summer. No price is given, but the designers are promising affordability.