More than 1.4 billion people in the world don’t have access to electricity, and therefore, lighting is a bit of a problem for these people, most of whom live in Africa and India.
How do they study in the evenings after school, and how do evening schools operate at night in geographic locations stricken with this problem?
Wireless Solar Power
I said “wireless” because solar-powered light bulbs are usually wireless, so that they don’t have to be tethered to a costly power transmission line (transmission line infrastructure can cost up to $80,000 per mile to construct).
Everything is integrated into one unit in the case of the solar-powered light bulb that Evan Mills, a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) envisions could be a “boon for literacy,” improve women’s safety, and improve the productivity of businesses that are using ineffective flame-based lamps.
Integrated into these light bulbs is a small solar panel, an LED (since these are efficient), and rechargeable batteries. Typically, the solar panel would recharge the batteries, and the batteries would power the light bulb at night.
My Experience with Solar-Powered Lights
After Hurricane Sandy knocked out my power supply, I used a 10-watt solar panel to charge an old discarded battery which I used to dimly light two rooms until the power was switched back on. I used it to power one 4-watt, 450-lumen Bridgelux LED module, which was more than bright enough to use as a desk lamp to illuminate my work. (450 lumens is the brightness of a typical 40-watt incandescent light bulb.) It was a very simple setup, and it worked very well.
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