The Kickstarter campaign for the Little Sun Charge kicked off on September 2nd with the goal of raising at least $56,345, and in just five short days has tripled its goal, with pledges worth $170,204 (and counting).
Olafur Eliasson, the artist and designer behind the Little Sun solar LED light, and his engineer cofounder Frederik Ottesen, are back again with another solar gadget, but this time the focus is on charging mobile devices as well as providing light for offgrid applications. And like the original Little Sun product, it’s not only meant to provide light, but to also enable a better life for those living in energy poverty in places such as Sub-Saharan Africa.
For those of us in the developed world, with plenty of personal gadgets and easy access to electricity and light, it can still be a challenge to keep our mobile devices charged up, so an efficient solar charger is a very helpful thing. But without reliable and affordable electricity, which is the case for many people in the developing world, powering a light and a mobile phone can be a major struggle, which is why Little Sun’s focus on making “clean, reliable, affordable solar energy easily accessible to everyone” is a laudable goal.
“Little Sun is a social business and global project founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen to get clean, reliable, affordable light to the 1.1 billion people in the world living in off-grid areas without electricity. The project’s first product, the Little Sun solar LED lamp, is sold all over the world. Purchasing Little Suns in areas of the world with electricity makes the lamps available in off-grid areas at reduced, locally affordable prices, where they provide a clean alternative to toxic and expensive fuel-based lighting such as kerosene lanterns.”
According to Little Sun, one of the reasons behind the pull to design a better small portable solar charger was due to the fact that many of the mobile-sized chargers took up to 20 hours to deliver a full smartphone charge, which is entirely too long, especially for those whose charger is their only off-grid power source. That 20-hour claim might be a little bit of an exaggeration, at least for some of the solar chargers I’ve previously used and reviewed, but even if they take half that long, it’s still an inconvenience.
The info on the Kickstarter campaign for the Little Sun Charge, a combination solar charger, battery pack, and LED light, is a little light on details, but Little Sun says that the device has a 2W solar panel made with cells from SunPower and an internal rechargeable LiFePO4 battery, and can deliver a full smartphone charge in about 5 hours of direct sun. The device has a single standard USB port, and a light with multiple brightness levels, all wrapped in a rugged weatherproof and water- and heat-resistant casing that’s small enough to go almost anywhere it’s needed.
Here’s the video pitch:
Backers of the Kickstarter campaign at the €63 level ($71 USD) can be one of the first to get one of these stylish and functional solar chargers, or can pledge at the €85 ($96 USD) level to get one for themselves and one for the organization Alight Zimbabwe, which will help scale up their local distribution of these devices.
[Prototype images: Inka Recke © Little Sun]