The LuminAID inflatable solar light was created by a pair of architecture students focused on disaster-relief solutions to the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Their light offers a safe, inexpensive and sustainable alternative to kerosene and oil lamps that’s ideally suited to the Syrian refugee camps swelling in north Jordan and eastern Turkey.
In just two years, they’ve pre-sold 1,500 units in more than 25 countries.
They’ve collected donations to fund over 3,000 lights for NGOs doing work off-grid in countries including India, Uganda, and Laos.
Architects Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork believe that light should be part of the basic supply kits sent in disaster relief packages. And disaster relief is common in the earthquake and conflict-prone Middle East: “We observed a gap in providing lighting solutions as part emergency relief,” Sreshta told Architecture magazine.
“We attributed this to the fact that many of the existing solar lighting products were too costly and bulky to send in the large numbers required for disaster-relief aid.” Fifty units of LuminAID can be packed in a box that would hold just 8 conventional flashlights. That transportability makes it ideal for deployment to refugee camps or crisis regions stricken by extreme weather.
Over 1.6 billion people lack access to networked power: kerosene-fueled lamps are the go-to-luminaire when access to a functional electrical grid is not an option. Those lamps, widely used in rural Asia and Africa where electricity is either not distributed or too costly to obtain, are dangerous, toxic, and relatively costly.
Kerosene lamps consume an estimated 77 billion liters of fuel annually, that’s 1.3 million barrels of oil a day.
LuminAID runs on sunshine. The unit, which contains no movable parts, inflates to diffuse light like a lantern. A waterproof case shields from the glare of its extra-bright internal LED, and an integrated solar panel collects enough energy to provide 4-6 hours of continuous illumination. LuminAID will provide up to 3 years of light without replacement batteries.
The lamps are currently sold online in the USA, but the team plans to roll out international sales in the coming year.
Although the lights have proven popular with recreational campers and outdoorsmen, the company stays true to their humanitarian roots. Through their Give Light, Get Light program, they partner with NGOs and non-profits all over the world to distribute LuminAID units to those in need of a better lightsource.
Looking for a novel gift? You can purchase two Give Light, Get Light packages for about $25. Keep one and donate the other to someone in need through one of their non-profit partners. Give Light Partner organizations distribute the matching lights in over 10 countries. The designers are currently seeking a Give Light Partner organization in the Middle East. Contact them via their website if you see a likely NGO match.
Presently, a purchase of donated lights is not tax-deductible, but don’t let that deter you from joining LuminAID Lab in their efforts to distribute light to those who need them most.