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Solar-powered light designed to provide indoor illumination in developing nations


May 14, 2012

Little Sun can be hung, used as a table lamp, or taken out to be used as a lantern or bicycle accessory

Little Sun can be hung, used as a table lamp, or taken out to be used as a lantern or bicycle accessory

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Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, whose body of work is mostly based on light installations, last week presented a small solar powered light during the World Economic Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Olafur collaborated with engineer Frederik Ottesen to create Little Sun, which they hope can help bring indoor lighting to those people who lack access in developing countries.

The flower-shaped Little Sun uses LED technology and captures sunlight through a 6 x 6 cm (2.4 x 2.4 inch) mono-crystalline solar module. After four hours of charging, the unit will provide light for five hours. The design makes it very versatile. It can be hung, used as a table lamp, or it can be taken out to be used as a lantern or bicycle accessory. It is fairly resilient and can be expected to work for three years.

Last year saw a massive growth in solar panel installations in countries such as the United and States and Germany. Centralized solar power is also striding forward with the opening of massive solar farms. Meanwhile, scientists work on increasing solar cell efficiency.

The reality, however, is that a huge chunk of the world’s population still lack access to grid electricity. It is there where the distributed solar power revolution can take place, and sustainably raise the standards of living for the more than 1.6 billion people living in this state of exclusion.

As we have seen previously, there are several initiatives such as the Solar Pebble and LuminAID that innovate both on the technological front, as well as their socially responsible applications.

Olafur said he considers his new project to be a piece of art for a large audience. It will be launched at the Tate Modern museum in London during the festival that precedes the upcoming Olympics in the English capital.

Below is a video featuring Eliasson talking about Little Sun.

Source: Little Sun

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology. All articles by Antonio Pasolini

How many of these things have we seen now? At this point, solar powered lights seem like boring regular products to me. Assuming they are even put into production.

Jon A.

This such a wonderful thing, it truly has made my reading this, I love the idea! It is great that underdeveloped countries can now have a way to light there homes when they dont have access electricity at all. Nice!


China probably produces a million such devices every year already!

But there's another important thing about Solar lighting that one of my friends brought my attention to. He said instead of making little solar panel based portable lights whcih serve very little purpose in real life and don't even reach the intended populations in many cases, what we really need is to design massive solar PV based chargers which can charge thousands of simple everyday rechargable AAA NiMH batteries quick and fast. ( and also a simple way to manage that). And then have everyday LED lighting products which run on those. I guess many such products are available throughout the world already . I have four simple 10 dollar 220 V AC chargers which charge almost 50 rechargable AA and AAA NiMH batteries that I use for many of my gadgets.

We just need to convert that mains charging to PV, and we are good to go ECO

Atul Malhotra

How many different combinations of a solar panel and a high-efficiency LED can you come up with?

If you really want this to help anyone in developing nations, get rid of the bulky yellow plastic flower crap, and push as hard as you can to get the price down! If you can buy cheapo solar lanterns to light your garden path at a dollar store, then I don't see why these gadgets "for developing nations" have to be in the $30 ballpark.

At least the Solar Pebble design includes a plug where you can charge other devices, such as cell phones. Also, if you can charge the device in 4 hours, to me that just says the battery isn't big enough to take advantage of the 12 hours of sunshine you'll get in the tropics...


PatrikD is right. I use 2 or 3 of the 3 Led solar lawn spotlights sold at Lowes at 2 for $15.00 when I go camping or as mood lights for movie watching at home. Charged all day, they work for 5 to 6 hours and are plenty bright.


@PatrickD Where did your $30 price tag come from? I have not seen any price attached to this product.

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