Sometimes you come across an object that might not be the prettiest thing ever, but the fact that it is such a good idea and so well designed gives it a charm of its own. And we were charmed by Luci, an inflatable solar lantern.
Such a simple idea from some some clever people at a company called Mpowered. The motivation behind it is to empower people with affordable light. This means that people all over the world who have no electricity, or whose supply is erratic, can study and work cheaply in a clean, safe environment (no toxic fumes or fire risk from kerosene lanterns).
The lamp can be used with the light source either at the top:
Or at the bottom:
Luci takes 8 hours to charge and should then give 12 hours of light on the lowest setting (there are two, plus a flash function). Unlike a lot of solar lanterns, there is an on and off button, so the energy from a charge is stored if it isn’t needed. What you probably can’t tell from the pictures (taking pictures in the dark is a job for the professionals – it’s hard!) is that the light is enough to illuminate a square metre, so plenty of room to read, study or work. Not to mention that, sadly, light keeps a lot of people safer than the dark.
And those of us lucky enough to have a reliable electricity supply can have a useful and attractive lantern for our decks, patios and outdoor parties. Luci is waterproof, so you can float them in pools and has handles top and bottom for suspension. There is the clear version, which is shown here, or a frosted effect one. And as well as all that good stuff, they are bringing out a colour-changing version, the Luci Aura! There is no release date yet but you can sign up on the web site to be notified.
Mpowered work with all kinds of organisations all over the world to promote solar justice and have a scheme that lets people donate a lantern to those who need it. In the US the lanterns are about $15. You can also buy them in the UK for about £20.