A designer in Denver, Colorado has developed a healthy, cost-effective prototype solution for families with unreliable electricity, called Nokero. Nokero stands for No Kerosene. The primary goal of this project is to get affordable light-sources to families without reliable electricity, that also isn't hazardous to their health.
The solution is a solar-powered, N200 model light bulb. The bulb is made from polycarbonate, similar to the material used in vehicle headlights. It works by charging its NiMH AA size battery all day in the sun, using a small solar panel. The battery has an estimated lifespan of two years. Once it gets dark and the bulb is turned on, the batteries send power to four low-energy LED lights.
1 in 4 people in the world do not have reliable electricity. At night, they are forced to rely on sources of light, such as candles, wood, charcoal and kerosene lamps, which are dangerous when continually used indoors. This type of lighting causes 190 million tons of carbon emissions. That is the same as 30 million cars. Unlike cars, however, these dangerous emissions are released indoors, where these families sleep and eat. Relying on kerosene lamps for light, causes damage to the lungs, equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day. This damage causes a tragic 1.6 million deaths each year.
Another huge problem with relying on candles or kerosene for fuel, is that it tends to be quite expensive. This can be a significant burden for already impoverished regions. It can cost up to $38 billion per year to fuel homes with kerosene, wood and candles. Up to 20% of these families' income goes to fuel just for light. The Nokero bulbs are around $20 each, which is a bit of an upfront cost for struggling families. However, the major savings here comes in the ability to reuse the bulbs, as they can be recharged each sunny day. Nokero estimates that their bulbs will start saving families money after three to eight weeks of use.
Nokero bulbs are designed with the user in mind, resembling a small, single-bulb lantern. There is a hook at the top of the bulb, which is perfect for hanging during the day so the solar panels can collect as much solar power as possible. The hook is also great for use indoors. It can be hung near the ceiling, allowing light to shine down on the whole room. The Nokero bulbs have three settings: hi, low and off. The light is also adjustable, so the direction of the light can easily be maneuvered to wherever is most convenient. It can also be used as a flashlight, due to it's small size and light weight.
Nokero is currently partnered up with various non-profit groups, and hopes to make a big impact world-wide for families without electricity. The company is targeting off-the-grid citizens of Navajo Nation, and is also hoping to distribute internationally. Haiti, Mexico, Japan and Pakistan are just a few of the countries Nokero is hoping to distribute their clean, cost-effective light bulbs.