GravityLight

GravityLight is an innovative device that provides instant light, as well as powering a string of up to 4 ancillary ‘SatLights’ that can be distributed around the home. Simultaneously able to power a radio, it does not need batteries or sunlight, as it is powered by the lifting of weights. This provides a clean, safe and affordable alternative to kerosene lamps which is universal and can be used all year round.

An innovative mechanism, GravityLight transforms the pull of gravity into electricity, providing instant power with the lift of a weight, for example, a bag of rocks or sand. It takes seconds to lift the weight that powers the innovation creating 20 minutes of light on its descent.

GravityLight provides both an ambient light as well as powering a string of up to 4 ‘SatLights’ for use around the home. This enables the whole household to use and benefit from GravityLight simultaneously.

The Gravity Dynamo is moved by a polymer geartrain, a toothed belt, which is fixed to the ceiling. This geartrain passes through the dynamo box with a push-up grip on one end and 12 kilo weight on the other. Once pushed up, the weight slowly descends, moving through the dynamo and providing electricity which is fed into LED lamps. These lamps are 6 times brighter than keresone lamps.

 

Statistics show that over 1.1 billion people have no access to electricity, and millions more have an unreliable supply. This often forces them to use dangerous, polluting and expensive kerosene lamps for light.

Despite the growth of grid power, it is failing to keep up with population growth, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where 576 million people don’t have access to electricity. 81% of these people live in rural areas. Those living in dense urban areas, often pay for expensive, illegally ‘tapped’ electricity and experience frequent powercuts that can last for days.

According to SolarAid, families, living on less than 3 USD per day, spend up to 30% of their income on fuel for lighting. In addition to the expense, smoke and fumes from kerosene lamps are health hazards and dangerous.

These means that a family uses a kerosene lamp for up to approx. 4 hours a day, which limits time for study or work.
From an environmental perspective, kerosene lamps also contribute to localised warming: over a year, each kerosene lamp emits 150 kg CO2 (IFC) and black carbon, which has an even more intense and localised warming effect than CO2.

GravityLight also provides skills development, employment and income generation and relies on its manufacturing teams in China and Kenya as well as on Kenyan sales agents. With the development of repair and recycling networks, this too will contribute to local livelihood opportunities in Kenya, invaluable in a country with unemployment levels of 25%, especially among young people.

The product is designed to pay for itself within 3 months, saving families an average of 70 USD per annum. The funds can be often invested in school costs (books and uniforms) and farming inputs. This could mean the difference between sending a child to school or not.

As a new product, GravityLight’s sees initial consumers as the ‘early adopters’ who are likely to be slightly more affluent and can take more risk on a new product. The company foresees that as awareness and availability of the product increases, it will become more widely adopted and trusted by the wider community of lower income households.

The company focuses on a sustainable commercial model – creating an affordable solution, at a price that can cover it’s costs but that will also pay for itself within months of replacing a kerosene lamp, saving families money thereafter. They work through existing distribution networks to maximise reach, contribute to local livelihoods and ensure that they stay close to the needs and demands of off-grid households – through sales performance and regular evaluations.


Initially grants and awards are to support the launch before securing impact investment to scale. Within 3 years of launch they plan to have sold 450,000 GravityLights, reaching 2.25 million people across over 5 countries. Production costs are at 14.91 USD and the sales price has been set at 25 USD, parts are manufactured in China but assembled locally. However, the GravityLight Foundation has plans to assemble GravityLight in Kenya, rather than the easier route of importing finished products from China. In this way the Foundation aims to create jobs and skills in Kenya, contribute to the local economy and its mission of ‘poverty alleviation’ and, with sufficient demand, they envisage establishing several assembly hubs across the world.

In parallel, a proportion of profits from higher margin sales to the ‘Global North’ through Deciwatt Ltd, will support The GravityLight Foundation to sustain its operations. Further fundraising and investment will be focused on scaling internationally.

GravityLight device

  • Including 2 SatLights
  • Installation guide (pictorial, English and ki-Swahili instructions)
  • Industrial-strength zip tie to attach device to a sturdy beam or hook.
  • Bag to fill 12kg weight (rocks or sand)
  • Additional SatLights are sold separately u
  • A toll-free support line via SMS or over the phone.

Key Facts

Organization: The GravityLight Foundation
Website: http://gravitylight.org
Contact: Caroline Angus
Email: caroline@gravitylight.org
Used in: Kenya

Category

Energy

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