Litres of Light

The value of lighting is never realized until you’re faced with poor lighting conditions. In most of our buildings in the United States, codes and standards regulate the basic lighting conditions in a space. ASHRAE 90.1 sets the US minimum requirements for the lighting power densities based on the combination of studies of light levels by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IEC) and emerging high-efficiency equipment. Lighting is one of the targeted areas for reduction of energy costs because there are many passive and active manners to mitigate poor lighting conditions. This includes allowing more daylight to extend further into the space as well as utilizing fixtures which require LED or solar lights. (1)

Much of the world’s eyes are on the new technological innovations in lighting as methods to reduce energy savings. However, there are still areas of the world where there is no direct power and light within a building range from dim to dark. In the slums of the Philippines, where many families live in a single room house, there is hardly any light during the day barring the crack of light that comes from the door. The ceilings are corrugated metal and nearly two years ago a group of volunteers went to over a million of these homes to implement a new low-tech lighting fixture into the households. The fixtures are comprised of plastic soda bottles of water that are wedged into a hole cut in the roof. The sun hitting the top of the bottle, above the plane of the roof creates a 55 watt light bulb within the house. Homes that had electricity switched to the ‘litres of light’ to cut down on expensive electric bills.

The solution in the plastic bottles is purified water and two caps of bleach that prevents the growth of mold and has a service life of five years. The refraction that occurs through the bottle creates the glow from the water which is mainly a conduit for the solar radiation to enter the space as light. This is a low-tech solution in poor tropical areas where people live in dark, covered shelters to protect themselves from the rain and hot sun. This new bulb offers a ray of sunshine into these dark rooms without the danger of fire or the risk to one’s health from the constant burning of a candle. [2]

Here are instructions for you to make one of your own. Just check with your landlord before cutting any holes into your roof!





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