How Deciwatt Provides Light and Power With the Pull of a Cord

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  • More than 1.2 billion people still lack access to electricity.
  • Nowlight works without batteries or sunlight.
  • Every 1 minute of pulling generates 1 hour of charge.

Hundreds of millions of people living in Africa and Asia are still living “off the grid“ with little or no access to electricity. Instead, many use kerosene lamps which produce dangerous fumes and frequently cause fires. Moreover, burning kerosene indoors causes harmful indoor air pollution.

As kerosene prices tend to track world oil prices this source of lighting becomes less and less affordable. The cost of a kerosene lamp can often consume up to 30% of a household’s income, limiting the amount of time families have to work, study or cook. These everyday activities then remain a luxury for many living in the third world.

Deciwatt is a startup from London that specializes in developing affordable off-grid energy products. Their recent product is called nowlight and provides instant power anytime and anywhere. It is designed as a solution for families who are using kerosene as a source of lighting, people vulnerable to extreme weather events, and those with unreliable electricity supply of electricity.

African woman in a dark room lit only by nowlight developed by startup Deciwatt
Nowlight has been designed to tackle the issue of energy access.

Maximum Power with Minimum Effort

Deciwatt‘s products provides clean, efficient and affordable lighting for people without access to electricity. They introduced GravityLamp as their first product. It uses a bag that can be filled with rocks or any heavy items and winched up. As the bag descends it drives a generator through a gearbox which provides 20 minutes of direct electrical power to a single 15 lumen LED lamp.

Their recent solution, nowlight, originates from GravityLamp, but generates electricity with the pull of a cord. At the beginning of 2018, the company launched a crowdfunding campaign introducing nowlight and eventually exceeded its initial funding goal.

“We spent the last 18 months really refining the solution to make it as efficient as possible.”

– Chris Skillton

Nowlight generates clean and renewable power by manual charging. The action of pulling on a cords turns gears which turns an alternator and then ultimately charges the battery. After only 1 second of manual charging, the lamp provides 1 minute of light.

Nowlight with solar panel, external SatLight and a smartphone on an orange background.
Users can charge nowlight on sunny days using the optional solar panel.

The product comes with a USB port able to recharge other devices and features a display that shows the remaining power. To make it more versatile, it can be combined with other SatLights to create multiple points of light. When fully charged, the 3200 mAh battery provides over 100 hours of light.

Take Light Wherever It’s Needed

Current off-grid solutions are dependent on the sun or the availability of disposable batteries. Deciwatt’s products generate instant light, regardless of weather with just the lift of a weight or a pull of a cord. This means that there’s no need to charge it in advance, it’s ready anytime.

Back in 2009, SolarAid challenged designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves from, at that time, Design Consultancy to create a low cost solar light to reach off-grid families living on less than $3 a day. Because batteries and photovoltaic panels were too pricey for most people to afford, they decided to look beyond solar- and battery-powered devices.

African woman pulling on a cord of nowlight – green off-grid light developed by startup Deciwatt.
Deciwatt has been conducting trials with the Red Cross in the refugee camps in East Africa.

Deciwatt is just about to launch the nowlight into the market commercially. They started a crowdfunding campaign at the beginning of 2018 and are planning to distribute the first 5000 by the end of the year. Additionally, they’ve been conducting trials with the Red Cross in refugee camps in Uganda and Rwanda and further hope to have real social impact in developing countries.

Magdalena is writing about innovations and recent investments in the startup world. Originally coming from Slovakia, Magdalena has been writing for one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in Europe and has now immersed herself into the world of startups. Her educational background in Finance and Business Informatics has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. In addition to that, she is a tech geek, passionate photographer and a lifelong dog lover.

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