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1. They Are Tough

While I like to take care of the few things that I own, it’s impossible to own anything too delicate while living out of a van. Moving from place to place all the time, I regularly forget where I’ve put things and find myself rushing through tasks more often that I’d like to admit. In this process, my poor lights have taken a serious beating – they fall out of the van, I drop them, accidentally smash them together sometimes. I thought for sure they’d be trashed by now, but these lights are incredibly resilient. And while you might see a scratch or two on the embedded solar cell, performance has not been affected at all.

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2. They Charge So Quickly

The first day I got my lamps in New Jersey, I put them outside to charge at about 3pm. Admittedly, I don’t know if they had a charge prior to that or not. But I was astounded for the next few nights to find that my lights never went out! I used them for two or so hours at a time and put them in a place where they would receive some indirect light during the day, and it took several days before the light was finally so dim that I needed a proper full length charge. Official specs say that a full day’s charge will result in four hours of light. Although I haven’t been super scientific about my measurements, I’m sure that’s a lowball estimate.

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3. They Are Super Portable

So much thought went into this super efficient and portable LED light; d.light’s founders, Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun, came up with the design while completing the Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability course at Stanford Design School, and it shows. Relatively small and compact, the light can fold down to virtually nothing so that mostly the illuminated disc is in use, or you can hang it just like a lantern. I especially love this latter feature at bedtime in my van. Often I like to spend a few minutes reading. With just one of these I have a decent amount of light to read by, but with two, I’m superwoman!

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4. No Batteries Necessary

For the $15 d.light S2 lanterns that I purchased, the company offers a free two-year replacement and guarantees a five-year lifetime. Which means no new batteries necessary! I bought a battery-powered fan from Amazon at the same time, and I’ve stopped using it – mostly because I don’t want to send any nasty batteries to the landfill. Really this should be the number one reason everyone should have one of these!

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5. They Are Ridiculously Affordable

For some people, $15 may be a lot of money. But it’s not an insurmountable sum, especially given all of the great features mentioned above. And for the 2.3 billion people in the world who lack access to reliable electricity, this is a game changer. I understand now what it means to have no light at night, no way to continue my chores after dark. But my d.lights change all that – not just for me, but for millions of other people around the world. Which brings me to my sixth and final point.

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6. The Were Made for a Genuinely Good Cause

Far too many companies in the world are more concerned with making money than making a positive and lasting impact on society. The two are not mutually exclusive, and d.light design proves that with their extraordinary success. Started mostly because Goldman witnessed a young person in Benin sustain a terrible burn after his kerosene lamp overturned. According to the company website, “d.light serves over 62 countries, through over 12,000 retail outlets, 10 field offices, and five regional hubs. The company employs over 300 people directly, and indirectly employs hundreds more worldwide.” Their goal is to uplift the lives of 100 million people by 2020.

+ d.light design

Photos ©Tafline Laylin for Inhabitat