Gallery: Tiny Solar Pebble Can Replace Kerosene Lamps in Rural Africa


In the poorest regions of the world, exposure to kerosene kills one person every 20 seconds. That’s why we’re really impressed with the folks over at Plus Minus Solar who’ve designed their Solar Pebble to replace kerosene lamps which are widely used in rural Africa. Kerosene is expensive and highly toxic and eliminating the use of it is a huge mission for humanitarian designers. This little solar wonder is a great alternative. Its small, portable, inexpensive and can provide light as well as charge small electronic devices.

Solar and wind power are great alternatives to kerosene but are often large and not portable. The Solar Pebble is small enough to carry around, clip on the front of a bicycle, or hang from the ceiling of a home. With a 12 hour charge it can light a room for an entire day. It can also provide a charge for a mobile phone in an area without electricity.

In total the Solar Pebble costs about a tenth of what a family would spend on kerosene for light and is 100% cleaner. They are releasing the product in June to the masses. Like the XO Laptop every purchase made in the developed world helps provide Solar Pebbles to people in the developing world. It would be perfect for camping or as a reading light and you’d use it knowing that someone else is enjoying the same clean light that you have.

+ The Solar Pebble


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  1. etorvi November 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    @steamer – Bravo! you have a rare keen eye for design at the base of the economic pyramid. I am so frustrated with the extraordinary amount of positive media attention solar rubbish “designed for the poor” receives in the West. Thinking in particular of Nokero as well…

  2. Africa's Largest Slum W... June 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    […] a million people — and no electricity. Kibera residents use dangerous and heavily-polluting kerosene lamps to see at night, and despite their fervor for soccer, watching the World Cup has been entirely out […]

  3. ksdoug April 14, 2010 at 3:33 am

    @streamer I don’t see your post at FB and a response moving on Who’s to say these units aren’t being manufactured in China now? I see nothing at the product’s web page that mentions place of manufacture. With the savings from not buying fuel, purchasing a small screwdriver may not be a hardship.

  4. gsuther April 6, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    streamer – a little unfair I think – your comments were replied to and quite comprehensively addressed your concerns I think – and you can still see the reply on their Wall – plus minus solar.

  5. steamer April 6, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Left a message on their wall that was removed after a few seconds. Obviously their marketing department doesn’t like to hear any constructive criticism. The unit is not poor friendly. The way it is designed now, it will be useless in a little over a year, after the original battery dies. Then be tossed into the garbage with all the other poorly designed products. The case is held together with small screws. Do poor Africans have jewelers screwdrivers? Also, What Type of battery(s) does it use. A better Design would have been a round case, with a screw off back, and use rechargeable AA batteries. (Much cheaper to replace a few batteries than a whole new unit) If I were poor, I wouldn’t buy it without these 2 features. Another case of marketing hype over reality. The Chinese will have a better product out in a few weeks, and this company will fade into the sunset fast. Neither poor or environmentally friendly. No Stars deserved

  6. namarchetti April 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Great story on the Solar Pebble Brit. We also got a chance to chat with the designers – – and were quite impressed by what they want to do with this.


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