Where does Unite to Light distribute (send) lights? Over 50,000 lights have been sent to 64 countries on four continents. As an example, we have partners in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and 2000 lights were sent to Japan (after the earthquake) and several more to Haiti for disaster relief.
Why is what we do important? 1.5 Billion people around the world live without a reliable source of electricity and are forced to turn to unsafe, unhealthy, expensive, environmentally unfriendly kerosene lamps among other forms of unhealthy lighting. Our all-purpose solar powered LED, the UTL-1, addresses our goal of greatly reducing, even eliminating, kerosene use in developing countries. In addition, there are currently more cell phones than people in the world, and every year a new small electronic device offers opportunities for individuals to learn and connect. Unite to Light continues to provide an alternative to kerosene, and in addition, we give someone the possibility of charging their cellphone and e-reader sustainably with our cellphone and e-reader charging light, the UTL-C. Click here for relevant news articles.
What type of battery should I buy when I need to replace the battery? The size of the battery is AA rechargeable. The type of battery is Nickel-Metal Hydride – commonly called NiMH. The battery should be 1300 milliamp hours (mAh) or greater.
Is the LED lamp replaceable, or how long is the lamp expected to last? No -- the LED will last longer than most any other part of the light and will typically perform for more than 20,000 hours of life.
Where are the lights made? The lights are currently being manufactured in Taiwan and China. Our manufacturers comply with international standards for working conditions and wages.
Do I need to charge the light before use? Be certain the switch is turned off (the side of the switch that does not have the dot is pushed down) and place the light in the sun and charge it during the day.
Does it have to be in full direct sunlight in order to charge? If not does it take more than 8 hours to fully charge? Although the light does not require direct sunlight in order to charge, how long it will take to charge the battery is dependent upon how cloudy or the intensity of overcast it is during charging.
Should the battery be drawn down to exhaustion from time to time? It is not necessary to exhaust the battery.
Is there any way to determine when the battery is getting close to extinguishing? No -- the light stays at full brightness until very near the time when the battery needs to be recharged. The brightness falls off drastically in just a few minutes, indicating the battery is extinguished.
Is the 4 hours of LED light continual, even if there are long periods of time between use: such as a two hour use, then a two month non-use, if the light is stored in a dark area between uses, such as the box it came in or an earthquake storage crate? The battery does gradually lose its charge if it is not used. A fully charged battery (NiMH), sitting on a shelf and not used, will typically discharge 10% in the first month and 3% per month thereafter. High heat accelerates the discharge.
What are the basic parts of the UTL-1 light? The light bulb is a Light Emitting Diode (LED) and is the state of art in lighting because of its high performance and low current consumption. The light housing is connected to the light base by a flexible neck. In the base which contains a single battery, electronics which assure optimum performance of the light and a solar panel which absorbs energy from the sun and converts it into electricity which is then stored in the battery. There is an on/off switch on the right side of the light.
Where is Unite to Light located? Unite to Light is a Non-Profit, 501(c)(3) organization located in Santa Barbara, California and created in 2009. The Co-founder and Chairman, Dr. John Bowers is Director of the Institute of Energy Efficiency at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Co-founder, Claude Dorais is an attorney in private practice in Santa Barbara.
How long will my light work? The battery will work for over 500 cycles and typically two years or more. With proper care, the light will last quite a bit longer.
Should the light be set in the sun every time after use so as to keep the battery always fully charged, or will this shorten the battery life? This is not necessary. For instance, if someone is using the light just one hour a night and used every night – the light will only need to be charged in the sun for eight hours - every fourth or fifth day.
_How did Unite to Light get started? There is a great need in the world for a low cost, high performance light to replace kerosene and candles for people who are not on the electrical grid in their countries (or where the grid is unreliable) – which represents some 1.5 billion people or around one fourth of the world’s population. Unite to Light set out to determine if such a light already existed. Working with the UCSB chapter of Engineers without Borders and volunteers from the private sector and at UCSB, it was determined that although there were solar lights available, there was a need for a lower cost alternative. Unite to Light’s simple design and large order volume combine to make high quality, low-cost production possible.
Will an Alkaline battery work? Yes – BUT Alkaline batteries will not recharge and thus defeats the purpose of the solar cell. This really is a sustainable lighting solution that will last longer and cost less in the long run when AA NiMH batteries are used. In rare instances an Alkaline battery may even damage the light.
Is the light waterproof? Technically no, however, the light is extremely water resistant. The light will typically withstand water, it is best to keep the light indoors if it is raining to increase its total lifetime.