25th February 2024 10:50 am
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Affordable South African invention can put an end to shack fires

This is incredible. A South African entrepreneur has invented a cheap and cheerful light source that uses solar power and LED lights that could effectively replace the dangerous paraffin lamps that are the cause of so many shack fires each year. And all for just $10.

It’s called The Lightie, and it was invented by Michael Suttner, a 27-year-old South African entrepreneur with a background in mechanical engineering and brand management. The beauty of The Lightie is that it is charged up by the sun, and just 8 hours of sun exposure gives over 40 hours of light. It even charges under cloudy conditions. It’s no wonder it’s been shortlisted for a bunch of international awards.

But what really makes The Lightie so great is the fact that less fortunate shack-dwelling South Africans no longer need to rely on relatively expensive paraffin lamps for light at night. Suttner’s website quotes statistics that say people pay the equivalent of $1 to $2 a night for just an hour of paraffin-powered light, and that paraffin alone can cost some people 25% of their monthly income. Comparatively, The Lightie is 12 times brighter and lasts between 4 and 5 years. Not bad for a R110 investment.

With a Lightie, that R110 buys you a light source that lasts up to 40 hours on a single charge at its lowest setting (shorter for more light, obviously), and there is absolutely no danger of one leading to the accidental fires that claim so many lives every year.

Right now, though, The Lightie isn’t available in stores, but interested parties can pre-order it on Suttner’s website. Suttner does mention that companies interested in working with him on the project include “leading global brands”, so the future likely holds a wide retail release that will get the light source into the hands of people who don’t necessarily have email addresses.

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