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  • 12.17.15

This Lightbulb Stays On Even When The Power Goes Out

No more hunting for candles or batteries in a blackout.

If you’re facing the prospect of blackouts this winter, it pays to be prepared with flashlights, batteries, and candles. You don’t want to be left in the dark. But wouldn’t it be nice not to have to worry about flashlights and candles?

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With the SmartCharge lightbulb, it’s possible, because the light stays on whatever happens in the electric grid. The LED bulb, with a battery incorporated inside it, it will shine for four hours on its own steam. In most cases, that should be enough time for the utility to get the power back on.

CEO Shailendra Suman came to the idea from his own experience. During a power outage at his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, he couldn’t find a flashlight. Then, when he found one, the batteries were dead. Then, because he couldn’t find the way, his little son hit his head on a door, injuring himself.

SmartCharge recently launched on Kickstarter with an introductory price of $19.95. The lithium-ion battery inside is rechargeable and replaceable, and the light produces 650 lumens, which about the same as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. The campaign follows another two years ago, which raised $91,000 for development.

Recently, SmartCharge, based in Matthews, North Carolina, picked up the National Sustainability prize at the Cleantech Open Awards.

As well as selling to the U.S. market, SmartCharge also plans to sell a lower-end product in Africa, India, and elsewhere in the developing world. That product will cost about 25% less, mainly because the LED and battery are not as high-spec.

“The U.S. market has the most rigorous safety standards, so we have to make a really good quality product. That’s not the same case for developing countries,” Suman says. “It’s a still a safe product but you don’t have the same control circuit and LED and the battery is locally sourced.”

For places where blackouts are an everyday happening, a battery-powered lightbulb could offer an alternative to a back-up generator. Certainly, it beats looking for candles in the pitch-black.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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