The Luminaid: a portable light-source for disaster relief



The disaster following the destructive 2010 earthquake in Haiti inspired two architecture students (Anna Stark and Andrea Sreshta) to design a solar-powered light source that would eventually become the LuminAID light. Thanks to its light-weight and compact design, the LuminAID light is the prefect addition to disaster relief kits and is incredibly useful for communities without access to electricity.

The LuminAID’s innovative and unique design make it perfect for disaster relief. The light weighs in at 85 grams, and when deflated can be folded into the size and shape of an iPod, making it perfect for sending overseas as it is both light-weight and compact, unlike other LED lamp designs. When inflated the LuminAID floats and is waterproof up to 1 meter below the surface. The light has two settings, high/low, and has a handle on one end, making it easy to hang in a house, tent, or even on a tree branch. The light is solar powered, with a charge time of 6 hours in direct sunlight for 8-16 hrs of LED light (depending on the light setting). The one drawback to the light is that it is projected to only last two years with heavy-use.


Image courtesy of

The LuminAID website offers a Give a Light Get a Light program. When you purchase a light ($27.95, or $25.95 for 3-10, and $23.95 for 10+) you choose a Partner Organization to receive a donated light. The partners are CAN-DO in Haiti, Pencils of Promise in Ghana, Responsible Charity in India, and a few other organizations in the Philippines. Over the past year, over 5,000 LuminAID lights have been distributed in 15 countries around the world.

The Give a Light Get a Light program is possible because the actual cost of the LED light is under $6, and it allows people to donate while receiving a useful item in return. The LuminAID is not only suitable for the developing world, where lots of people live without access to electricity, but the light can also be used for camping, in place of candles or flashlights during a power outage, or even as a nightlight for those scared of the dark. Also, it is exceedingly more affordable and practical than other models on the market, such as Soccket, which costs $100 from the website and is not very compact.

Shelterbox and contents, image courtesy of

Shelterbox and contents, image courtesy of

LuminAID has most recently partnered with ShelterBox, an organization that sends disaster relief kits that include a tent, tool kit, stove, cooking utensils, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, as well as other items necessary for survival in a disaster. Shelterbox is what the designers of the LuminAID had in mind when creating the light, because they wanted it to be compact and light-weight to be easily included in disaster relief kits.

The LuminAID was designed to fill a gap in disaster relief projects, which sometimes overlooked light sources. Not only is light essential to navigate in the dark, but provides a feeling of security, especially for women and children, which can help reduce stress during a tumultuous time. In communities where there is no infrastructure for electricity, the lamp can also provide light for children to study with.


The Daily Beast, Clark Boyd at BBC, and the LuminAID website.

Promotional video from the LuminAID website:

Calondra Mainhart

Calondra Mainhart

Calondra is a writer, artist, and English teacher living in Turrialba, Costa Rica.

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