May 26, 2015 11:03 AM ET

Archived: GravityLight: Made in Africa – a safe, clean and affordable alternative to kerosene lamps

iCrowdNewswire - May 26, 2015

GravityLight: Made in Africa

Everyone should have safe and clean light. Support us to create light – and jobs – from gravity!
caroline angus

GravityLight is a innovative solution that generates power from the lift of a weight.

  • Instant light, any time
  • No sun or batteries needed
  • With GravityLight all you need is a weight.

Today, over 1 in 5 people do not have electricity. Instead, they rely on dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps for light.

GravityLight has been designed primarily as a safe, clean and affordable alternative to kerosene lamps.

Your support will enable us to launch our improved GravityLight – to help eliminate kerosene lamps – as well as to establish an assembly line in Kenya.

In 2014, enabled by the Indiegogo community,  we conducted global trials with over 1300 off-grid families of our first GravityLight design – GL01. 

Over 90% of those who tried GravityLight said they would use one instead of a kerosene lamp!

Switching from kerosene to GravityLight starts a positive cycle of benefits – of money saved, increased productive hours and improved health. 

In parallel, GravityLight eliminates the carbon dioxide and black carbon that kerosene lamps emit. 


Our goal is to raise $199,000 in 40 days!

With these funds we can set up assembly in Kenya of our new and improved GravityLight: GL02

Your support will fund materials, such as soldering irons, assembly jigs and quality testing equipment, as well as staff training on assembling GravityLight and performing QC and QA checks.

If you choose the ‘Made in Africa’ perks, your GravityLights will be some of the first off this new line!  If you choose ‘ASAP’, you will still be supporting setting up operations in Kenya but, to get your GravityLight more quickly, means it will be assembled in China.

Once you’ve chosen your reward, you can also opt to add an additional donation – which will directly support building local jobs and skills in Kenya by establishing our assembly line there. 

NB. The GravityLight Foundation is a UK registered charity, so please let us know if you are a UK tax payer to enable us to claim Gift Aid from the UK government.

Many thanks for your support – this couldn’t happen without it!

Feedback from global trials of our first design, GL01, was extremely encouraging!

Vitally, it also gave us insights into what needed improving.

After extensive iterations and accelerated life testing we developed an improved model, GL02, that is:

We want GravityLight to be an empowering product in every sense of the word.

As well as designing GravityLight to provide a clean, safe and affordable alternative to kerosene lamps, we also want to create local jobs, skills and livelihoods for those who make and sell GravityLights.

Although GravityLight will be available internationally, Kenya is a one of our launch markets for off-grid families. It represents a gateway to East Africa and has an emerging manufacturing industry, which we hope to help develop and grow.

Our approach is to learn from and partner with the best and we’ve found a fantastic, like-minded partner to work with in Kenya: Burn Cookstove Manufacturers.

In supporting this campaign, you’ll be an invaluable part of GravityLight’s journey. It’s not often that people are part of such formative stages in a product’s development and we’re excited to share one of the first, ‘beta’ versions of GL02 with you.

GravityLight is unique. It creates a new category of lighting: it’s not just a variation on something that already exists. This raises different challenges to an ‘off-the-shelf’ or ‘me2’ product

Product development journey:

We have spent over a year transforming a very successful design (GL01) into a game-changing product (GL02). Over the next few months we will be commissioning tooling to create the first-off samples of GL02 to test and further optimize. There may be further improvements that we identify in this process – which means that you’ll be getting an even better design, that may even look slightly different from the images shown.

Quality Control:

When we have the first few samples produced we will need to ensure these meet our quality standards. If they don’t this is where iterative tweaks and improvements to the data and moulds are needed.

We have factored in several months for this process, which may involve iterative edits and improvements until we’re happy with what we’re sending you. However, if these take longer than anticipated, we’ll let you know why along with a revised timeline.

Beta GravityLights:

You’ll be receiving one of the first samples of the new GravityLight design: GL02. We will have rigorous Quality Control and Quality Assurance processes in place but there still could be a few ‘bugs’ that aren’t picked up in this testing. This is an important part of the learning process and we’d really appreciate your feedback on these.

For example, with GL01, we found a defect occurring during transit over sea, and we heard that UV light was causing some of the straps to become brittle and snap. This became valuable to integrate into our design considerations and testing for GL02.

We have done extensive ‘accelerated life testing’ of the GL02 prototype and so have worked to eliminate all the issues we identified, however you may find something new. We’ll set up a forum to hear how you use your GravityLight and your suggestions for further developments. Thank you for being part of this journey!

Setting up assembly facilities in Kenya:

We’ve previously set up assembly lines in China and have found a brilliant, experienced partner to set up assembly in Kenya.

For ‘Made in Africa’ perks, GravityLights will be assembled in Kenya on the new assembly line established there. We’ve factored in an additional 4 months during which components will be shipped to Kenya, the new assembly line trained and assembly kicked off, with a growing pace.

That said, if anything unexpected happens that delays this timeline, we’ll let you know why along with a revised delivery date.

Shipping your rewards:

From experience, this took several months for some GravityLights to arrive. We’ve assumed 2 months in the perk descriptions – we’ll let you know the date they ship.

Together the GravityLight team have over 60 years combined experience in product design, collaborating with different partners and bringing products to market.

From inventing a gravity-powered light to establishing assembly of these in Kenya, we aren’t ones to take well-trodden paths! Instead, we aim to maximise the positive benefits that GravityLight can bring – for those who use, create and sell them.

This is our second Indiegogo campaign for GravityLight, which means we know a lot about the challenges ahead! You’re in experienced hands.

Are you a non-profit organisation?

Yes. The GravityLight Foundation is a registered UK charity.

So if you’re a UK taxpayer, please let us know so that we can maximise your generosity and claim Gift Aid from the UK government!

How does GravityLight work?

Once GravityLight is installed and a 12kg weight – a bag of rocks or sand – attached, it’s ready to go, anytime.

The weight is lifted by pulling down on a bead cord. On release, the weight falls very slowly, transforming potential energy into kinetic energy as it powers a drive sprocket and polymer gear train.

This generates just under a tenth of a watt, to power an onboard LED and ancillary devices.

Once the weighted bag reaches the floor, which depends on how high it was installed, it is simply lifted to repeat the process.

Can it power other things?

Along with your GravityLight, you’ll also receive 2 SatLights which can be daisy- chained around the room and used as task lights.

GravityLight has a DC jack where SatLights and other devices, such as a radio, can be attached. We’d love to hear what you use your GravityLight to power with a tenth of a watt.

How long does the GravityLight work for per lift?

With GL02, it depends on how high you install your GravityLight. The winch system in GL02 means that anyone can use GravityLight, however high it is installed. A 6ft drop gives over 20 minutes of light.

In your last campaign I could ‘buy one, give one’. Can I do that again?

We chose this approach previously as we were testing the concept of GravityLight – would people use one? Would it work in different conditions and how long would it last for. There were so many unknowns to find out that we felt gifting these to our trialists in off-grid communities was the right approach.

We have worked hard to find the right balance between low cost, good quality and elegant design. Going forward, our approach is one of selling GravityLights for several reasons:

– Creating livelihoods: Working through local distribution partners and sales agents means that people can earn a living through selling GravityLights and similar products. Rather than undermining the local economy by giving away free products, we are able to create jobs and help people earn an income through GravityLight.

– Building a scalable, sustainable approach: If we gave away GravityLights to over 1.3 billion people that don’t have access to electricity, we would need to raise a lot of money! Instead, by creating a product that people value and are willing to pay for, GravityLight will be able to reach far more people, more quickly, without it’s fate being reliant on continuous fundraising. We are building a social venture that will be self-sustaining in 3 years time.

That said, you are welcome to pledge for a GravityLight – or many – and ask us to send these to someone else. Just let us know when we ask for delivery addresses where you’d like them sent.

Why Kenya?

Kenya, is one of our key ‘launch markets’ in the next 12 months. Having researched and visited several countries and potential partners, we chose it for many reasons including:

– International Trading Infrastructure:

Mombasa port, on the coast of Kenya, is a key international shipping hub. This means that it has the infrastructure to cope with international shipments from suppliers of GravityLight components.

– Access to sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 800 million off-grid people and, as the grid struggles to keep pace with population growth, this number continues to rise. It is therefore an important geographical area for our work to eliminate kerosene lamps and serve off-grid communities.

Kenya, as part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, is a traditional gateway into East Africa and parts of Southern Africa. This means that, once we’ve established partnerships, approaches and routes to market that work well in Kenya, we can look to understand how these need to be tailored to expand into neighbouring countries.

– Great partners

We’ve met a range of experienced and inspiring partners, including Burn, who are based in Kenya. Many of them have operations across East Africa but Kenya is where they have their largest operations.

Achieving economies of scale is critical in helping us keep the price of GravityLight low, so we are keen to develop a successful approach in Kenya that will help keep costs down for neighbouring countries too.

I have other questions that aren’t on here – where do I go?

You can send questions on the comments section of this campaign or by email

You may also find the answer you’re looking for on our website.

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