Good Thinking

Social project uses pop bottles to provide indoor lighting for the poor

Social project uses pop bottle...
Illac Diaz (right) in a home equipped with one of his Solar Bottle Bulbs(Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
Illac Diaz (right) in a home equipped with one of his Solar Bottle Bulbs
(Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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Illac Diaz in a home equipped with one of his Solar Bottle Bulbs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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Illac Diaz in a home equipped with one of his Solar Bottle Bulbs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
Illac Diaz (right) in a home equipped with one of his Solar Bottle Bulbs(Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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Illac Diaz (right) in a home equipped with one of his Solar Bottle Bulbs
(Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
Solar Bottle Bulbs ready to be installed (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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Solar Bottle Bulbs ready to be installed (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
A Solar Bottle Bulb being installed (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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A Solar Bottle Bulb being installed (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
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The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project is bringing light to the homes of the poor, by installing sunlight-diffusing pop bottles in their roofs (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)

Perhaps you've performed that old camping trick before, where you created a lantern by shining a flashlight into a water-filled bottle. While that may have helped you find your marshmallows in the dark, imagine how much brighter that bottle would have been if it were lit directly by the Sun. Bright enough, it turns out, that it could brilliantly light up the interior of a one-room house. That's the idea behind the Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project - it's bringing daytime indoor lighting to the homes of the poor in the Philippines, by installing water-filled plastic pop bottles through holes in their roofs.

Isang Litrong Liwanag is run by the Philippines' MyShelter Foundation, which was in turn established by social entrepreneur Illac Diaz. The group was founded to promote social enterprise, appropriate technology and alternative construction in the region.

The Solar Bottle Bulb, as it is called, was originally designed by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Its construction and installation is simple. A clear one-liter pop bottle is filled with water, chlorine is added, then the bottle is squeezed part way through a hole in a piece of corrugated tin. A corresponding hole is cut in the tin roof of a house, the tin-and-bottle is secured over the hole so that the bottom of the bottle hangs down through the ceiling/roof, then caulking is applied to prevent rain from getting in.

A Solar Bottle Bulb being installed (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)
A Solar Bottle Bulb being installed (Photo: Isang Litrong Liwanag)

When sunlight hits the roof and the top of the bottle, its rays are carried down through the water and dispersed into the interior of the home, giving off about as much light as a 55-watt bulb. Given that many of these homes lack windows, they might otherwise be nearly pitch black inside.

Not only does the system produce light during daylight hours, but it is also providing a living for locals who build and install the Solar Bottle Bulbs, and it diverts bottles that might otherwise end up in a landfill. While the bottles don't provide light once the Sun sets, homeowners do at least have the option of performing indoor activities that require illumination during the day, when the light is available. They could also turn to solar-powered lamps such as the Solar Pebble.

Additionally, some homes do have limited electrical lighting, but the Solar Bottle Bulbs allow their owners to save electricity by not using that lighting before dark.

Illac Diaz has stated that he hopes to outfit one million homes with his system by 2012. We wish him luck in his endeavor.

The video below shows the installation process, and the effectiveness of the bulbs.

Solar Bottle Bulb - San Pedro, Laguna Site

16 comments
nehopsa
Great idea!
Wombat56
Nice. If you use a 2 litre bottle does it equal a 100W bulb? This could be useful even in the west. I\'m sure there are plenty of back yard tool sheds, fishing shacks and the like that could benefit from some extra light.
Mr Stiffy
THAT IS REALLY GOOD. I'd make ONE upgrade - USE GLASS BOTTLES - they last an eternity, the plastic ones die in the strong UV.
kalqlate
A nice, cheap lighting solution. It could deliver even more light to lower areas of the room if lengths of 3 to 5 inch wide by X-inch long reflective metal (or any thin, long material covered with aluminum foil) were positioned on the ceiling forming a triangle, square or other geometric around the bottle at any desired diameter and down-facing angle to reflect more of the upper light (which really serves no purpose other than lighting the upper walls) down to where it is more useful.
Slowburn
I have seen log cabins with whiskey bottles fitted in between logs to provide indoor light. No water though, in Colorado it would freeze in winter.
Sorcerys
This ideia is create in Brazil in 2008 look in : http://rodrigobarba.com/blog/2008/08/27/iluminacao-garrafas-pet-no-telhado/
Jelmer ten Hoeve
and use the rest off the roof for a garden!... I it can hold 2 men..
E. M.
Nice initiative . . . but IS IT ORIGINAL ? On July 2008, O Globo (one of Brazil\'s main journals) reported from Uberaba, Minais Gerais: \"Litros de Luz\" (liters of light) . . . http://globoreporter.globo.com/Globoreporter/0,19125,VGC0-2703-17305-3-283127,00.html
agulesin
@Slowburn - doesn\'t whiskey have a lower freezing point? or maybe the light transmission is poor... This is a lo-tech version of the Solatube lighting system and ideal for underdeveloped countries. One might ask why they don\'t have windows, or would that be spoiling the game?
Jane Lunsford
This is brilliant. There used to be something on sailing ships that did a similar job - a deck prism made of glass, it had a flat area that was level with the ship\'s deck, and the prism shape shone the light through down into the holds etc.