Unite to Light - Solar USB Charger LED Light

Help us make our first batch of solar LED lights with USB cell phone and e-reader chargers (UTL-C) for people living off the grid around the world.
Unite to Light Inc.
Goleta, California
United States
1 Team Member
Unite to Light - Solar USB Charger LED Light is a registered member of the Energy Access Practitioner Network, supported by the United Nations Foundation. The Network serves as a platform for all energy access organizations that contribute to the United Nations's 2030 goal of sustainable energy for all."

Our Goal

1.5 Billion people around the world live without a reliable source of electricity and are forced to turn to unsafe, unhealthy, expensive, environmentally unfriendly kerosene lamps among other forms of unhealthy lighting.

Ghana  Myanmar

Unite to Light is a non-profit based in Santa Barbara, California created to address this problem. Our lights are designed and developed at the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UC Santa Barbara. We are a growing community of people working to send solar powered products around the world as an alternative to kerosene lamps. Our first product, an all-purpose solar powered LED (UTL-1), addresses our goal of greatly reducing, even eliminating, kerosene use in developing countries.

But we can't stop there! There are currently more cell phones than people in the world, and every year a new small electronic device offers opportunities for individuals to learn and connect. We need your help producing our next product, the UTL-C, a cellphone and e-reader charging light!

Imagine the possibilities of the UTL-C in the developing world! With your help we will be able to continue to provide an alternative to kerosene, and in addition, we give someone the possibility of charging their cellphone and e-reader sustainably. In developing countries a cell phone is someone's lifeline. Cell phones improve profits for small business owners and farmers, are a cheaper and faster way of communication, increase productivity, and provide many other benefits we take for granted. Since many individuals in developing countries often do not have electricity, they often travel for miles and pay a lot to charge their cell phones. Having their own solar charger and light will save them time and money.

With 1.5 billion people living without reliable electricity and relying on their cellphones for work and study, a personal USB charging capability solves a problem and offers an environmentally friendly alternative. For those who live, work, study or play off the grid, the concept of solar energy for simple functions such as lighting and USB charging makes sense. The sun provides 1kW of power per square meter, why waste it?


Who Are We

GhanaUnite to Light is a non-profit located in Santa Barbara, California. When a professor and pastor from Ghana visited the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UC Santa Barbara they explained the problem of children not having a healthy and safe form of light at night for their studies. With their visit as the driving force, Unite to Light was created in 2010 to address the concerns of kerosene use. We are dedicated to providing low cost lighting to those without electricity, and eliminating the health and environmental issues associated with existing light sources used by this population. In doing so, we will allow families the opportunity to work, study, and play in the evening while breathing clean (healthy) air.

We have designed lights for this purpose, and are partnering with organizations on the ground in communities around the world to distribute lights for purchase. Parents are able to better feed their families and send children to school with the money they save by not buying kerosene, candles, and orther short term lighting sources. In turn, Unite to Light is able to produce and distribute more lights on an ongoing basis. 

For more information please visit www.unite-to-light.org.

Why We Need Your Help

Right now the cost of manufacturing the UTL-C is too expensive for the developing world. We need your help to subsidize the initial costs of the UTL-C and help pay for the mold and prototypes. With your help we can remove the burden (cost) of the mold and protoypes from our end users, and provide the cheapest UTL-C possible. With lower prices, we can reach a wider range of individuals and families that can benefit from the UTL-C.

Your Impact

Your contribution will give individuals and families the gift of light and the possibility of increasing their quality of life. The map below shows the countries where we are making a difference. Together we can light up the world country by country.

Quotes from around the world

“My name is Lewis Ayenza. I am in class eight, Mr. Kimathi gave me a solar lamp. Now I can read about 2 hours when I go home at night. I can work hard because my mother can take the solar lamp and keep it under the sun to charge. We do not have electricity and sometimes we were not having money for buying paraffin. But now as I have that solar lamp it helps me and I read and do my studies well. Am so happy about it.” -- Lewis A. (Kenya)

"We were able to bring to village these really cool solar powered reading lights. The villagers loved them, and everyone wanted to take one home. They have no electricity in the village and fires in their homes (most have thatched straw roofs, the richer people have tin), lung disease from breathing smoke (they use wood and dung to cook with) and burns from injuries while working and using fire are common. I made it clear the lights were to stay in their new library, and that I would return to America to try to raise money for more for village homes." - HANDS in NEPAL , one of our partners.

"As a [Peace Corps] teacher in Ghana, I’ve never heard the ‘My dog ate my homework’ excuse but I have heard ‘Madam, I couldn’t do my homework because we don’t have lights.’" - Stephanie, a Peace Corps volunteer in  Ghana.

"One of the couples on the trip brought lights from Unite to Light to give to the native Tarahumara people (they call themselves the Rarámuri) who live in cliff side dwellings and use kerosene lamps for light. I got to see first hand the impact of the blackened walls and can only imagine the damage being Guatemaladone to the lungs of the children and the people. It is truly a wonderful thing that you are doing. Thank you for your global concern and generosity." by Fritz (Mexico)

"The Unite to Light solar lights were a BIG hit with the teachers! Uganda is a land where the power is constantly going out in the evening, and the acrid small of burning trash with kerosene and diesel cars makes for a very toxic environment. There were most days when I never saw a blue sky. These lights will really help the teachers, especially those who live in the areas we are working in, to be able to lesson plan and read student work at night. They were actually hugging me when I gave them the lights!" - Vicky, one of our partners at Turn the Page Uganda.

"I’ve noticed that their academic performances are improving, their punctuality to school in the morning has also improved... We would be very grateful if we get more lamps for those who didn’t get one." -- Headmaster Kingston K (Kenya), commenting on the performance of his students who received a light.

Read more stories on our Facebook page.

What You Get

Our exciting gifts to you for your contributions are our first product, UTL-1, and our new product, UTL-C. Please note that the final version of the UTL-C may vary slightly than the one in the video based on product improvements.


Unite to Light USB Charger / LED Light (UTL-C)
(1) 1.2W Silicon Solar Panel
(1) >10Wh non-removable Lithium battery (upgrade from prototype)
(1) 45 Lumen White LED
(1) USB Charging Port (works on cell phones, kindles, and small USB charged electronics)

Please visit http://www.unite-to-light.org/specifications.html for the specification of our UTL-1.


Find This Campaign On
raised by 98 people in 1 month
104% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$12,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on April 30, 2013
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Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Student Postcard

    Pledges of $10 will receive a picture postcard of student in developing country using the light. Ships within the U.S. only.

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $25USD
    All-purpose LED

    One of our original solar powered all-purpose LED lights, the UTL-1 (with rechargeable NiMH AA battery). Add $10 to ship outside the U.S.

    11 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $75USD
    USB Charger / LED Light

    One solar powered USB charger / LED light (UTL-C) to read by, light a table or small room, or charge any small USB device such as a cell phone or e-reader. Additional charges to ship outside the U.S.

    9 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $100USD
    Get one and send one

    You receive one UTL-1 and one of the new charging units (UTL-C). In addition you will be providing one UTL-1 and one UTL-C for a family of five. You can choose the destination as available. Additional charges apply for shipping outside the U.S.

    40 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $150USD
    Lights for a family

    You receive one UTL-1 and one UTL-C. In addition, you will be providing two UTL-1 and two UTL-C for a family. You can choose the destination as available. Additional charges for shipping outside the U.S.

    4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $250USD
    UTL-C Chargers for a Library

    You receive one UTL-1 and one of the new UTL-C. Your contribution will go to support a library of e-readers loaded with content and the UTL-Cs. Contributors have the option of choosing a location as available. Additional charges for shipping outside the U.S.

    3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $500USD
    Tour & UTL-1/UTL-C

    Unite to Light Kit includes a UTL-C, UTL-1, and an opportunity to tour the UCSB Institute for Energy Efficiency and meet with the founder of the company. (Transportation and accommodations not included.) Additional charges to ship outside the U.S.

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Tour & Light a Village

    This is the ultimate package! You will receive one UTL-1, one UTL-C, and tour of where we got started -- UCSB Institute for Energy Efficiency. (Transportation and accommodations not included). In addition, you will be lighting and improving the quality of life of an entire village in the country of your choice (as available). Your contribution will provide seed capital for families who want to launch their own business selling lights. Additional charges to ship outside the U.S.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
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