Bottle Lights for the Worlds Poor

In 2002, a Brazilian mechanic came up with a simple lighting technique that is improving lives around the world and across some of the poorest countries. Alfredo Moser’s idea is a bottle of light that is capable of spreading sunlight inside a house without electricity. In the last two years, his innovation has spread quickly, and it is expected to be in a million homes by early 2014.Bottle Light

In many poor countries of the world, people do not have access to electricity, and for those who do, many can’t afford to use it. However, with Alfredo’s innovation, all they need is a plastic bottle of water and a tiny bit of bleach. The bottle light works because water naturally refracts sunlight, which means that it bends the light rays so they are no longer in straight lines and they fan out. Because this is a natural process, no other power source is needed.


To make a bottle light, fill a clean plastic bottle with water, and add two capfuls of bleach. The bleach is added to keep the water from growing algae which would turn it green. Put the cap back on, and you have a completed bottle light.

The bottle light is mounted by cutting a hole in the roof and pushing the bottle up from the bottom into the hole. Use polyester resin or caulking to seal around the bottle and keep rainwater from dripping in.


The brightness depends on the amount of sunlight at the time, but on a typical day in Brazil, the light would be approximately that of a 40-60 watt bulb. As you can see from the image, multiple bottle lights can be added for more illumination. This method only works in the daytime, but for people who have no light inside their living area, this is a major improvement for cooking and other tasks.

In the Philippines, where a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, and electricity is unusually expensive, the idea has really taken off, with Moser lamps now fitted in 140,000 homes. The idea has also caught on in about 15 other countries, from India and Bangladesh to Tanzania, Argentina, and Fiji.Bottle Lights

As Alfredo Moser says, “It’s divine light. God gave the sun to everyone, and light is for everyone. Whoever wants it saves money. You can’t get an electric shock from it, and it doesn’t cost a penny.”

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