Ikea's colorful, altruistic solar-powered desk lamps

IKEA's solar-powered Sunnan desk lamp is cute, costs only $20, and doesn't use any electricity. A full charge will give you about four hours of light. Even better, for every Sunnan lamp sold since June, IKEA claims it is shipping one for free to kids in Pakistan via UNICEF, so those who live without electricity can study at night. That's nice! Product page [IKEA]

About Lisa Katayama

I'm a contributing editor here at Boing Boing. I also have a blog (TokyoMango), a book (Urawaza), and I freelance for Wired, Make, the NY Times Magazine, PRI's Studio360, etc. I'm @tokyomango on Twitter.
This entry was posted in Furniture and Lighting. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Ikea's colorful, altruistic solar-powered desk lamps

  1. Bryan says:

    When did “solar-powered flashlights” (and their derivatives) stop being jokes and start becoming actual product ideas? I think marketing just jumped the shark.

  2. huntsu says:

    It doesn’t use an outlet, but I’m pretty sure it uses electricity.

  3. dculberson says:

    No, it’s powered by dreams and unicorn farts!

  4. Zan says:

    Plus, according to the picture, it shines light on its own solar panel. Therefore it shoudl glow forever, right? Right?

  5. KurtMac says:

    Back when these were on BB I wondered “When you turn them on do they charge themselves?”

    If anyone is willing to provide a $20 scientific grant, I could carry out the necessary experiments in my dining room laboratory to find out.

  6. Marcel says:

    Aah, brilliant! Giving these away for free in Pakistan.
    Now the unmanned drones can hone in on the little colored dots that appear in the daytime in the Tora Bora mountains.

  7. dculberson says:

    My initial thought upon reading the headline and seeing the picture was to think “isn’t it more autocannibalistic than altruistic?”

  8. SamSam says:

    To those asking questions about the self-recharging, the answer is yes: some of the light it emits will be used by the solar panel to charge its battery.


    1) Only a small percentage of the light that is emitted from the bulb hits the panel, and only a small percentage of that light energy is converted into electricity and stored in the battery. So it uses much more energy than it would generate, and some of that energy will be lost forever in the conversion.

    2) Whatever increase in battery life you get from the self-generation, you lose by having less light available to you. Why do you have less light? Because instead of reflecting out into the room, the light is hitting a black rectangle and being absorbed. And this isn’t an artifact of unfortunate solar panel design, this is absolutely necessary — you can’t both get the same amount of light in the room and also store some of it as charge. The universe simply won’t allow it, no matter what tricks you pull.

    Moral: if you point this thing down on itself to get some self-charging, you will get less over-all light in the room over the life of the battery than if you just pointed it into the room.

  9. Tony TArle says:

    Hey – I sent these off to BB a while back, singing my praises for them. I think Joel posted about them as a result… I’m too lazy to fish for the link… but it’s in the feed somewhere I’m certain.

    anyway… after about 6 months with them, I can clearly say: these aren’t that great. The solar cell does not pick up ambient light very well, and the bulb just doesn’t seem to be bright enough to read in bed at night.

    You really have to remove the solar panel / battery cell unit and leave it on a window ledge to get a decent charge, and even when you do the intensity of the light that it gives off is still too poor to really be a useful lightsource.

    Cool idea, but it has got a way to go before being as useful as a plug powered light source.

  10. apoxia says:

    And here I was avoiding looking at the lighting area of IKEA on my recent trip to the US since there’s no point buying a lamp that uses a different wattage and wall connector to New Zealand. This would have done nicely.

  11. RedShirt77 says:

    No brushed chrome?

  12. Michiel says:

    I’ve been looking at them at Ikea, but they are what Engadget would call a “crapgadget”.

    I thought about all the good it would do, but I just don’t want to end up owning a crappy lamp.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t it 5 lamps for $20?

  14. toxonix says:

    The universe simply won’t allow it, no matter what tricks you pull.

    What about a cardboard tube with a mirror-finished aluminum lining that directs 100% of the light from the light bulb to the solar panel? A photon torpedo?

    Ikea is giving photon torpedoes to Pakistan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


More BB

Boing Boing Video

Flickr Pool




Displays ads via FM Tech

RSS and Email

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution. Boing Boing is a trademark of Happy Mutants LLC in the United States and other countries.

FM Tech