Incandescent light bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past, with the efficiency standards that took place on the first day of this year. That leaves very little variation as far as the color temperature and feel of indoor lighting. Many people feel like florescent lighting is stale, and it really doesn’t feel the same as incandescent lighting, but even better than incandescent is natural light. If you have the money, you can put in a skylight, but that’s not going to make it to your basement and windows can sometimes do a poor job of bringing the light to the inner parts of the room. The inventors of The Light Bandit want to change that, they want to light up your whole home with the power of the sun (during the daytime, of course).
What Is The Light Bandit?
The Light Bandit is a very clever device that you can sit into your open window to have it collect sunlight that it will funnel into a rather large optical fibers that you can route around your home and use the light for a multitude of things. The full system includes a custom lamp that you plug the other end of the fiber into and have it light up the room with natural sunlight. As far as using it is concerned, it’s rather simple and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Of course, this doesn’t use any kind of electricity, so as long as you have this system it’s going to save you electricity in all of the rooms that you use it in. Take a look at their video to see it in action:
It goes without saying, though, this can’t become your only source of light in the house if you plan on using lighting at night time. However, having this in your home can have plenty of applications such as indoor planting, and it has lots of health benefits too. Aside from giving you your needed vitamin D, there have been studies that cite sunlight for helping to prevent Alzheimer’s, ameliorate symptoms of ADHD, and fight stress.
While this project is really cool, it doesn’t come cheap. The early bird special for the complete Light Bandit setup will run you $299, which includes the Light Bandit itself, a 6 meter optical fiber and a compatible lamp. At the time of writing this, there are 196 of 200 of those still available. After those run out, it will cost $349 for the exact same package.
How Does It Work?
This is a tech site after all, so it seems fitting to explain how this amazing technology works. The optical fiber is nothing new. Fiber-optics are the cornerstone for a lot of our data transfer in this country because of how fast and long-distance it can be. What’s new here is the Light Bandit itself, the box grabbing all of the light and funneling it into the optical fiber. I’ll be honest, after that it gets rather technical and I wouldn’t do it any justice by trying to paraphrase the explanation given by the inventors themselves:
The image above shows the main components in the Light Bandit. Sunlight enters the Light Bandit through a special mirror, called a Fresnel mirror(1), on the front of the product. The mirror has a special etching on it that transmits half of any incoming light while reflecting and focusing the other half. When sunlight first encounters the mirror, half of this sunlight passes directly into the Light Bandit where it is reflected by an array of small mirrors(2) underneath the Fresnel mirror. Using two low-cost motors to move a Translating Sheet(3) and Rotating Rods(4), this mirror array slowly moves and tracks the sun throughout the day. A simple light sensor and motor controller in the base of the unit(5) ensures that the mirrors are always oriented such that they reflect the sunlight back toward the Fresnel mirror parallel to the mirror’s optical axis (we warned you this would get technical…). Half of this reflected light then gets re-reflected and focused by the Fresnel mirror into small optical channels that concentrate the sunlight into a larger optical fiber at the side of the product(6). These optical channels have a special coating on them that rejects the infrared portion of sunlight. Since plants, animals, and humans cannot see infrared light, this light is not desirable as it only heats up our living spaces. Once in the optical fiber, the optical fiber transmits the light much like a pipe transmits water. Light can be transmitted up to 30 feet from the Light Bandit.
Special light fixtures incorporate an optical diffusing element to redistribute the concentrated sunlight. These elements are integrated into the light fixture and can look like light bulbs, but they’re not! There is absolutely no electricity needed to operate the Light Bandit. The device is safe, it is not hot to the touch and the light emitted is harmless to your eyes.
For more information about Light Bandit check out the link below. For more information about the importance of sunlight to the human body, check out this very interesting article from Health Ambition!