Chicago, IL. March 26, 2017 - Solar start-up LuminAID has successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign for a new version of their patented solar lantern that now has the ability to charge phones. The campaign for the invention, called the PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger, raised over $270,000 after an initial goal of $15,000.
The crowdfunding campaign launched on Kickstarter and quickly gained traction, meeting its first funding goal in under 8 hours. The team at LuminAID subsequently announced two additional goals above the initial $15K target (called ‘stretch goals’) over the 26 day campaign. The second stretch goal of $200,000 was reached in early March, well before the end of the campaign. The LuminAID project was soon featured on Kickstarter website’s “Projects We Love” feature page. Early backers could purchase a PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger for a reduced cost of $30 over the expected retail price of $39.95. Other backer options included a version of the company’s celebrated “Give Light Get Light” project, in which customers purchase a solar light while sponsoring a light for a family without access to electricity. At the final total, the campaign attracted 3,964 backers and $279,000.
The new solar invention by the Chicago-based team integrates a solar phone charger and lantern into a lightweight expandable frame. The PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger, developing on the original solar lantern patent, is designed for outdoor use as well as humanitarian aid for communities without ready access to electricity. The solar tool is waterproof, floats, and can be submerged up to 1 meter deep (IP67). The PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger packs flat to under an inch thick, and expands into a 6 inch cube to evenly diffuse light in lantern mode. There are 5 brightness settings including an emergency flashing mode, and the solar lantern can shine up to 150 lumens. On the low setting, the light can last up to 50 hours on a single charge. The USB charging port can charge e-readers and iPads as well as cell phones. There are two ways to recharge the battery for light or phone charging: 12-14 hours via solar charge, or 1-2 hours via the USB input port.
The original LuminAID solar lantern was invented by Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta as a humanitarian solution for lack of electricity in tent cities following the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti. The LuminAID inventors again cited humanitarian impact as an important driving force in the development of the combined solar phone charger and compact lantern. Refugees find their lives and families suddenly disrupted, often leaving them far from basic services such as electricity. As they make their way toward safety however, keeping in touch with loved ones and calling for help are among refugees’ top priorities. The ability to reliably charge cell phones therefore becomes essential. A portable lantern for temporary shelters is another priority, allowing families to complete basic tasks or children to read after dark. Co-founders Anna and Andrea hope that the PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger can respond to some essential challenges faced by refugees, and provide some comfort.
With this goal in mind, the Kickstarter for the PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger included several humanitarian packages for backers to show their support for refugees. LuminAID also announced in the midst of the campaign that they would donate 1,000 solar lights to families in need if the Kickstarter reached $200,000--a goal which was easily met. Through donor packages and the stretch goal, the crowdfunding campaign raised a total of 850 PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger and 2,350 solar lanterns for refugees and other families without ready access to electricity.
First packages of PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger will be sent to early backers in April, while backers who joined later in the campaign will receive their solar gear in May and June when production picks up. The PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger will then be available for exclusive sale at REI retail and online stores through September.
The company will continue to offer its PackLite line, a full range of solar inflatable lanterns. The PackLite Max USB is the original solar lantern design for the PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger, and features identical runtimes but without the device charging capability. The original design for the LuminAID inflatable solar lights started with the patented flagship design, first released in 2010. Since then, LuminAID inflatable solar lights have been used in more than 70 countries around the world. Also available are the PackLite Nova USB, a more compact variation on the cube lantern design, and the PackLite Spectra USB, its color-changing counterpart.