Free lighting for the shop

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Forum topic by Pawky posted 03-14-2011 09:49 AM 2575 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Pawky's profile


278 posts in 3719 days

03-14-2011 09:49 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workshop lighting

I just found this idea for providing light to an area without using any electricity. It obviously wouldn’t work for everyone or necessarily all the time, but it is a way to save spending money on electricity. I recommend watching the video that they have on the page, it is very interesting.

I have not used this, I just found it, but it is something I may think of in the far future. Let me know what you think or if you’ve seen/used anything similar.

Materials needed:
2-liter soda bottle
black film canister
something for weather sealing

equivalent to a 50W light bulb (according to one person’s tests). They also do provide in the video a comparison of the light from these to that of from a light bulb.

12 replies so far

View mafe's profile


12650 posts in 4004 days

#1 posted 03-14-2011 12:53 PM

Quite amazing, and clever.
In the North where we have 250mm insulation in the roof, we will need some long bottles…. And it will be ice water.
I can imagine the potential of this in the third world is more than fantastic.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3875 days

#2 posted 03-14-2011 01:33 PM

wow thats quite impressive, if i ever buid a new shop i would try and take this in account, however as mafe said it can be a thermal bridge that pumps heat out of the space in cold climates.

i hate to have to turn on the lights in the workshop during the day, even though i have plenty of windows and a good exposition, it is just grey outside 6 months a year. only been 2 days so far this year that there was enough light outside to lit the inside enough.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7902 posts in 3829 days

#3 posted 03-14-2011 02:17 PM

1.) I would imagine that you could use PVC as an extension and have water-filled bottles at both ends to accomplish something similar.

2.) What about clear PVC that could be glued/sealed (or just use their caps)? Costs much more, but still energy efficient. Probably use sparingly.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View mainwoodworks's profile


112 posts in 3563 days

#4 posted 03-14-2011 02:29 PM

The bottles sound like a better solution than sky-lights. I have sky-lights in my shop’s roof. They give almost to much light. but what is worse is that they sweat and the condensation drips on any thing below. Such as table saws. Oh yes I have heat and airconditioning in the shop.

-- Measure twice, cut once, and hope for the best.

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3742 days

#5 posted 03-14-2011 02:36 PM

sounds pretty clever


View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3983 days

#6 posted 03-14-2011 03:32 PM

Cleaver idea, but I would be very reluctant to make several holes in a roof – and keep them weather tight.

How long do these last, and how often do they need maintenance (add water, etc.)?

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Pawky's profile


278 posts in 3719 days

#7 posted 03-14-2011 06:26 PM

It sounded like they don’t really need much maintenance since they are capped, have the film canister, and the bleach. There definitely are limits to it. Maybe you could add antifreeze too it or something to help w/ colder climates, not sure how it would effect its ability to reflect light :P Also, I know where I’m at we don’t necessarily get bright light year round, but even if you used them half the year and electricity the other half, that is a bit saved.

It reminds me of some of the setups I’ve seen for the underground areas used during prohibition and all that. They used glass pyramids in the sidewalks to light up the tunnels below. They worked very well and you really weren’t the wiser above ground either. Some simple technology is quite impressive.

View CaptRandy's profile


21 posts in 3577 days

#8 posted 03-14-2011 07:51 PM

Same idea on old whaling ships with a prism inserted on deck brought light to cabins. Have on in cabin of boat now.

View Bureaucrat's profile


18340 posts in 4567 days

#9 posted 03-15-2011 02:03 AM

Not substantially different (other than cost) from using fiber optic cable to bring light into the core of high rise buildings. A neat application just the same.

-- Gary D.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19826 posts in 4591 days

#10 posted 03-15-2011 07:10 AM

Should work fine until sundown or they seals start to leak.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4652 days

#11 posted 03-15-2011 07:38 AM

Here is the Youtube video of the inventor in Brazil. He came up with the idea during a blackout. It has subtitles in English.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View S4S's profile


2118 posts in 3596 days

#12 posted 03-15-2011 08:02 AM

Clever does not always mean practical . I have seen glass bottles mortared into walls to supply light and thermal mass ( New Mexico ) , not filled with water of course . As TopamaxSurvivor infers , these are accidents waiting to happen . Good idea for third world countries ? Look around , we are living in a third world country . That is to say, 97 % of us are . Ask Mafe what his children will pay for their college education or health care . Now that is clever.

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