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Sources of light can be vitally important in an emergency and a flashlight (aka torch) is often at the top of the list for supplies in disaster preparedness packs. A source of light is also very valuable for those areas of the world where there is no central power grid. Ashraf Ghani once described a light bulb in every kitchen as being one of the most transformative things that could be done in Afghanistan. Lighting can extend working hours and allow children to study after working during the day, and also help adults take care of the household and even run small businesses. Adequate lighting is also important for security, and must be a consideration when establishing camps, whether short-term or long-term refugee camps.

The lights needed after a disaster and the lights for developing world often have similar characteristics, and many products are now using renewable power sources such as solar or mechanical or combinations of the two. Many lights that have renewable energy supplies are also combined with radios and cell phone chargers.

To help and share knowledge, TIDES has put together a list of informative websites on artificial lighting and a list of companies that can provide the equipment.

Recent improvements in, and mass production of, LEDs (light emitting diodes) have had a huge effect on the industry, because LEDs use significantly less power than incandescent bulbs, though the costs often are higher. They also can be arranged in diverse configurations because of low heat output and other characteristics. Fluorescent (especially compact-type), halogen and krypton bulbs are still valuable and can be found in many products.


The Lumina Project ( is a great resource on lighting, run by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Their goal is “Cultivating Technologies and Markets for Affordable Low-Carbon Off-Grid Lighting in the Developing World.”

They have a number of features which we want to highlight here:

The Sphere Project ( Artificial Lighting is considered a non-food-item (NFI) according to the Sphere standards, which are the common standards used by the international community, when providing support to disaster victims, refugees, and other displaced populations. TIDES highly recommends that those involved in such operations become familiar with the Sphere Standards available at the above link. However, the standards are not specific for the lighting category. A recent revision is that Sphere has started pushing the use of light sources other than gas lanterns or candles, but Sphere has no specifications for lighting at camps, other than recommending that these put in place. We did pull this quote from one of the drafts available at their website.

Artificial lighting: lanterns or candles can provide familiar and readily sourced lighting, although the fire risk of using such items should be addressed, as well as battery-powered torches. Consider the use of energy efficient artificial lighting such as light-emitting diodes (LEDS) and the provision of photo-voltaic solar panels to generate localised electrical power sources.


  • The following is a link to the Emergency Items catalog for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (ICRC). This has descriptions of many of the products that the ICRC uses in disaster response situations. For Lighting look for Volume 1, then “Power Supply and Equipment”
  • The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) lays out its recommendations for placement of lighting in camps in their handbook here
  • The Portable Light Project creates new ways to provide renewable power in solar textiles that can be adapted to meet the needs of people in different cultures and global regions. Portable Light helps the world’s poorest people to create and own energy harvesting bags, blankets, and clothing using local materials and traditional weaving and sewing techniques in an open source model.
  • These two articles from USAID’s publication Frontlines highlight some unique efforts in the developing world to make their own lights:


Each link will lead you to a new page that lists lighting solutions under these broad categories. (Note: TIDES does not endorse any specific products or stores, nor are we responsible for the content on the links.)

  • Solar-Powered
  • Mechanically Powered
  • Battery Powered
  • Large and Specialty use lighting systems (for airports, hospital, large camps, etc)

Outdoor equipment providers often have a large selection of flashlights available and provide the key characteristics on their webpage, such as bulb type, brightness (usually measured in lumens), battery life, weight, and other important factors to consider. If you are purchasing for your own disaster preparedness kit, try using some of these sites to compare products.

(TIDES does not endorse the above stores or products, nor are we responsible for their content or products.)




Megabrite Flashlights
Garrity Flashlights


Sunnight Solar


Many types of personal flashlights, and lighting systems for signaling, temporary runways, etc.
Clark Masts Systems Limited
Company produces many types of telescoping masts that can be used to hold lighting systems.
Portable Masts
Integrates many types of masts, lighting, and power systems for emergency use.
This company out of Germany makes many lighting solutions for constructions and military uses, but this durability may be useful in disaster situations. They have a separate website for military lighting here -
Novatech Lighting
Company focuses on lighting products for the emergency responder, such as Police, Fire, and Emergency medical services.
Numerous medium-sized LED solutions and LED flashlights.
Carmanah Solar
Combines solar power and LED lighting for various applications including airports, marine, traffic, and general outdoor lighting.
Naps Systems

Sol, Inc.: Disaster Response Solar Lighting Systems (DRL)

SOL Inc’s Disaster Response Solar Light System provides off-grid and reliable solar powered LED lighting for fast deployment and dependable light. Reliable off-grid lighting allows disaster relief and recovery operations to operate 24 hours a day.

Disaster Response Solar Light (DRL)
Solar Powered LED Lighting System
Made in the USA by SOL®.


SOL, INC: Solar Powered Overhead Street Lighting (Designed for African Roadways))

Approximately 90% of Africans do not have lighting. A proven solution is solar powered lighting.
Enhancing lives in the community
• Improves safety
• Improves commercial prosperity
• Increases socialization
• Reduces accidents, injuries and death
• Decreases migration from villages


Sol, Inc: 20/20™ & 10/10™ Lighting

THe TT Series is Sol’s latest state-of-the-art LED lighting system designed for large spaces such as parking lots and perimeter security areas. It delivers superior light performance in an architectural package that increases pole spacing, lighting uniformity and simplifies installation. The TT Series unified design incorporates a low profile LED luminaire (either a 10/10 or 20/20), light engine, PV assembly and pole that is powder coated your color choice.


Sirona Cares

Our Mission: To build sustainable communities.
The Sirona Cares Foundation (SCF) builds sustainable communities by addressing two of the most damaging and persistent patterns in the developing world: poverty and ecological destruction. Our pilot program, started in Haitian rural communities, establishes a stable economic base through jatropha farming, while supporting the health and education of children; this program is fully scalable and applicable to the great majority of countries in the developing world.


Coast - Emergency LED Lights

The Coast EAL20 LED Lantern has 9 high-quality LED's which provide incredible brightness and energy efficiency, giving you up to 100 hours of runtime on one set of (4) D cell batteries (not included). Choose between flashing red, solid red, area light, and energy saving modes; or select your preferred light level with the built-in dimming switch. Backed by Coast's lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship.