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Gravity Powered Floor Lamps

When you hear the phrase "alternative energy," chances are your mind goes to windmills and solar panels, or perhaps fields of corn. Few people think of human beings as a renewable energy source. But a new lamp design taps into just that idea.

It's not a new concept: Wind-up watches and clocks, and even hourglass-style timekeepers, have relied on humans as energy sources for many centuries. A person winds it up or flips it over, and the device has a renewed supply of potential energy with which to operate. Modern inventions like bicycle-powered blenders and kinetic battery chargers draw on energy stored in the human body, too.

Much like these designs, the gravity-powered lamp envisioned by Clay Moulton, a graduate student at Virginia Tech when his lamp won second place at the 2008 Greener Gadgets Design Competition, relies on people for power. In this case, the people don't wind a gear or pedal a bike; instead, they lift a series of weights back to their starting point. The Gravia lamp is powered by the falling motion of those weights, also known as gravity.

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A Gravia Lamp is a kinetic energy lamp based upon gravity. This concept has won second place at Greener Gadget Design Competition. This concept uses human energy resource to light up the LEDs. The concept was to uses a different alternative energy resource apart from solar panels and windmills. Human beings are considered as a renewable energy source and this concept uses this consideration to power up the lamp.


 The Gravia Lamp was created by Clay Moulton

 On providing energy, the lamp could operate for 4 hours

 The concept achieved second place at the 2008 Greener Gadget Design Competition


Method: Thorough discussion of the lamp’s individual components

Topic Sentence: This part of the study covers the components used in the production of the Gravia Lamp

Main Points 

 The lamp is five feet tall and cylindrical in shape

 The main component is the brass weight (5*10 pounds) that has to be lifted by the user from the bottom to the top of the lamp

 The weights have to be attached to the ball screw that falls down due to the gravity

 Due to the downward motion, the rotor in the lamp starts spinning and produces energy

 Each and every component is aligned vertically with the lamp


Method: Detailed analysis of the limitations

Topic Sentence: The study covers the limitations of the Gravia Lamp with respect to its practical applicability

Main Points 

 The overall size of the lamp is very big

 The weights used in the lamp is quite heavy for a normal human being

 The LEDs are unable to operate for 200 years as stated by the designer

 The model is difficult to be manufactured

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Expanded Definition 

The basic idea of Gravia Lamp came from the kinetic energy produced by human beings. The light gets generated when the user lifts the weights from the bottom to the top of the lamp, the weights slowly falls using the spin screw (Rotstein, 2016). The weight causes the rotor to spin and produces kinetic energy. The energy produced by the movement of the rotor is harnessed by the internal mechanism to produce electricity. The electricity produced is capable of powering up ten high output LEDs placed in the four-foot-high acrylic column. As stated by Packard et al. (2018), the LEDs glow between 600 to 800 lumens. The lamp is capable of glowing for 4 hours. In spite of all the doubts regarding the engineering feasibility of the map, the concept of the lamp was quite appealing. 

According to Clay Moulton, the Gravia Lamp is a conceptual challenge for the LED lighting, identifying the current limitation of the LEDs and the rapid pace of innovation. As stated by Clay Moulton the Gravia Lamp mechanics could last for 200 years. 

Some criticism has emerged from the people regarding the manufacturing of Gravia Lamp. The criticism is about the weight involved in the Lamp, it is not possible for everyone to lift that amount of weight from time to time (Tanushevsk and Rendevski, 2016).  The model designer Clay Moulton has also acknowledged the fact and recommends that the current design is not possible because of the weight issues and current LED technology. The designer also stated that the Lamp has to go through some changes in order to overcome the issues and the new model is coming in the near future (Twidell and Weir, 2015). The main motto of the model was to develop greener gadgets for the future as the energy resources are continuously depleting. 

The Gravia is based upon a simple concept of gravity. The lamp is basically a standing floor lamp nearly 5 feet tall and cylindrical in shape. The cylinder contains the main components of the lamp. The cylinder contains 5 ten pounds of weights, the weight has to be lifted by the user to the top of the lamp. The weight is attached to the ball screw near the top of the lamp and due to the weight the ball screw starts dropping along with the weight, the and weight and ball is aligned along the length of the lamp. The ball screw makes the rotor spin when the ball screw falls down due to gravity. The ball screw converts the downward motion of gravity into the rotational motion which is required to spin the rotor near the bottom of the lamp. The spinning rotor or gear behaves like a generator, which basically converts the rotational motion into electricity. The electricity produced is capable of powering up ten LED bulbs which are placed inside the lamp. The LEDs illuminate the acrylic housing of the lamp. All of the operations are done within four hours. The LEDs lights up a few seconds after the brass weight start to fall. The LED emits between 600-800 lumens and this could be compared to the 40-watt bulb. The LEDs goes out after the brass weight is at the bottom of the lamp. The user has to input more power to light up the bulb, the user has to re-lift the brass weight to the top of the lamp to start the process again. This cycle has to be performed again and again in order to produce continuous light from the lamp. 

Using gravity as a source of energy is very innovative and hard to beat. As commented by Rezvani et al. (2015), this energy resource is free as well as an endless supply. The main benefit of the gravity energy resource is that it doesn't have to import, mined, refined or grown. The gravity energy supply could be one day used as the main power supply in the houses as well as in industries (Tietenberg and Lewis, 2016). The Gravia Lamp cannot be plugged into any external energy outlet and it is completely an environment-friendly gadget. The Gravia Lamp is completely self-contained and totally relying on human being input to trigger the cycle to create light as a final result. In order to generate enough power to light up the LEDs, the weight needs to weigh equivalently more than 50 pounds. The brass weight should weight nearly 2 tons which is not possible for every human being to lift weight to the top of the lamp (Miller et al. 2015). The LEDs needs to become significantly more efficient in order to make the Gravia Lamp a real possibility.


The Gravia Lamp is a very innovative gadget as it uses gravity as the source of energy. The concept of gravity as a source of energy let the gadget achieve second place in the gadget competition. This gadget only requires human being energy to produce energy. The Gravia Lamp is capable of operating for continuous four hours. Currently, the gadget is not possible to be manufactured to its size and the weights involved in the lamp. The designer is making efforts to overcome the issues in the gadget and accessible to everyone. The lamp is completely depended upon human resource energy and the gadget is completely eco-friendly. 

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