Lighting accounts for up to 15% of the global energy use & 5% of all carbon emissions. Light pollution has drastic effects on the environment, well-being of all humans, animals, insects & plants. In the UK alone, we waste £1bn blighting up the night sky.

Penumbrella is a night art installation which questions the amount of wasted light in our nocturnal cities. It is a zero energy device which leeches off the lit surroundings in order to power itself. The light pollution in Central London is so extreme that it can charge solar panels at night. Mini solar cells were used to power the installation and convey the immediate energy conversion without batteries or sensors.

At a time when both the potency and the perception of darkness are diluted, the name of this installation is derived from Penumbra which means the lighter edge surrounding the perfect shadow (Umbra) of an eclipsed object. The mobility of the umbrella was an innate quality of the piece allowing it to be taken to places and used as a shield from both light and weather.

This installation was commissioned to raise awareness about light pollution among one of the most oblivious communities, the urban dwellers. The stylistic visual fashion and capturing London’s unique night-time ambiance was essential to the project in order to appeal to the urban audience.

For each facet of the umbrella, 4 solar cells (5V/500mAh) were wired in parallel to collect 10W of energy which were then connected to a short LED strip located inside the umbrella. The installation used a total of 32 panels in total (8 groups). The facets of the umbrella and the angled solar panels increased the area of coverage in order to absorb more light spill.

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