A person holding a hand over a solar powered lamp standing on a desk.

IKEA and Little Sun bring solar power to light at home and hand

How can we make solar energy more visible and tangible in everyday life? It’s one of the questions IKEA and Little Sun set out to answer in developing SAMMANLÄNKAD, two LED lamps powered by solar energy in more ways than one. We spoke to designer Philipp Käfer and engineer Philip Holm to learn how it manifests in the eye-catching SAMMANLÄNKAD table lamp.

About one hundred and fifty million kilometres away, the hot, glowing ball of hydrogen and helium known as the sun radiates energy vital to most life on our home planet. Energy that humanity has also harnessed in the past few thousand years – from the once simple ways of concentrating sunrays for starting fires, to the complex systems that convert sunlight into a fast-growing renewable energy source today.

The latter calls to mind massive solar panels on roofs or industrial fields that feed directly into the grid. But solar power also tends to dot many daily lives in small ways. Like in tiny solar lamps decorating a garden, or a solar powered calculator set up for a math test.

“I think the massive solar panels and tiny solar lamps are the most common approaches to solar energy. Many people don’t have a real feeling or understanding for the possibilities to implement it at a medium level yet, where it can make a tangible difference in their daily life”, says Philipp Käfer, designer for Little Sun.

A man in a grey sweater standing on his knees besides a table holding a solar powered lamp.
Philipp Käfer, designer for Little Sun, with the SAMMANLÄNKAD table lamp.

A solar lamp from IKEA and Little Sun with a star attraction

A stainless solar powered lamp with a mirror standing on a desk.
The SAMMANLÄNKAD table lamp is reminiscent of the sun and earth's orbit around it by design.

The mirror carries a lot of that power. Its function is ultimately threefold: completing the sphere, slightly adding light power thanks to its reflective surface, and visually severing the connection between sphere and lamp stand. All giving a stronger nod to the visual of the sun floating in space, the gyroscope design as enabler. And as the SAMMANLÄNKAD table lamp doubles as a pendant lamp, it can very well float in the home much the same.

“The gyroscope also offers the possibility to align the solar panel directly to the sun, so it can be charged efficiently”, says Philipp, noting that the technical aspects of the lamp were also central to the design process.

A person holding a solar powered lamp, showing the solar cell panel on the back of the lamp.
The gyroscope design of the SAMMANLÄNKAD table lamp makes it easy to adjust both solar panel and light direction.
One hand holding a stainless solar powered lamp and a finger is pointing towards the light source.

What it takes to bring the sun home

At IKEA of Sweden in Älmhult, Product Design Engineer Philip Holm places the SAMMANLÄNKAD table lamp on a workshop table, going on to detail the lamp’s qualities. An aspect he notes with particular enthusiasm is the power of the light, a feature managed to differentiate it from many decorative solar lamps on the market.

A man in a black sweater standing in an office environment.
Philip Holm, Product Design Engineer at IKEA.

An important aspect was to get a higher light output than the cosy, soft garden lighting.

“Solar-powered products are best charged outdoors, so we have to make sure that they last in that environment. The sturdiness and durability are in the material, and for the SAMMANLÄNKAD table lamp, that’s stainless steel for a quality finish that weathers the outdoors”, Philip explains.

He also notes that the brightness of daylight offered by a cloudy, dreary southern Swedish winter day is only a fraction of that of a long, sunny summer day, which naturally has significance to solar powered products. The contrast at the same given time in peak daylight can be as stark as getting only a few hundred lux – which may not even meet the threshold for a charge – versus more than 100 000 lux in the case of the latter.

“It’s important to remember that these products as solar powered are largely seasonal, which is why we made sure that the SAMMANLÄNKAD table lamp can also be plugged in”, says Philip.

The two SAMMANLÄNKAD solar powered LED lamps are designed to spark curiosity about solar energy in everyday objects.

An exploration of ideas captured in multifunction

Two hands holding a white solar powered lamp.
The smaller, portable SAMMANLÄNKAD LED lamp offers practicality for outdoor settings, and can be hung by its strap.

The SAMMANLÄNKAD solar lamps will be available in selected IKEA markets in April 2023.