Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Low Cost Solar Lighting Kits

In remote Regions of Developing Countries the people tend to use the traditional methods of either burning firewood, lighting candles or kerosene lanterns in order to provide lighting during the night time periods.  It is well known that candles and kerosene are expensive for these people as well as being harmful to the eyes - particularly when children are exposed to these types of lighting.   In addition, gathering firewood is heavy, hard work that is generally carried out by the women and sometimes the children of these communities and burning firewood can contribute to larger rural fires that can destroy large areas of vegetation.  Burning firewood is also not really environmentally responsible and could be considered to be somewhat of an unsustainable resource.  In many cases the remote Regions in Asia, Pacific Islands, and Africa are blessed with abundant amounts of solar energy which is freely available but is very much underutilized.  In order to overcome the problems with traditional lighting methods there has been a concerted effort to develop low cost, but effective solar lighting systems for these Regions.   The benefits of using the low cost solar lighting kits is that they are easy to install, are safe to handle, and simple to operate.  The solar PV lighting kits generate direct (DC) current which is totally safe to use unlike alternating current (AC) that is used in most developed world locations.   A NI-MH (Nickel Metal Hydride) rechargeable battery is used instead of lead-acid battery or NI-CD battery because of its long life, no memory effect, non-toxic, and is environmentally friendly.  Once the kit is installed, the sun will provide the energy needed to operate one 6V/1W LED lamp that is supplied with the Model SRY-001E (as illustrated above) for up to 8 hours after the battery is fully charged.   The expected life cycle of the Model SRY-001E lighting kit is approximately 10 years.  Over charging and discharging protection devices are incorporated into these lighting kits to simplify the use of the products.  Additional charging points are also available for other devices such as mobile phones.

Since the year 2009 over 100,000 pieces of the Model SRY-001E Lighting Kits have been installed in various parts of Africa and another 20,000 units have been sent to remote locations in South America.  The World Bank has recently conducted quality testing for the Model SRY-001E product and it has now been passed and has been accepted for their "Lighting Africa" Solar program.
There are a number of different Solar lighting kit models available in the range that are CE accredited and also include extra LED lamps and other charging options.  These kits have slightly larger solar panels that are capable of collecting the additional solar energy that is necessary to power the extra lights or charging points. 

By Mel Peatey