Powerful Solar Light Spurring Income-making Opportunities
A clever innovator from India has built a highly durable solar lantern that also doubles as a mobile phone charger.
“For the size of the lamp, for the number of hours, for the features we give, including the mobile [phone] charging, we are 100 per cent portable; it is all integrated,” said Sunlite representative Divyesh Thakkar, while demonstrating the lantern at the 2012 Global South-south Development Expo, held recently in Vienna, Austria.
The Sunlite lantern– the js 30 mob sunlite -made by Sunlite solar is an LED light packed with clever innovations. It is completely selfcontained and does not require any extra parts, cables or separate solar panel to charge it. The clever design includes a pop-up, fold-down handle, a powerful solar photovoltaic (PV) panel on its top that – with a day out in the sun – charges the lantern battery enough to provide around 8 hours of 360-degree light when the sun goes down. It is also highly durable and moisture- and heat-resistant and can withstand a drop on a hard floor.
The manufacturer of the Sunlite lantern is India Impex, which focuses on making and exporting high-quality off-grid solar lighting products and sees itself as a “socially driven company.” Founded in 2009, it has built up its reputation as a global vendor to humanitarian and relief agencies.
The mobile phone charging capability has been seized as a great way to turn the lantern into an income-generating opportunity. Already, people are forming co-ops and charging rent time on the lantern for recharging mobile phones. And there are a few clever tweaks to the lantern to help control this.
“I don’t want this to be abused; I want it to be smart,” said Thakkar. “When someone comes in and charges the mobile phone and forgets, it is going to cut off after 20 minutes.”
Sunlite lanterns have many uses, according to the product’s maker. One aspect that the manufacturer is emphasizing is the importance of light to the security of women and children. There is overwhelming evidence that better lighting makes for a more secure environment and allows people to do more things safely at night. Children can look out for environmental threats such as poisonous snakes and spiders, and women and girls can feel safe doing things such as going to the toilet without worrying that somebody might attack them in the dark.
Solar power is being seen as a way to get electricity to people in areas bypassed by conventional electricity grid networks. It also helps to move people away from expensive, polluting and dangerous alternatives such as diesel generators, paraffin lamps, gas stoves and coal or dung fires.
“We compare our solar lantern to the kerosene lantern,” Sunlite representative Sagar Mehta explained. “On a payback basis, you use an approximate of 30 to 40 cents of a US dollar of kerosene every day for a four-hour light. First of all, it is very harmful: smoke inhalation, illnesses, burns, all sorts of things, security issues.
“That will cost a family one third or half of its income on a daily basis. If we can change this around where, if we can make a solar lantern, where the sun is free, that can pay back in three months and you start earning rathert han paying, [theyare] making a living.”
Sunlite lanterns are currently being distributed to people in disaster situations and also in refugee camps and displaced persons communities. – (December 2012)
• sunlite-solar.com • southsouthexpo.org
The Sunlite Solar light with handy carrying handle and solar panel on top for recharging.