Affordable Solar Home Lighting (2007)
Arnoud de Vroomen
With rural electrification in Madagascar at only three per cent, people resorted to kerosene lamps. Besides the problem of indoor air pollution, these lamps were a fire risk and emitted a lot of CO2. Bernard Hulshof designed a solar lighting system powered by a separate solar panel for social enterprise, BushProof.
His portable light ball was powered by a separate solar panel. Its lithium battery lasted some 50 hours on the lowest of the four dimmer switch settings, meaning it could be used as a nightlight to replace candles. Technological advances enabled this kind of consumer product for people in low income countries. Changing attitudes also played a role: rather than giving things for free and disrupting the market place, people should have access to products for a reasonable price. With BushProof focusing on water and sanitation, Hulshof and partner Arnoud de Vroomen set up startup SolarWorks! to continue working on solar lighting.
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(English subtitles available)
The increasing efficiency of solar panels, LED lighting and batteries meant that solar lighting was becoming a feasible solution for people living in remote locations, far away from the electrical grid.
Bernard’s prototype was spherical, as potential users preferred this shape, reminiscent of the lightbulb. The symmetrical shape also meant he could use a single hemispherical mould, lowering production costs.