Simple Solar Power Kits Bring Light To Western Kenya

Initially designed as a tool for camping, this solar power kit is changing the lives of families that have always lived off the grid.


May 18 2019, Updated 2:42 p.m. ET

BioLite is known for their work building technology for people who want to live off the grid and produce clean energy. Their smokeless fire pits cut emissions while producing power for things like smartphones and tablets. But their stuff isn't just for camping. 

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Their SolarHome 620 kit has become popular in homes that are off the electrical grid, particularly in Western Kenya, where many households are without electricity. According to Digital Trends, Kenyan families weren't necessarily the customer base BioLite had in mind, but the product's simple installation and powerful abilities made it an effective solution for households that couldn't connect to the grid and its use quickly spread.

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The BioLite SolarHome 620 has three hanging lamps that are powered by a 6-watt solar panel, which can be installed on the top of a house, or on the top of your van, if you're a traveling camper. The panel collects energy, which is stored in a control center kept inside the structure it's attached to. 

The control center also sports an FM radio, ports for charging phones, and it can connect to enabled devices to playback your own music. This means it doesn't provide just light, it provides entertainment.

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Though extremely useful for campers, the company is pushing to expand the use of the kits in Kenya, and is contributing revenue from its site for Giving Tuesday to distributing more of them.

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A SolarHome kit costs about $150, and can bring hours of light to socialize, work, study, or just relax while listening to music in places that struggled to maintain these basic necessities. They are currently sold out, if you also want one for your home, but more will be available in February of 2018.

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