BioLite has always been on a mission to provide efficient and affordable sources of power that can be used anywhere. The company’s very first product was a camping stove that could generate energy from the heat created from burning sticks and leaves while cooking a meal. That energy was stored in an onboard battery pack and could then be used to recharge a cell phone, headlamp, or other small electronic devices.
Subsequent products, including portable solar panels and USB battery packs, continued this trend, allowing outdoor enthusiasts and travellers to live off the grid for extended periods of time. Recently, the company even introduced its new SolarHome 620 kit, which brings an affordable solar power solution to the remote regions.
But when BioLite first designed the SolarHome, it didn’t necessarily have its usual customer base in mind. In fact, the product was originally built with the idea of bringing power and light to remote corners of Kenya, a place where those resources are often at a premium.
The SolarHome 620 kit includes a 6-watt solar panel that is placed on the roof of a house, cabin, or van. That panel collects energy from the sun all day long, storing it in a 20-watt-hour control centre that is located inside the structure itself.
That box then uses the power to illuminate three hanging lamps that are included with the kit, bringing as much as 400 lumens of light to places where there was only darkness before. This allows students to continue their studies well after sunset and makes life much more productive and convenient for families in general.
The SolarHome control centre is also equipped with an FM radio to pick up local broadcasts and has the ability to connect to a smartphone to play back MP3 files. The multifunctional box also includes a USB port for charging cell phones or other electronic devices.
Designed to be easy to install and require very little maintenance, the SolarHome is already having a dramatic impact on the lives that it was designed to help. BioLite says that over 5,000 SolarHome kits are already installed and operational throughout western Kenya, where the product has been received with gratitude.
BioLite is currently completely sold out of its initial batch of SolarHome kits, but more are expected to become available in February.