$5 solar lamp tackles poverty in Africa

May 23, 2017 //By Nick Flaherty
The SM100 solar lamp costs just $5 and lasts for five hours
A UK design agency has teamed with charities in Africa to develop a solar lamp that costs just $5 (€4.45).

Over 600m people in Africa without access to electrical power use kerosene lamps. This keeps families locked in a cycle of extreme poverty with almost one quarter of their monthly income spent burning the fuel.

Inventid in Manchester worked with charity SolarAid and Yingli Solar to design a light that the poorest families could afford. The SM100 uses a 0.5W LED that provides five hours of light from a 3.2V 300mAh LiFePO4 lithium battery. This is charged from a 4V, 50mA polycrystalline solar panel.

The lamp has been tested on the ground at each stage of development. A trial with nine thousand families in three countries determined the capabilities that would appeal to such families.

The SM100 casing features strap slots so it can be used as a head torch or strapped to a bike, while a flat base allows the light to be used without the stand. The off-centre pivot also allows the device to fold down small, greatly improving packing efficiency. 

The lamp is on sale across Africa at $5 but retails for £10 in the UK, providing SolarAid with additional funds at www.solar-aid-eco-shop.co.uk/collections/products/products/sm100

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