Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Dec 17

Solar Lamps Transform an Indian Village

Posted in Energy Industry | Future Technology | Solar Power

Solar Lamp India Villagers of Wagharwadi till now knew how to make most of the daylight. This village is in Maharashtra, India. They used plastic plates as skylight. This kind of skylight helped women to recognize the ingredients stocked in their kitchens. After evening, villagers depended on candles and kerosene lamps. If some emergency or calamity forced to get some more light in the night they resorted to burning dry twigs. People living in the developed countries would find it a bit difficult to imagine such a situation.

Now the villagers of Wagharwadi are experiencing a revolution of sorts on communication front too. Actually a modified solar lamp has changed their lives. This solar lamp has a tiny plug point at the base for recharging mobiles. It is the idea of an electronics entrepreneur Kumaar Thakkar. Earlier the same villagers didn’t show much enthusiasm about solar lamps only. They complained that solar lamps are too costly for them. Its price was Rs. 1,600, roughly amounting to $34. Now almost every household is the proud owner of the solar lamp. Pandhari Nuruti Basme, a 21-year-old who sells solar lamps in the village, expresses his opinion, “After Kumaar sahab rigged the lamps to power mobile phones, they’re in great demand,”

How this modified solar lamp has caught the imagination of villagers? Imagine if you want to talk to your friends or near and dear ones, you have to take a walk to another village which has phones. Or if you have a mobile of your own you have to walk to another village to charge your mobile and have to pay a fee for charging. Sometimes one has to walk for an hour one way! Now Shivram Bhagat, a 23-year-old who ferries people from Kasara to Goti, has three ‘mobiles’! Once the villagers got news of the ‘mobile-charging batti’ (lighting device), not only an upsurge in the lamp sales was reported but mobile phones too! “Eight of the 17 houses in Wagharwadi have mobiles,” Bhagat says. “We have pre-paid connections and monthly top up for Rs 50.”

Kumaar introduced his solar lamps to the villagers few years ago. Those lamps worked on 30 LEDs (light emitting diodes) and a six volt battery to dispel darkness in the village. He donated five lamps to the local ashramshala (charity home), and offered to sell more to the villagers.

Only well-off villagers, who worked at construction sites or with the railways at Shahapur, Igatpuri and Kasara, opted out for the solar lamps. Dharma Goma Bhagat, who walks three hours to work in Kasara and back everyday, says, “I had to buy the lamp even though it is expensive. There’s no electricity, so what choice did I have?” Those who couldn’t afford to pay the money outright were offered the lamp on instalments of Rs 100 (roughly $2) a month. Pandhari, who is responsible for converting 10 of the 17 houses in Wagharwadi to solar power, says, “The battery lasts up to 12 hours in summer and four hours during the monsoon.” says. He has, to date, sold 60 lamps.

Now if we look at the statistics, solar lamps save villagers the Rs 100 (approx $2) they were spending every month on candles and kerosene. They were also spending Rs 1,200 ( approx $25.93) annually on fuel. Now they can get 10 years of light for Rs 1,600 (approx $34.58). They are also fewer incidents of accidental fires, respiratory problems and failing vision. Now villagers can indulge in indoor activities for a longer period of time. “All they have to do is leave the solar panel on their roof through the day,” says Pandhari, who has learned to fix minor problems like a broken switch.

Now villagers are indulging in another activity too. Through their own tinkering they have discovered another advantage of solar lamps. They are plugging a tiny six-volt television into the solar socket, and watching TV. Pandhari may consider marketing mini TVs now.

  • B S Murty

    Dear Mr. Thakkar,
    Congratulations on the development of a very useful product for Rural India. May God bless you for more products of such nature.

    We believe that this product will have a good demand in Andhra Pradesh too. Pl let us know who is marketing the product for you in A.P. How would you like to go about it in A.P.?

    We are an Institute for Clean Energy Technologies ( ICET ) engaged in manpower training and capacity building. We can work together for further enhancement of mutual interests.

    With regards,
    Yours sincerely,
    B S Murty.

  • anita

    Is there any possibility of buying in Europe?

  • Dave Rankin

    This is only a very small example of the progress that can be made with rural electrification! Think of the value that local farmers can add to their negotiations if they had a cell phone to get true values for their agricultural products – I have heard/read of stores where the villages standard of living virtually triples with access to power to re-charge cell phones – such a little cost for such a great benefit!!!

  • Jos Conil

    Great going Mr. Kumar! An example of how a simple initiative can transform the lives of villagers in developing countries.

  • Sepp Hasslberger

    Great idea and …

    that is an example of what I would call appropriate technology. Something people want can can actually use.

    Probably with large scale manufacture, those lamps could become even cheaper and reach more people, light up many more villages.

  • Dr S.N.Singh

    Dear sir

    The study reveals that one rural house in our Jharkhan state may require ten to 15 lamps to meet lighting requirement and hence it is suggested that one power pack of at least 150 watt must be designed and intelligent action for energy management must be incorporated in the system.

    I hope a reputed agency like yours can develop such home lighting system and can give a cost effective solution to rural masses specially in the mountainous area where grid network is not possible

    Prof(Dr) S.N.Singh
    NIT Jamshedpur

  • Mukunn V Mavalankar

    What an Idea Sirji! Simple but effective.


  • madge thomas

    I would like to get more information on this product. Could you send me how i can purchase this product wholesale. send me price lists. thank you.

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