Solar lights to live by
Tuesday, 14 May 2013, 3:26 pm
Press Release: Women in Business Development
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 14 May 2013
HEADLINE: Solar lights to live by
Women in Business President Sheree Stehlin (left), Apia Rotarian Robyn O’Dell and Malie farmer Ioane Paulo (front) show off a six pack of solar-powered lights.
Rotarian Robyn O’Dell says the solar-powered lights should improve the quality of life for families without power and reduce power bills for other families.
“We also see the lights increasing safety in the home by replacing kerosene lamps,” says O’Dell.
She says these solar lights have been used in renewable energy projects in Papua New Guinea with great success, and it was the first time they were being offered in Polynesia.
The sturdy Flexiway lights are sold individually and can be clicked together to form larger units. On a full charge, the powerful 9cmx9cm lights will give off six to eight hours of light or up to 12-15 hours on the 50 per cent setting.
“We received seed funding Rotary groups in Australia and Apia Rotary covered the wharf costs,” says O’Dell. “Now, Women in Business will begin to sell the lights to families across Samoa for a small price.” She says the proceeds from the lights, which are being discounted to farming families at $20, will be used buy more lights to help more families in Samoa.
Ioane Paulo, a vegetable farmer from Malie, was the first recipient to receive the lights last week. His family lives in three Samoan fale and use a mixture of kerosene lamps and electric lights.
“We had no power for weeks after Tropical Cyclone Evan and we often have power cuts in our area so we have to use the hurricane lamps,” says Paulo. “We are so grateful to Rotary and Women in Business for thinking of us and I congratulate them for bringing a project like this to Samoa, because we are not able to buy lights like these here.”
Paulo said he felt “blessed” to be the first family to have the lights and they came at good time because of Mother’s Day.
Women in Business president Sheree Stehlin also thanked O’Dell and Rotary for their initiative. “Lighting is very important for our people, especially for our children who do their homework at night.” “We commend Rotary for this project and for all the work they do in the community.”
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Our small solar-powered LED light, the Solar Muscle, was one of only 4 finalists chosen for the Aid Expo innovation Award ceremony which was held today.
In the end the award itself went to Divyesh Thakkar who presented another solar light which costs much more, is larger and more breakable, but also charges phones.
Here is our founder James during his presentation of the Solar Muscle to the audience and jury. He is still around in Brussels for the next days, so let us know if you want to meet to discuss opportunities!
We congratulate Divyesh and are sure that both our lights will help getting people out of poverty by replacing kerosene lamps. It is great to see that Aid Expo has recognized the importance of light for the delivery of international Aid. Please see the Awards backgrounds and the 4 finalists here. Our Solar Muscle is the smallest and lightest but also strongest light available and therefore perfect for Aid Organisations. It is weatherproof and fits nearly 3000 lights in a cubic metre!
This week the Economist magazine and website posted a great article that supports our vision and our light! It is wonderful to read the approval of such an influential publication, thanks for your support!
The full article can be found online here: www.economist.com/node/21560983, here are the introduction and some quotes:
WHICH plastic gadget, fitting neatly in one hand, can most quickly improve the lives of the world’s poorest people? For the past decade the answer has been clear: the mobile phone. But over the next decade it will be the solar-powered lamp, made up of a few light-emitting diodes (LEDs), a solar panel and a small rechargeable battery, encased in a durable plastic shell. Just as the spread of mobile phones in poor countries has transformed lives and boosted economic activity, solar lighting is poised to improve incomes, educational attainment and health across the developing world.
As previously happened with mobile phones, solar lighting is falling in price, improving in quality and benefiting from new business models that make it more accessible and affordable to those at the bottom of the pyramid. And its spread is sustainable because it is being driven by market forces, not charity.
Phones spread quickly because they provided a substitute for travel and poor infrastructure, helped traders find better prices and boosted entrepreneurship. For a fisherman or a farmer, buying a mobile phone made sense because it paid for itself within a few months. The economic case for solar lighting is even clearer: buying a lamp that charges in the sun during the day, and then produces light at night, can eliminate spending on the kerosene that fuels conventional lamps. Of the 1.4 billion people without access to grid electricity, most live in equatorial latitudes where the sun sets quickly and there is only a brief period of twilight. But solar lamps work anywhere the sun shines, even in places that are off the grid, or where grid power is expensive or unreliable.
Flexiway, an Australian-Argentine maker of solar lamps, found in its trials in Tanzania that households often spent more than 10% of their income on kerosene, and other studies have put the figure as high as 25%. And kerosene does not merely eat up household income that could be spent on other things. It is also dangerous. Kerosene lanterns, a century-old technology, are fire hazards.
The Solar Muscle, a solar lamp made by Flexiway, can be used as a desk light. Its compact, square design, with a solar panel on one side and LEDs on the other, also allows several lamps to be snapped together to make a larger panel. The square design arose after an earlier, circular version was mistaken for a landmine, says James Fraser of Flexiway. The firm can pack 2,750 of its $10 lamps in a cubic metre—a plus in countries where transport is expensive. They are being distributed by NGOs in Papua New Guinea and several African countries.
Most solar lamps allow the battery to be replaced once it wears out, and some (such as Flexiway’s) use standard-sized rechargeable batteries to make replacement as simple as possible. But this creates a new pollution problem: there are no facilities to recycle the old batteries. Flexiway suggests that entrepreneurs selling rechargeable batteries could offer a discount when old batteries were traded in and gather them up for centralised recycling, but it is unclear whether this model would work.
Demand for cheap, efficient lighting is only going to grow. Even in the best-case scenarios, the number of people without electricity will tick up to 1.5 billion by 2030, as population growth outstrips electrification. The rate of innovation in delivery models, technology and design, in both rich and poor countries, suggests a bright future for solar lamps—and a slow dimming of kerosene’s flame.
The full article can be found online here: www.economist.com/node/21560983, please read it and share it with your friends!
*** UPDATE: the Solar Muscles can now be shipped worldwide! Check out the Solar lights shop here and order your 6-pack or donate light to our projects! ***
The online shop for Australia is open! Now you can save $$$ on your electricity bill while doing your part for the environment…
10 years ago I used to leave the water running while brushing my teeth, now I wouldn’t think of it. I used to leave my lights on when going out, now I wouldn’t dream of it!
I guess over the years I’ve been educated how the small day-to-day changes I make can leave our planet a little better off… These days I find not only am I trying to do my bit to help the environment, but I am trying to do it in conjunction with reducing my day to day cost of living. With water, electricity, food and many other basic costs of living going up, I think many of us are looking for ways to reduce our costs such as electricity bills.
The sunny side of it
Electricity companies continually increase their prices and with the recent introduction of the carbon tax, increased costs are hitting our hip pockets.
A few years ago I changed my light bulbs to energy-saving lights, to help the environment and my hip pocket. 12 months ago I took the next step and let the sun start creating more savings for our household. While large solar installations are still expensive, I have found that smaller portable solar lights like the Solar Muscle can make a big and direct difference in costs!
How much could you save?
I have been using the Solar Muscle for my home lighting for the past 12 months and have taken my daily usage from $4.40 per day to $1.20. My friend Aletia took hers down from $6.71 to $4.71.
For more information on how we reduced your cost, or to purchase your own 6-pack of solar lights, go to www.Flexiwaysolar.com/shop. While the regular price is $125.00 + shipping, I am doing a pre-sale price for family and friends for AU$99.00 which includes shipping and delivery (only in Australia). If you save as much as we did, you could recover your initial outlay for the lights in 1-2 months in energy savings!
Help others at the same time
Additionally, for every 6-pack sold, 1 extra light will be donated to the Kokoda Track Foundation for their PNG project. So you are not only helping your wallet and the planet, but are helping to light up another family’s life! To find out more about the PNG project click here for photos and a video
We need your help
As we all know, nothing is for nothing, so in return for this discount I hope you can do me a favour: please spread the word by forwarding this to your friends, posting it on FaceBook, Twitter, G+ etc . I also need to do my FAQ page and we are looking for more testimonials, photos of the lights in use and success stories of savings, so please send through any feedback or questions you might have!
PS: Please fell free to share this email and the shop page (www.Flexiwaysolar.com/shop) with your friends, in fact we would really appreciate that!
*** UPDATE: the Solar Muscles can now be shipped worldwide! Check out the Solar lights shop here and order your 6-pack or donate light to our projects! ***
Earlier this month the Queensland Premier Sustainability Awards organisation has honoured FlexiWay Solar as one of the 3 ‘finalists’ in the Small Business category.
The awards were focused on Australian business rather than our impact in the rest of the world, so we were pleasantly surprised to see we got through to the final 3! It was really special as we were in the ‘up to 50 employees’ category, so a lot of great businesses to compete against.
See also the finalists page on the official website here.
The introductory blurb about us was:
FINALIST—Flexiway Solar Solutions
Flexiway Solar Solutions has developed a small, light weight solar light called the ‘Solar Muscle’, that provides twice as much light as a kerosene lamp which are still used in developing countries.
The lights are being distributed to areas of need by non-government organisations. The solar muscle can be sold and air freighted anywhere in the world for under $10 per unit. For every six kerosene lamps that are replaced by solar muscle lights one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions are saved.
Thanks to the QLD sustainability awards for this! If you know of any other award that we should be applying for, please let us know!
We are very proud of the following video, showing the successful Solar Muscle project that Flexiway Solar has implemented together with the Kokoda Track Foundation in Papua New Guinea.
Lighting up the Kokoda Track: the video
This is a segment of Australia’s Channel 10′s The Project, which they generously shared with us. The photos are mostly screenshots from Channel 10′s video report, additional pictures and the press release supplied by the KTF, all rights reserved.
(The segment is 5 minutes, the part about the lights starts at 1’50”)
Here are some screenshots of the happy villagers and thankful kids who can study again, KTF’s director Dr Genevieve Nelson and Mr Bede Tongs, WWII veteran. (c) Channel 10, Australia.
The project: lighting up the Track
The Kokoda Track Foundation, is commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the WWII Kokoda campaign by providing 3500 solar lights to the descendants of the legendary Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels who helped out the Australian soldiers so much when needed. The KTF aims to give a solar-powered LED light to every villager along the Kokoda Track, an area without access to electricity.
“This project is a game changer. It will dramatically improve people’s lives in ways many Australians will find difficult to imagine,” KTF chairman, Patrick Lindsay, said today.“It will mean villages will no longer have to live by the dull glow of their camp fires after sundown. It will enable school students to read books and do their homework after dark for the first time in their lives. It will allow families to prepare and eat their dinner in safety and comfort.”
Partners bringing light
The KTF has partnered with Brisbane-based social enterprise, FlexiWay Solar, to source the solar lights, which were developed in Australia and Argentina and made in China. The lights are weatherproof, dust-proof and shock-proof and will last for 8 hours on full power and 15 hours on half power on a full day’s solar charge. Individual lights can be clicked together to illuminate larger dwellings, schoolrooms and community halls.
One of the heroes of the Kokoda campaign, Mr Bede Tongs MM, a platoon commander in the 3rd Battalion during the battles in the area 70 years ago, delivered the first solar lights to Koko village, near Kokoda, this week. Mr Tongs also presented graduation certificates to 56 teachers who qualified for an Elementary Teaching Certificate last week by completing a six-week course run by the KTF in Koko village.
“It was an honour to bring some light to the lives of the families of the men who helped us all those years ago,” Mr Tongs said. “I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received from both the villagers and the graduates,” Mr Tongs added. “I felt I was representing my comrades, especially those who did not return home with us. ”I’m sure the new teachers will make a huge difference in improving the prospects of the coming generations of people from the area and the lights will change lives dramatically.”
A great challenge with great success
The Foundation has just returned from Papua New Guinea where it delivered 3,500 solar lights to more than 30 villages throughout the catchment area – giving every adult living along the Kokoda Track a source of light.
The Foundation travelled by foot, road, air and water into the communities across the Oro and Central Provinces and engaged local volunteers and porters to assist in delivering the lights. Villages that previously had no access to lighting now have multiple light sources for every household in the village.
Lighting up the developing world
Solar lighting projects across the developing world have been shown to have numerous benefits for families and communities including alleviating poverty, promoting health benefits, preventing fire hazards, and enabling educational opportunities.
Villages reported that the lights will make a vital contribution to their livelihoods and will enable them move around their village after dark in safety, to work on small businesses for longer, and to give their children more time to complete their homework and studies after dark. Schools and community halls in the region are reporting running classes after hours and having the ability to offer up more training than before.
Partnering with Flexiway Solar Solutions, the Foundation has delivered 3,500 solar lights which have the ability to click together so that families can come together at night and share meals and participate in community meetings – under a panel of solar bright enough to light a community hall or school classroom!
The Foundation is relying on the generous support of its Trek Operator Partners to fund this program and distribute the lights. Click here to see who was helping us to Light Up The Track!
What is the Kokoda Track?
The Kokoda Trail or Track is a single-file foot thoroughfare that runs 96 kilometres (60 mi) overland — 60 kilometres (37 mi) in a straight line — through the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea. The track is the most famous in Papua New Guinea and is known for being the location of the World War II battle between Japanese and Australian forces in 1942. (WikiPedia article)
Who is the Kokoda Track Foundation?
As you can read on our Partners page:
The Kokoda Track Foundation is an Australian philanthropic organisation which aims to repay the selfless help given to Australia during WWII by the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ of Papua New Guinea by helping to improve the lives and futures of their descendants.
It does that by assisting with their education and healthcare, by trying to protect their environment, by helping to foster the growth of an eco-friendly trekking and tourism industry from which they can benefit, by working to keep the story of Kokoda alive, and by seeking to identify and foster the next generation of PNG leaders.
Who is FlexiWay Solar?
Flexiway Solar Solutions wants to improve the lives of our fellow human beings by replacing dangerous and expensive kerosene lamps by affordable Solar-powered LED lights, creating a brighter future for everybody on our planet.
Together with the KTF, FSS designed the PNG project, delivered 3000 lights for the lowest price possible and donated 500 additional lights, thanks to our supporters who donated through our IndieGoGo project as well as directly.
The KTF and FSS will keep on working together to brighten up the lives of the people of Papua New Guinea even more in the future. Contact Flexiway Solar solutions to see how we can bring light to your projects as well.
You might have seen a lot of changes on the FlexiWay Solar site recently: all pictures of our solar-powered LED lamp have been replaced by images of our new light which just has arrived: the Solar Muscle.
Our new solar-powered LED light: the new Solar Muscle
Flexiway Solar Solutions has improved their already unique affordable light, making it an even more lightweight & robust all-in-one solar light that is easy to use, weatherproof and hard to break, providing up to 8 hours of light per charge at full light-power, double at the 50% setting.
The new “Solar Muscle” is a unique light: it has 2 brightness settings and a new strong click-together system on all sides so you can join as many lights together as you like, producing as much light as you need.
Improved functionality in detail: what has changed?
We have listened to feedback from users all over the planet. They were extremely happy with the original solar-powered LED lamp from Flexiway, but thanks to their reports and new technology available, we have managed to create an even better, brighter, stronger yet even more affordable light. The light has been improved in several ways:
Of course the most important aspect of a lamp is its light! We use the newest generation bright white LED’s, producing 24 real lumens (12 lm on 50% setting), as tested and certified in a laboratory.
Each LED actually has a rating of 4-5 lumens, which would make it a total of 48-60 Lumens in theory. Unlike other companies that only mention these theoretical values, we are using real ones. Soon our light will undergo even more rigorous testing by the UN/WorldBank through Lighting Africa!
Square and thin!
Maybe the biggest improvement is its shape and size. Our old light was round and bulky and contained unused space inside. We reduced packing volume by nearly 40% by redesigning the light from scratch. As the solar-panel was rectangular (nearly square), we based the rest of the light around it, while keeping the important functionality of the first light.
Now the light is only 120 grams (4.2 Oz) and measures just 9x9x2.5cm (3.5×3.5×1 inch)!
It not only fits in your pocket now, but it also fits better in the square boxes we package them in.
Therefore we can now pack 40% more lights per cubic meter shipped (35ft3): nearly 3000 lights in total! This way we limit our own carbon footprint as well, as we can ship more lights in less space and our clients pay less shipping and storage costs.
Triple function button
We replaced the old 2 function slider button. It let dust and water in and limited the functionality. Our new 3-setting button is much more water resistant and offers 3 settings on our light, saving energy when needed (and allowing for a more discrete light, for example when reading in a room or tent where others sleep as well).
- Off, when the light is charging
- 50%, when you need light for reading or cannot charge for a long period
- 100%, when you need full brightness or when you can re-charge every day
More and better power
- Our new solar panel has twice the capacity, so even with less sun-power the batteries will charge.
- The new batteries we use are AAA size (they used to be AA size). This means they are smaller and lighter, while offering the same capacity (600 mAh each). Of course they are still regular size and easily replaceable: you can replace them when they loose their charging capability. They should last up top 500 charges, but we like to say that an annual battery change is required: when the battery lasts longer the customer is happy, instead of disappointed if it only last for 450 charges (it also depends on usage: 500+ charges would mean nearly 3 years when charging from empty to full, once every other day, see also our FAQ).
- We also switched to NiMH Low self-discharge batteries: they keep their charge for many months. This makes no difference for those who use and charge the light on a daily basis, but if you don’t use your light every day you can charge it and store it and take it out many months later when needed, and it will work. This makes the Solar Muscle a perfect emergency light (think power cuts, outdoor usage etc), but also means that NGO’s can order and pre-charge lights, so that they are ready to go whenever they are needed.
Click together and join the light!
A small but very useful addition is the connectors on the side of the lights. Now you can easily connect 2,3,4,6 or many more lights together in a line or a square.
Get a 6-pack of Solar Muscles for some real Solar Power!
It makes it easier to charge more lights at the same time. It is also very useful if you own more lights and need more light-power in one space.
Many of our users have only one light per room or even per family, but now they can come together for meetings or just for dinners, bring their light and click them together!
Stronger and more durable and weather proof!
Our light was already pretty robust, but we managed to make much more durable by making some more changes:
- Our light is now weather sealed with extra protection and has no problem with a rain shower if you forget to put it inside during bad weather. We will have our light officially tested, but the expected IP score (Ingress Protection) should now be 6/4, where the old score likely was 5/1. The first number is for the dustproofness (6 = maximum), the second number is for the waterproofness (8 = maximum).
- We used to have 4 tiny parts of plastic protruding from the side, with a little hole to attach the light to a wire. We replaced it with larger holes that are integrated in the casing, making it stronger and easier to attach!
- The entire case is now made of stronger plastic, so if the light is accidentally dropped (even on hard surfaces), it will survive. The LED’s are now inside the transparent case so they can no longer be damaged easily and they won’t let in any dust or water.
What did not change?
We made all these changes and managed to keep the most important aspect the same: the price.
As fuel & kerosene prices have gone up and up, the payback time for a regular family that replaces their kerosene lamp with our solar-powered Solar Muscle is often less than one month, paid back completely from kerosene savings, while the light should last several years (the batteries might need replacing after 1 year or more).
See the video below for a 2 minute explanation about the benefits Solar-powered lights bring to developing societies. The pictures at the bottom of this page link to the details of each of these benefits.
- 1 Alleviate poverty Reduce poverty by saving 25% of household costs!
- 2 Health benefits removing toxic and dangerous kerosene from households
- 3 Prevent fire hazards Kerosene lamps are leading cause of house fires
- 4 Enabling education Students can study better & longer, more money for books
- 5 Save our planet Stop global warming, deforestation and pollution
- 6 Increase income Light at night can create additional income streams
- 7 Empowering women LED lights create a brighter future for women and girls
- 8 Empower communities Light generates joint income, offers new possibilities
- 9 Increase safety bringing light in houses and community
- 10 Solar education Teach students and entrepreneurs about solar