BioLite is bringing solar power and light to remote regions of Kenya

BioLite has always been on a mission to provide affordable and efficient sources of power for use anywhere. Case in point: 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 travelers 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 remote cabins and those living the #vanlife too.

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 light and power to remote corners of Kenya, a place where those resources are often at a premium. As you’ll see in the video above, the installation takes just a few minutes and can transform the lives of the people living in Africa immeasurably. Not only does it provide energy for lights, but it also stores power to recharge a cell phone and power a radio.

biolite solarhome kenya 620 2

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 center 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 center 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, which are priced at $150. More are expected to become available in February.

Smart Home

The C By GE Smart LED Bulbs Work Seamlessly With Google Home

The Smart Light Starter Kit contains a smart lightbulb and a Google Home Mini. For those seeking to try out smart lights in their home, it's a great option and is currently on sale for just $35 through Google.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Product Review

The Nuimo Click’s self-powering control convenience is cool but costly

Smart home devices might be clever, but needing your phone to use them is not. Senic’s Nuimo Click is the set of physical buttons that your smart devices are missing. But these smart, self-powered buttons aren’t cheap.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Deals

REI slashed the price of the Garmin Fenix 5, but the sale ends today

The Garmin Fenix 5 is a multisport fitness watch, built almost entirely for use with just about any indoor or outdoor activity you can think of. From now until the end of the day on December 1, you can save $150 on a brand new model.
Outdoors

Columbia’s latest Star Wars jacket will keep you as warm as a Wookiee

Columbia Sportswear introduced a limited edition parka based on the jackets that were worn by the crew that filmed The Empire Strikes Back in 1979 that are sure to be a coveted item for Star Wars fans.
Outdoors

Onak 2.0 is an origami-inspired folding canoe for waterborne adventures

The Onak 2.0 is an origami-inspired folding kayak that measures 15 feet in length when fully assembled, yet can breakdown and be stored in a small, easily transported box making it a great option for apartment dwellers.
Outdoors

The best sleeping bags to help you conquer the cold, no matter what season it is

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Outdoors

Lime’s dockless electric bikes land in London, but its scooters aren’t allowed

Lime has landed in London with its dockless bikesharing service. The pedal-assisted electric bikes are unlocked via Lime's app and can reach speeds of 15 mph. It plans to have 1,000 bikes on the streets before the end of the year.
Outdoors

Forget pumps. This innovative filter purifies H2O in 8 seconds flat

The Grayl Geopress water purification system removes more than 99 percent of all bacteria, cysts, and viruses from water in just eight seconds, providing clean drinking water to travelers and outdoor adventurers.
Outdoors

Built to take a beating and still perform, these are the best hiking watches

A proper hiking watch should track exercise metrics and act as a navigational co-pilot during any kind of hike. Ideally, it'll even have a built-in GPS system and sensors. Here are five of the best hiking watches.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Outdoors

Conquer the cold season with the best heated clothing and outdoor apparel

If you're thinking about going outside this winter, heated apparel is a must. Luckily, we've rounded up some of the best heated clothing, whether you're looking for battery-powered gloves or heated insoles.