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.
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.
- The BioLite SunLight is a solar-powered lantern for your campsite
- Take Crush Light, a collapsible and affordable solar lantern, on any adventure
- Charge your devices simply by plugging them into your Radius backpack
- Genetically engineered algae could bring off-grid solar power to rural Africa
- Nissan’s stylish street lamp puts old EV batteries back to work