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Problem

Rural communities in Africa, South America, and other parts of the world have limited access to conventional power; portable generator carts, the common alternative, are expensive to acquire and operate (some pay as much as $40 per kilowatt hour). The lack of accessible power has however not hindered the growth of mobile phone users. A country like Ghana for example has about 88% of its population being active mobile phone users whereas just about 20% of its rural population have direct access to electricity. With northern and southern parts of Africa being an exception, much of the continent experiences about 8 - 10 sunshine hours per day, which makes it good ground for harvesting solar energy.

Customer


HCJB Global, a non-denominational, non-profit, evangelical missionary organization proposed a design competition amongst Christian colleges to develop a solar-powered community lamppost with portable device charging capabilities. This model would imply a proprietor for the lamppost who would maintain the security of the charging devices, a feature that should be of interest to the “Business as Missions” and micro-business communities. The lamppost would allow for devices to be recharged day or night and enough power generated to provide light at night.

Solution


The solution to this problem is a solar-powered lamppost that is able to provide light at night for the people of these communities, and fitted with USB charging ports to enable charging of mobile phones. The system will consist of a 50-Watt solar panel mounted on a 18 - 21 foot Schedule-40 galvanized steel pole, with an 8-Watt LED bulb serving as the source of light. Power from the solar panels would be stored in two separate AGM Lead-Acid batteries - one to provide power for the light and the other to power the charging ports. The block diagram below shows an overview of the system architecture:

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General Facts

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Electrical System

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Mechanical Structure

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