The io™ system provides a new way to make solar power more affordable for rural, off-grid households in Sub-Saharan Africa. Users start by making a small investment in a basic io™ solar power module, and then scale-up the size of their system adding power and functionality at their own pace.
Each io™ module is a fully-functioning mini solar power system in its own right. However once several are daisy-chained together, they synergise to create a full-size system able to power much larger appliances such as bright security lights, radios, loudspeaker systems, and eventually fridges and TVs.
The main product is the io™ Battery 100 set comprising a 3.5W solar panel, a solar charge controller, a 10W.h LiFePO4 battery and two LED ceiling lights with wall switches. The ceiling lights each provide 80 lumens of light, and will last 5 hours each on a full day’s solar charge (or 10 hours if only one is used). The solar charge controller implements all the most advanced technical features to maximise efficiency and product life expectancy. The output voltage is 12V DC, and is designed to accommodate any off-the-shelf appliance that could be plugged into a typical 12V DC electrical system.
Frugal engineering design has minimised production cost to the extent that each io™ module can be bought at the same price as comparable solar lanterns. This allows households to buy each module outright, avoiding microfinancing or pay-as-you-go structures. An analysis based on World Bank data from 2011 estimates that 81% of rural (off-grid) households in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to any financing services. The product targets these 93 million underserved households because the system can be purchased on a modular basis according to a household budget.
The innovation can be disseminated through existing distribution networks which will provide employment to many local retailers and last-mile distributors.
Local partners will handle distribution and allow the company to scale up gradually. These do not need a complex support network, and the product can therefore be rolled-out through more traditional distribution networks in a rapidly scalable manner. In turn the distribution networks will provide employment to many local retailers and last-mile distributors.
Production costs are set at 17.45 USD with a sales price set at 26.95 USD.
io solar power in action