One of the main reasons for me coming on this trip was to study the solar powered apartments that had been set-up here. Kananga has very poor electrical power, usually only a few hours a day. As a result, the mission decided to try using solar power to give our missionaries light and power. Kananga has a solar power business in town, so it was a good place to begin.
The purpose was simply to give them some light at night to study (since they are out all day working), and power to recharge their phones and other minimal electronics, also used for study. Two apartments were set-up, and I was to see what was done, how it was working, and whether or not it was viable to start in other places in the mission with the same problem.
the set-up: a wire comes down from the roof panel, through a meter that read whether it is charging, and down into a 12 volt battery. Then from the battery, a wire runs up through a converter (that converts the 12 volt into 12o volt), and then runs to lights, switches, and plugs.
So, now the prognosis: I think they work great. We had an issue between the two apartments: one was running about 45 min a night, the other was running about 4 hours a night… and I couldn’t figure out why the difference– so I had the men who installed it come out to check the installation.
The problem came with what was being used for lights. In one apartment, for some reason, the entire system was set-up to run on 120 power– so all 12 volt power being created by the solar panel was being converted, and used, as 120 power, both lights and plugs. This lasted about 45 min a night. The other system had 12 volt lights, and 120 plugs…in other words, a double, or split system… and this one lasted 4 hours a night. So I had them change the first apartment to 12 volt lights!
According to the missionaries, the systems work great. They have enough light/time to do their studying at night, and enough power in the plugs to charge their phones, cd recorders, etc. Keeping in mind that they do also have SOME electricity they can also use when it is on.
We are renting these apartments, and when/if we leave or move, we can take all of this equipment and install it in another apartment very easily. It is also easy to add-on to this system by simply adding more panels, and more batteries, to give additional time, or expand how many appliances can be used.
I know that we will continue to expand the use of this marvelous technology to other areas of the mission to aid our missionaries in their work. I was impressed by how well it works, and how simple it is to install and maintain. Time will tell how long they will keep working, but one has been working for over six months already with no problems.