A Reference Guide for Users
John Maina and Peter Gichohi
Sustainabel Community Development Services (SCODE)
P. O. Box 13177
Practical Action - Eastern Africa
P.O. Box 39493 - 00623
The Publication of this manual has been made possible by funding form the following
The Department for International Development
The Ashden Trust
ISBN: 9966 931 12 0
This document was originally published by the Intermediate Technology Development Group – East
Africa, now Practical Action East Africa.
© SCODE and Practical Action, East Africa, April 2002
Design and illustrations by Wep Impressions
A Reference Guide for Users
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I: SOLAR ENERGY PRODUCTION
Solar energy kit.
Solar energy electric cycle
Benefits and disadvantages of solar energy
PART II: LOOKING AFTER THE SOLAR ENERGY
How to save solar power
PART I: PROJECT EXPERIENCES
Working with community groups
Project set up
Group's financial status
Procurement of equipment..
Installation of the solar electric system
Training of users
Monitoring & evaluation
PART II: PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
PART III: LESSONS LEARNED
The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the participants of the
workshop, held at SCODE offices in October 2000, who reviewed and collected further
information on the first draft of the manual.
The manual could not have been produced without support and commitment from the
Betty Rabar (Practical Action East Africa -ITDG EA) for leading the editorial
Lydia Muchiri (Practical Action East Africa - ITDG EA) for proofreading and
coordinating the work leading to this publication
Anne Kavoi Mwangi for writing up the case studies
Wanjiru Mwangi for editing of the manual
Wep Impressions for design and illustrations of the manual
Stephen Gitonga (Practical Action East Africa - ITDG EA) for sharing his
experiences and advice on the first draft
Duncan Muchiri (SCODE solar technician) for correcting technical errors and
omissions in the first draft
ITDG-EA for according institutional and financial support
Many thanks to the East Africa Energy Technology Development Network (EAETDN)
project donors, DflD CSCF, the Ashden Trust and the European Union for their
support. The EAETDN is instrumental in the distribution of the manual to its
membership in East Africa.
Finally, thanks to UNDP - GEF
The only source of energy for many rural communities, besides diesel power and grid
electricity has been kerosene, candles, dry-cell batteries and centrally recharged leadacid batteries. Therefore, there is a constant demand for power to light small
Solar energy technology has played a significant role in filling up this gap. The
technology is appropriate for use in the rural areas where there is no conventional
electrical power or the supply is erratic. Studies have shown that where energy
requirements are below 500-watt hours per day, solar electricity is often the most
economical source of electric power. In addition, low voltage solar energy is relatively
simple and can be adapted to the needs of individual applications such as electric
calculators, small radios, television, lights or electric pumps.
Solar electric systems can easily be expanded by adding more modules and batteries.
The technology is environmentally friendly because it does not cause global warming
or destroy the ozone layer. Solar devices have long life spans since they have no
movable parts that wear out and maintenance is low since no fuel is used.