Over the past year we have worked with the Ketakor community and project leaders resulting in many improvements to the system, meanwhile cutting system costs by more than half. We will continue to make improvements and hopefully reduce cost even further. Here’s how we are improving the system while dramatically lowering the cost:
Solar cells: Until recently, we were supplying the community of Ketakor with full size, factory seconds solar cells that were cut on site into the proper size cells for our Boko Bed Net and Cell Phone Charger solar panels. The cutting of the cells to make smaller ones resulted in up to 25% breakage and waste. We are now getting the cells pre-cut to the proper sizes reducing the breakage waste to about 5%. We have reduced the cost of the cells by 10% and eliminated the timely process of having to cut them.
Batteries: We were pleasantly surprised to find deep cycle batteries are readily available in Ghana. We are now able to source 32-50 Amp/hr deep cycle batteries. The cost of this much improved deep cycle battery is about the same as a regular cycle motorbike battery. To learn more about the differences between regular and deep cycle batteries go to: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question219.htm.
Lighting: One of the biggest improvements in our Boko Bed Net System is in the lighting design. Initially, we used 12v DC fluorescent flood lights. We are now sourcing rolled 12v LED light strips that cut to size and glued onto pieces of PVC piping. These new lights produce more light, are waterproof and more versatile, last longer (>25 years), use less energy, and are 1/5 the price of the flood lights.
Fans for inside the nets: We continue our search for the best combination of power, efficiency and quietness for the muffins fans being installed inside the mosquito nets. We have been able to find a muffin fan that circulates more air, uses less energy, and is quieter, and cost 20 % less than our previous fans. The goal is to utilize fans that have noise levels less than 30 decibels, which is ideal for sleeping. We are currently at 35 decibels, within an acceptable range for hospital patient rooms. We will get there!
Cell phone charger attachments: We are now making the cell phone chargers with universal 12v car cigarette lighter (female) plugs instead of hardwiring a cell phone power cord to the cell phone charger solar panels. The result is much greater versatility in the applications for the solar panel including charging capabilities for a variety of cell phone models, IPhones, and rechargeable batteries.