Cameroon’s First Solar Panels

At Himalayan Institute Cameroon, power outages are so frequent that a back-up generator is necessary to keep the lights and computers on in the library and health center and the equipment running in the vocational school. To keep the generator battery charged, a staff member must run the generator 15 minutes each week. This wastes fuel, costs money (fuel is quite expensive) and creates air pollution (the generator makes smoke when it is being used to charge the batteries as it is not run to full capacity). If the staff forgets to run the generator, the batteries run down and became too weak to start the generator when it is needed most.

Project Requirements:

1. Weatherproof solar panel installation
2. Simple and maintenance-free operation
3. Trained staff to maintain and troubleshoot the finished setup

Project Solution:

1. Install two 5-watt solar panels on the roof of the building that houses the generator.
2. Connect charge controllers between the solar panels and batteries to prevent the batteries from becoming overcharged.

Green Results:

The sun, a renewable resource, shines on the solar panels during the day, which converts the sunlight into electricity that then flows through wires to a device called the charge controller. (This device acts like a water faucet for electricity.)  When the charge in the batteries gets low, the controller allows the electricity from the solar panels to flow into the batteries. When the batteries are full, the charge controller turns the current flow off to prevent the batteries from being overcharged. This device allows the whole setup to run automatically and mostly unattended. It has the capacity to alert staff if there is something wrong with the solar setup via blinking lights!