There's a widespread informal energy market in Africa. Electricity sockets can be difficult to find and people walk (sometimes far distances) to charge their cellphones with diesel generators. San Francisco-based company Fenix International developed the ReadySet Solar Kit three years ago to help solve Africans' energy problems -- and now they're trying to bring it to the U.S. by using a campaign.
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"The Fenix ReadySet is an intelligent battery system that can be charged from solar, electric grid, and even a bicycle generator to charge mobile phones, tablets, WiFi hotspots and other devices," the company says.
It's a valuable technology for rural areas of Africa, but CEO Mike Lin sees a need for it in the U.S., too.
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As Lin told Mashable, there are many Americans who cannot access solar power because of where they live. Apartment renters typically can't install solar panels on the roofs of their buildings, and neither can college students if they live in dorms.
But users of the ReadySet can hang the panel out the window and collect a charge.
Lin says the ReadySet was designed for the developing world, but there are many uses for it in the developed world. Power your iPhone, iPad or Android devices -- or any number of other household items that run on electricity. The video shows the ReadySet powering a fan, a small latern and a speaker. With its two USB ports and two car lighter ports, the ReadySet is also a smart purchase for avid campers.
Each kit comes with:
- A ReadySet battery
- 15 Watt Solar Panel with rugged aluminum frame
- Power Adapter for grid charging
- 3 Watt LED light with socket, cable and switch
- USB Universal battery charger for charging any 3.7-volt Lithium battery
- Instruction Manual
The ReadySet can power approximately 10 phones on a full charge, or more than 12 hours of continuous video playback on your iPad. It can fully charge from the included 15 W solar panel in six to eight hours of sun.
If you need more power, you can add a second or third panel just by plugging it in (the ReadySet's software handles all the settings and configuration). If you're lacking sunshine, you can charge the ReadySet from a normal wall outlet using the included 23W grid charger.
Lin and COO Brian Warshawsky were formerly Apple employees. They set out to create not only a sustainable business, but a sustainable product.
The team raised more than $40,000 in the first 48 hours of its campaign, surpassing its $20,000 goal. Currently, the project has brought in more than $66,000 of funding with 21 days to go.
Kickstarter campaigns often offer a price break for early adopters. Right now the ReadySet is listed at $225, but Lin says it will likely retail for $300. Compared to other portable chargers such as the ($69-$79), which is not solar, and the ($16) which is a DIY kit harnessing solar power, the ReadySet is a bit pricey.
Logitech also offer a number of gadgets to power your Apple devices , which retail for $80 and up -- although they won't power fans and lights.
Recently, Lin and his team returned from a trip to East Africa where they forged a partnership with MTN, Africa's largest mobile network operator, to sell the kits for $150 through the provider. Lin said the entrepreneurs who buy these chargers from MTN make the money back in about two months, and the provider will earn about 10 to 14% more revenue from having customers who use their phones more often because those devices are charged.
The average American earns . In Uganda, where the company often deals, the was $511.90, according to the United Nations.
There, the price of ReadySet is $150 -- about 30% of the average yearly income per individual.
The team debated whether or not to charge for the ReadySet Solar Kits in Africa, but feared it wouldn't be a sustainable business model if they didn't. If they offer a free product now, customers will always expect that, he said. Here's how he put it: If you got a free car, you wouldn't treat it as well as a car you purchased.
Lin says the sales from the U.S. will support Fenix so they can do more in Africa. "We saw a great opportunity having worked with Apple, and we wanted to take our skills and apply it to something that would have a greater benefit to the world," Lin said.
In Africa, in many area. The basic cellphone provides necessary communication in rural areas, in particular. A pregnant woman might need to call a doctor; a business owner might need to find out the price of his goods in the neighboring village.
designs renewable energy products for entrepreneurs in Africa. The company's goal is to create products that deliver energy to the 1.5 billion people in the world who lack access to electricity.
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This story originally published on Mashable .
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