SUN POWER: It is powered by the sun and gives the light of five candles. The new South African invention burns for seven hours and saves thousands of rand in the cost of candles for households without electricity. Picture: NIGHTLIGHT

Cape Town - South African inventor Ken Hall has developed a “solar candle” that could save a consumer about R15 000 in the cost of candles in four years.

Charged by the sun once a day, over a year the solar candle gives the equivalent light of 1 825 candles. The light also saves on carbon emissions. For every 1 000 candles replaced with the solar candle, 25 tons of climate-changing carbon dioxide could be saved from being pumped into the atmosphere.

It was “an African product for African conditions” that could help reduce CO2 emissions “on an unprecedented scale”, Hall said.

Used to replace paraffin lamps and candles in homes in informal settlements, it could help reduce the many fires caused by open-flame lighting. It was these fires that spurred Hall to develop the solar candle.

The invention has caught the attention of World Bank-backed non-profit organisation Lighting Africa, which seeks to provide modern off-grid lighting in sub-Saharan Africa. The candle would be distributed throughout the continent by aid organisations, Hall said.

To charge the light, it is turned upside down and left in the sun. It can be charged even in cloudy weather. Hall said even if stored for six months the solar candle would retain 90 percent of its charge.

It has lithium batteries, and when fully charged will shine for seven hours. It uses Light Emitting Diodes which have a 12 000 to 15 000-hour lifespan. The candle is sold direct to the public to keep the price down. - Cape Times

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