Category Archives: PRODUCTS

Solar Lighting is changing lives in Rural India

Approximately 500 million people in India’s countryside still have no access to electricity. The government’s ambitious plan to electrify the entire nation by 2012 is based, in large part, on providing rural homes (particularly some 25,000 of the remotest villages) with decentralized renewable energy systems.

New Delhi, June 29, 2011 – Depending on the size, a Solar Home Lighting System can operate one or several lights. Normally a Solar Home Lighting System will have a 12-volt direct-current (DC) stand-alone system which uses PV to electrify small rural homes. Each SHS comes along with a PV module (also called Panel), a battery, a charge controller, wiring, fluorescent CFL lights, and outlets for other appliances. A typical design component is shown below:


Solar modules for an Solar Home Lighting System would range between 20-50 Wp. They are mounted on a rooftop or atop a pole. The technology of this could be either crystalline or thin-film technology12 (also called amorphous).

An electro-chemical storage battery is used to store the electricity converted by the solar module. During the day, electricity from the module charges the storage battery. During the evening, the battery is discharged to power the lights and other applications. Batteries are typically the 12-volt lead-acid batteries, ranging in capacity from 5-75 Amp-Hours (Ah). Batteries are typically sized to provide several days of electricity or ‘autonomy’, in the event of overcast weather preventing recharging.

Charge controller
A charge controller is utilized to control the flow of electricity between the module, the battery and the loads. It prevents battery damage by ensuring that the battery is operating within its normal charge levels. If the charge level in the battery falls below a certain level, a ‘low voltage disconnect’ (LVD) will cut the current to the loads, to prevent further discharge. Likewise, it will also cut the current from the module in case of overcharging. Of course, some systems do not have this facility. Those which do not have the automatic charge controller would use indicator lights on the controller to display the relative state of charge of the battery. This is seen in most of the models available in the market. This device is important as once overused, it takes a long time for the battery to get charged. In rural areas, where literacy levels are relatively lower, the presence of this device built into the system help prevent overuse of the battery, thereby increasing the life of the system.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, fluorescent tube (off late) are used for lighting. A Solar Home Lighting System normally would have anything between two-light systems to a four-light system. A 9 watt CFL provides illumination equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent bulb. These compact fluorescent lights have a 5-year lifetime.

Wiring & Mounting devices
A Solar Home Lighting System will also have additional materials for mounting and connections. Metal frames are included to attach the PV Modules to a pole or roof. The SHS components are connected by wires and contain switches for the lights. In some cases, wiring is housed inside conduits attached to interior walls.

Headway Solar is a Solar Energy company based in India. It provides a complete range of solar products and offer customized solar solutions. It is pioneering Solar Energy Solutions in India and provide a complete range of Solar Energy Products and customized solar solutions for enterprises, institutions and personal use.

Solar Home Lighting Systems launched by Headway Solar are different from any similar products available in the market. The products have been designed using software simulation and are based completely on Plug-and-Use model. They do not require an expert to install or repair. All the wiring and equipment provided are pre-fitted with interlocking sockets and optimum wire lengths to make the installation and use as simple as it can get.

Headway Solar is looking to set up a distribution network for its range of Solar Home Lighting Products. Distributors with strong rural market in their respective districts can contact Headway Solar to establish a business relation that can bring light to the masses of India.

For more information please visit:

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Solar Cell Breaks Efficiency Record

24 June 2011—A photovoltaic cell that reaches record-breaking efficiency could make solar energy competitive with fossil fuels, says the company that created the cell.

Alta Devices, a start-up in Santa Clara, Calif., presented research at the 37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialist Conference, in Seattle, this week that claims its thin-film gallium-arsenide cell can convert 27.6 percent of the sunlight striking the cell into electricity, under standardized conditions. Since the paper was submitted, the company says it has upped the efficiency to 28.2 percent. That beats the previous record of 26.4 percent for a solar cell with a single p-n junction, which was the first improvement in years over 26.1 percent. Both numbers, according to Alta, were independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The efficiency was measured on a laboratory-made solar cell. Efficiency tends to decrease once the cells are packaged into usable modules. “We assume we will ultimately be able to achieve modules that are around 26 percent, and that’s plenty to be competitive with fossil fuels,” says Christopher Norris, CEO of Alta.

The key to achieving the record was photon recycling. When the photons in sunlight are absorbed in a photovoltaic material, they split into an electron and a hole. The electrons that pass out of the cell can be used as electricity, but many of them are lost in the semiconductor when they recombine with a hole to produce either waste heat or a new photon. By carefully growing a high-quality single crystal of gallium arsenide, the company managed to ensure that more than 99 percent of the recombinations would result in new photons. Those photons could then create a new electron-hole pair and give the electron another chance to be captured as electricity. The Alta team also improved the reflectivity of the metal contacts on the back of the solar cell, so that any photons that exited the cell would be sent back in for possible reabsorption.

The theoretical maximum conversion efficiency for a solar cell with a single junction is 33.5 percent. “We can see a path to 30 percent with our same design right now,” says Norris. Adding a second junction could also increase the energy output.

The more efficient a solar cell is, the faster it pays back the cost of manufacturing and installing it. But efficiency and cost have been at odds with each other in solar cell design. Gallium arsenide is naturally better at converting light to electricity than the chief contenders, such as silicon and cadmium telluride, but it tends to be more expensive.

The most efficient materials are single-crystalline semiconductors, but those are usually pricier. Low-cost materials, such as amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium gallium selenide, are less efficient; CdTe cells are around 12 percent efficient. Alta solves this problem by using only a small amount of a high-quality material—a thin film of gallium arsenide about 1 micrometer thick.

“That is the whole trick. Don’t use much gallium and don’t use much arsenic,” Norris says. He says an Alta module should cost about the same per watt as a CdTe module but produce three times the energy.

The company cut down on the material cost by using a process called epitaxial liftoff, developed by Eli Yablonovitch, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a cofounder of Alta. Technicians start with a GaAs wafer as a seed layer and grow a thin-film photovoltaic device structure on top of that. They peel off the thin film, attach it to a metal backing, and finish processing it into a solar cell. The process leaves the original wafer, which they can reuse for the next batch of solar cells.

Alta is working on a pilot production line to produce samples of its solar cells sometime this year and expects to have early commercial shipments by late next year, Norris says. The company has raised US $72 million to develop its production process.

About the Author

Neil Savage writes about strange semiconductors and amazing optoelectronics from Lowell, Mass. In June 2011 he reported on the creation of the first graphene integrated circuit.


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10 Strange Solar Powered Gadgets

Solar powered gadgets are everywhere now, and the ways solar power is incorporated into gizmos is fun to follow. Oh sure we’ve seen the double-take items like solar bras, and the cooler devices like cell phones. But so many are just down right strange. We’ve gathered up a handful of the odder solar powered devices that have made their way on to the scene. Click through to check them out.

solar desk gadget photo
Photo via 724deal

Starting with the silly, here is a desktop gadget that it meant entirely to entertain. The little head and body bobble back and forth, thanks to the tiny solar panel on the base. The point? Perhaps it’s just the very last life line to cling to if you’re dying of boredom.
solar bonzai tree photo
Photo via Toys and Gadgets

This one is certainly strange, though actually serves a purpose. You can build your own bonsai tree with branches sporting various solar panels. The panels charge up a battery that you can connect your gadgets to. The battery, gadgets, and wires can all be stored inside the base, er, pot. It will lend a very sci-fi look to any home, and if you get bored with the look, just rearrange the branches. It’s one house plant you’ll have a hard time killing, but works just as hard converting sunlight to energy as its greener neighbors.

solar toy spider photo
Photo via Select Solar

This…is a spider. We know it’s so because that’s what the company says it is…and that’s about the only way we’d guess it to be a spider. It does kind of resemble those little jumping spiders that hop on you when you’re laying in the grass at a picnic. Kind of. At any rate, it’s a 21-piece DIY kit that you, or anyone over the age of 8, can put together. If you’re itching to have it, most of the solar powered plasticrap stores sell it.
Photo via Technabob

What solar toy collection is complete without a solar powered rope-climbing monkey?! There’s nothing quite like slapping a solar cell on a piece of plasticrap and calling it educational. This little guy is intended to help kids “appreciate the power of alternative energy.” More likely, they’ll put it together, watch it climb the rope a few times and then it’ll end up at the bottom of the toy chest. If a parent really wants to make a toy educational, they’d grab one that is already at the bottom of the toy chest and teach their kids a cool hack, powering it with solar cells ripped off of the neighbor kid’s solar powered toy monkey that got used twice and tossed aside.
aurora odysseus flier photo
Photo via Gizmag

This is the Odysseus from Aurora. It is basically a low-flying satellite. It can fly in sustained uninterrupted flight for over five years, hanging around altitudes between 60,000-90,000 feet. And, it’s solar powered. It’s a concept device created by Aurora for military use, intended for surveillance and reconnaissance, communications relay and environmental monitoring. Useful, but still definitely a stranger bit of flying solar powered technology than we’re used to.

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solar tire gauge image Photo via Chinavasion

It’s not too often you think about your tire gauge. Tire pressure, yes; tire gauge, no. Especially the power source for your gauge. In fact, it’s easy to find one that doesn’t require a power source at all. But if you’re concerned that you have to have a digital tire gauge and it has to be reliably powered, well by golly there’s a solar powered one out there for you. So if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and you just have to check your tire pressure, have no fear…the solar cells on your trusty tire gauge won’t let you down.
solar  powered plant pot photo
Photo via Pocket Lint

If you’re looking for a way to line your walkway other than using solar luminaries, this could be a solution. But it looks a little too similar to a radioactive waste bin. We haven’t seen a yard-bound solar gadget light up quite like this, and in fact, one version will glow in an array of colors. The solar cell is on a spike that you set elsewhere, and a wire runs back to the battery in the pot. The makers say you can get as much as 8 hours of glow time in the summer, and as much as 4 in the winter.
solar parked car ventilator image
Photo via Sunshine Solar

If you don’t want to return to a hot stuffy car, you could try out this solar powered ventilator. Somehow, with the window closed, it manages to clip on to your window and circulate fresh air into the car. Riiight. We’re guessing it actually just clips to your car window and whirrs away, pushing air around the car…nothing special, especially since the price tag is a relatively cheap $38. You might be better off sparing the plastic and just opening you car door and fanning your arms over the driver’s seat a few times before hopping in.

solar visor fan photo
Photo via

If you want to look strange while walking around with a strange solar gadget, stick this one on the brim of your hat and consider yourself a success. The hefty-looking solar powered fan clips on to your visor and blows air directly into your face. Makes sense for a really hot day, but it might be a little less dorky to use a hand-held solar powered fan. Or, how about just…a fan.
weird solar bug photo
Photo via Dvice

This little “Bugbut” named Nigel takes the cake for strange. Basically it’s a bunch of gadget pieces duct tapped together and powered by a solar cell. It climbs slowly around your desk, creeping out anyone who passes by. You can get one from Jenny, a.k.a. Tinyminds at Etsy. Definitely. Strange. Just keep it and the solar bug zapper a good distance apart.

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Pune entrepreneur’s solar cap to keep you cool

This unusual cap uses the sun’s scorching heat to keep you cool. Improvising on a Chinese design, Pune-based entrepreneur Vivek Bhatia has successfully manufactured a solar energy-powered mini fan, which actually provides comfort on a hot day.

The fan with plastic blades is fitted on the cap’s bill. A miniature solar panel, fixed on the crown, generates a five-volt supply to power the fan as soon as one steps out into the sun.

Bhatia who created the fan this April said that although similar solar fan caps are made by some Chinese manufacturers, his device has a solar panel that covers a larger area and thus generates more power for a better fan.

“The blades are made of plastic and are completely safe for the person wearing it. We have added a tiny switch that can be used to turn the fan on or off,” he said.

A materials manager with various firms for nearly three decades, the fact that Bhatia has sold nearly 1,000 of his ‘Solar fan caps’ at Rs400 each suggests that it’s more than a novelty.

According to the innovator, the fan generates enough air to keep one’s face and forehead cool when out in the sun.

“Since there is no question of batteries, the fan doesn’t need any charging. The cap is functional even on partly cloudy days. We’ve been receiving a lot of orders from humid cities like Kolkata where we’ve created an entire customer base out of word-of-mouth publicity,” he said.

Bhatia first got into product development with ‘No Nap’, an anti-drowsiness device meant to prevent accidents caused by sleepy drivers.

His fledgling firm Fuel Saver India, based in Sanewadi in Aundh, is dedicated to creating gadgets that run on renewable energy, mainly solar energy. He is assisted by his wife in packaging, dispatching and following up orders.

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Coca cola’s ‘eKOCool’ will revamp sales in Indian rural market

Coca Cola

Coca Cola India has come up this summer with a new innovation as to increase its sales and presence in rural areas. The company has launched an eco friendly ‘eKOCool’, a chest cooler, developed internally by the Indian arm of the Atlanta based multinational, operates exclusively through solar energy, with no other electricity source required to operate it.

It has a capacity to store two crates, which contains 48 glass bottles of 300ml each. It can even charge mobile phone and light up homes. This innovation will provide the company with first mover advantage to ramp up its sale and solve the problem faced by major shopkeepers in rural as to sell chilled soft drinks in hot summers as there is no electricity facility available.

The product loaded into the cooler early morning or previous night is ready to be served chilled in the morning. The cooling equipment brings benefits to the retailer too in terms of saving on the electricity bill and cost of ice.

A pilot project under which 20 such coolers were placed in rural areas near Agra (UP) has been successfully completed this summer. Sales from these outlets have jumped nearly five times, a company official said.

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A Solar Handbag That Charges Devices

DIFFUS, the Danish design studio has launched a solar purse that enables people to charge electronic devices while on the go.

The chic Solar Handbag features 100 small silicon solar cells that are seamlessly woven into its conductive embroidery. The solar cells on the bag’s surface collect sunlight & generate 2 watts of energy that’s stored on a lithium-ion battery.

The solar power is used not just to charge electronic  devices, but also to activate optical fibers located inside of this hand bag.

The optical fibers come on automatically when you open the bag, rendering it easy to search things inside the handbag.

The luxury solar handbag is to retail soon.

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Solar Solution: Solar assisted AC in India

Air conditioning in India has not been common due to the extreme demand that it puts on a notoriously unreliable electrical infrastructure. But when you think about when air-conditioners (AC) would be most used in tropical countries like India, it coincides with the time when the sun is blazing its heat in the peak afternoon. Dr Upendra Kamdar, founder of Suryashakti Systems came up with air conditioning unit that is powered in part by direct solar heat. Because units often have to fit into limited space, the systems are small because solar PV panels and batteries are not needed.

The patented hybrid system works by using solar thermal energy to further expand the refrigerant coming out of the compressor, thus reducing the compressor load and saving electricity consumed by the system. Heat is absorbed from the atmosphere and also from hot air exiting from the air conditioning system, which is usually discarded as waste heat. As there are heat storage facilities available in the system, it works during night time as well and provides 48 to 72 hours back-up during cloudy days.  The system can be effective in saving electricity consumption by up to 50% when compared to conventional air-conditioners.

Solar air conditioner schematic diagram

Mr. Dinesh Kumar Shah, the owner of Vijay Stores, a World Magazine Subscription Agency from Gujarat, India, uses a hybrid solar air conditioner.  The solar assisted AC units have been installed there for the past 1.5 years and have resulted in drastic reduction of the electricity bill. Mr Dinesh chose the hybrid systems because he runs air conditioning for 8 to 9 hours a  day, and he was confident that he’d save 50% of his electrical use. He said with the new solar AC units he’s currently saving more than Rs 30,000 (Rs 15,000 per unit) per year. A price comparison of a 1 ton AC unit shows that the solar assisted AC from Suryashakti Systems costs around Rs 18-20 thousand (~60%) more than conventional units and the resulting savings as seen by Mr. Dinesh would mean a payback period of 1.3 years. The Indian Income tax law allows an 80% accelerated depreciation in the first year for solar systems and this makes it an even more attractive proposition.

When asked about the installation and maintenance requirements, Mr. Dinesh said that installation is similar to the normal AC unit. “The system is running smoothly and is in fact much less noisy,” he added. This system has also been installed in the offices of Indian Railways.

The latest development that this company is working on now is what Mr Kamdar describes as “100% solar ductable central AC system using solar thermal system and solar chiller”. This system can cool without the use of harmful refrigerants and also provide hot water for other purposes, resulting in a 99% reduction electrical energy use compared to conventional duct base AC. The system will be commercialised after he secures funding.

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DuPont Apollo to Supply Solar Modules for Wipro in India

DuPont Apollo Limited announced that it has entered a strategic supply agreement with Wipro EcoEnergy, the cleantech arm of Wipro Limited, to supply high-performance, silicon-based, thin-film, tandem photovoltaic (PV) modules for Wipro EcoEnergy’s upcoming grid-based solar power projects in India.

Under the terms of this supply agreement, DuPont Apollo will provide Wipro EcoEnergy, which builds utility-scale, megawatt, solar PV power plants, with thin-film PV modules. The first phase of the supply agreement will be completed by the first quarter of 2012.

This agreement comes at a time when the solar industry has witnessed dramatic growth in India with the announcement of grid-based incentives for grid-connected solar plants and PV is considered a preferable choice to accommodate the widely dispersed and growing electricity consumption needs of the country. In January 2010 India’s National Solar Mission was launched to achieve the government’s target of generating 22 gigawatts (GW)—20GW on-grid, 2GW off-grid—of solar power by 2022.

DuPont Apollo thin-film PV modules are internationally recognised with the product certifications of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61646, IEC 61730, China General Certification Center (CGC) Golden Sun Certificate and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 1703. All products are manufactured in an International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 9001, Intertek’s QC 080000 and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified facility.

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D.Light Launches An Ultra-Cheap Solar Lantern

Have you ever tried studying in the dark? How about studying in the midst of noxious fumes? It’s not the best educational environment.


A few years back, D.Light, a startup that began as a Stanford design school project, announced that it had created the world’s cheapest solar lantern. For you, with your electric lights, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. For everyone who relies on kerosene (and all of its associated fumes) for lighting, it’s a life-changer. It’s newest offering, the S1, is designed specifically to help students.

Quality is subjective, but we tend to believe the company, which is backed by investors including the Acumen Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The S1 costs less than $8 and offers up to four hours of LED-based lighting for a day’s worth of charging. The device is rugged and, as you can see in the picture, very bright.

So who is going to use this thing? Anyone who needs cheap access to reliable lighting–including students. In one pilot in India, every single one of 275 students surveyed claimed that they studied regularly with the D.light S1. All of the students reported increased productivity, cleaner air in their homes, and reduced risk of fire (as compared to kerosene).

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100 Watt’ LED Bulbs Lighting Up

‘100 Watt’ LED Bulbs Lighting Up

May 18, 2011 — First there was the incandescent bulb. Then came the compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. Now, light-emitting diodes — the tiny bulbs already used in automobile headlights and tailights — are available for use in household and office lighting.

Osram Sylvania, based in Danvers, Mass., and Switch Lighting, based in San Jose, Calif., have both announced that they have an LED bulb that’s as bright as a 100-watt incandescent bulb, but consumes just 14 watts of energy. This is huge news for anyone looking to save money on their utility bills. Where a CFL bulb provides three to four times the energy savings of an incandescent bulb, LEDs offer 10 times the savings of a CFL and last 25 times longer. In fact, they have an operational life of 100,000 hours, or 11 years of continuous operation. LEDs produce less heat and do not contain trace amounts of toxins, such as CFLs.

The cost of LED bulbs is still much higher than CFLs. Those coming to market from both Osram Sylvania and Switch Lighting (as well as Philips, who has a bulb that’s about as bright as a 75-watt incandescent bulb) cost between $40 and $50, while CFLs cost under $5 each. But as more manufacturers get into the act, the costs should come down. This kind of bulb could be extremely attractive to large office buildings, where electricity and the cost to maintain it (that is, changing thousands of light bulbs) can cut deeply into an owner’s pocket.

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