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Starting a DIY Solar Project

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  • Graham Knight
    Following the suggestion from Andrius of an electricity project that would show how communities might work closer together, I m posting my latest effort at
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 26, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      Following the suggestion from Andrius of an "electricity" project that would show how communities might work closer together, I'm posting my latest effort at explaining what is involved in such a project.
      If you can see any way of improving or adding to the content do let me know.

      Starting a Project

      Many people have difficulty starting a DIY Solar (microsolar) project. We do our best to help though it is not often easy.
      The most important aspect is communication.

      It is NOT necessary to get big funding! If you were intending to sell a new sort of radio, for example, you might need to spend money on hiring a stall etc to explain how it is better/different than others but with something unknown, but useful, you can start by selling it to friends and neighbours!

      We are willing to do everything possible to ensure good outcomes but contacts often fail to fully communicate with us.
      They seem to think they are too much bother - but we see it as our job to answer questions!
      DIY Solar is not like other projects and it often needs a lot of 'chat' with us, and maybe others, to decide how best to go ahead.

      Confusion can be much reduced if just one person is put in charge - this is important!
      It is essential that this person communicates freely and concentrates their mind on deciding how things should work.
      It is also essential to start 'small'.
      Only when you have proved to yourself that this DIY Solar technique really works will it be easy to persuade others it is worth consideration!

      Later you might look for funding but don't be in a hurry! It is not easy and often the demands of the funding agency are not simple to conform to! And loans often have very high interest rates.

      Much better to make 'products' for local sale and use some of the proceeds to buy in more pv parts.
      This is usually better than getting a loan which is often unaffordable!

      What so many people ignore is the proper funding of a project!
      Unless someone is offering finance you will need to make and sell pv devices so as to raise money to buy more pv parts from us or another supplier!

      What to first solar convert? Once a project is underway other people can be brought in - but not too soon!
      Ideally you need to convert existing devices, such as radios, by adding a small pv module.
      You should have used the free sample sent on request to power a radio/LED so this is an obvious first step.

      For radios it is best to have the pv module on a long lead so it can be put in the sun while the radio stays in the shade.
      Another, even cheaper possibility is a solar charger for your mobile phone. The cheapest solution is remove the battery from the phone and connecting it directly to a tiny solar panel!

      Whoever takes charge of a DIY Solar project must make sure that they first fully understand how the free sample works.
      Then they can consider using it in different ways or increasing the size of the battery, pv panel, number of LEDs, etc!

      A Project that went wrong

      One recent attempt to start a DIY Solar project was supported by a $100 gift from Andrius to research the project but although much interest was shown no account was made of all the costs involved with a project where goods had to be imported.

      It means that where we offer a set of parts for say $100 they have to be sold locally for at least $200 (and probably) more to make the project viable.

      Charity

      Some Western NGOs rightly use funds to help in emergencies but others are too willing to supply food etc where there is no emergency and so undermine local markets.
      Other again send money which undermine local initiatives.

      Many people expect that Westerners should be generous to people in developing countries but as Muhammad Yunus, the inventor of Grameen, says,
      "I deeply believe that offering charity is not the way to redress the problem of the poor. To me, that ignores their problem and lets them rot.
      The able-bodied poor don't want or need charity: the dole only increases their misery; it robs them of initiative and, more importantly, of self-respect. "

      We offer DIY Solar not just because it gives some power but also because offers a chance for the poor to start the sort of millions
      of small enterprises that Muhammad Yunus has helped to introduce into many countries!
    • Janet Feldman
      Dear Friends, Thanks much for this important conversation, and to Graham for outlining basic and necessary steps in starting a DIY project. Can we link this
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 26, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        Dear Friends,

        Thanks much for this important conversation, and to Graham for outlining
        basic and necessary steps in starting a DIY project. Can we link this with
        what has been happening on the ground in terms of member research and
        attempts to start projects?

        For Wendi and Graham, I looked back at our initial conversations earlier
        this year, to refresh my memory about why it seemed that DIY might not be
        appropriate for Cameroon. Graham, you indicated--after seeing Wendi's
        original research, posted here at HH--that you didn't think (in your words)
        that DIY was "right" for AK's needs. You said you were sorry to sound
        "downbeat", but gave the impression that their perceived needs (as
        formulated in early research) could not be met with DIY products.

        This is why I, for one, did not pursue the solar issue further at that time.
        Do you have a different assessment now, and in what ways (ie could you
        outline how you think AK might use DIY products)?

        To Wendi and AK, I am very happy that you have continued to do research and
        hopefully have a better and deeper understanding of solar, and perhaps what
        you need to do to start a solar project.

        I do wonder, as an aside, why you didn't share what you were doing with
        me--as I had agreed to be a mentor--or at HH? If I had known that you were
        continuing to look into solar, despite Graham's assessment at that time of
        working with DIY, I would have been more "present" in terms of feedback and
        advice. This is not really a criticism, but more a request for you to be
        more communicative in future. As Graham says below, communication is very
        important!

        Do either or both of you have a sense of whether you and we can work
        together now? Wendi, did you finally get the or "a" package sent by Graham,
        as one seemed to go astray?

        I know that Peter Ongele, Pam, Mark and Jeff, Peter Burgess, Sam, and others
        are interested in exploring the solar option, so hopefully we can get some
        regular discussion going here now about that, and perhaps build towards a
        joint project of some kind, as Andrius has proposed.

        A suggested first step: can we link what Graham has said below with the
        research and actions/steps taken so far by members here, related to DIY
        and/or solar? AK, Peter, Pam, Sam, and anyone else, plz let us know if or
        what you have done so far in terms of the steps Graham outlines, or what you
        might do--if you can do this--to start taking these steps.

        Hopefully Graham can answer questions here, and guide you/us through the
        process. It's important that this be "visible" to all of us, I think, so
        that we know what's going on, first of all, and secondly so there can be
        shared learning and action, and also emulation by others.

        We might even consider--based on these conversations and information--the
        creation of a DIY manual, which would make use of DIY and/or solar more easy
        and attractive, via clear and simple explanations, a "questions and answers"
        section, and the like.

        Thanks much to all, and look forward to moving ahead with this. I may be
        here less for awhile (July-August-Sept), due to family matters, but I will
        try to keep giving feedback and helping to move the conversations along, as
        needed (though I'm happy to say they are starting to do that on their own
        :))).

        All best wishes and blessings, Janet


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Graham Knight" <DIYSolar@...>
        To: <holistichelping@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 4:42 AM
        Subject: [holistichelping] Starting a DIY Solar Project


        > Following the suggestion from Andrius of an "electricity" project that
        > would show how communities might work closer together, I'm posting my
        > latest effort at explaining what is involved in such a project.
        > If you can see any way of improving or adding to the content do let me
        > know.
        >
        > Starting a Project
        >
        > Many people have difficulty starting a DIY Solar (microsolar) project. We
        > do our best to help though it is not often easy.
        > The most important aspect is communication.
        >
        > It is NOT necessary to get big funding! If you were intending to sell a
        > new sort of radio, for example, you might need to spend money on hiring a
        > stall etc to explain how it is better/different than others but with
        > something unknown, but useful, you can start by selling it to friends and
        > neighbours!
        >
        > We are willing to do everything possible to ensure good outcomes but
        > contacts often fail to fully communicate with us.
        > They seem to think they are too much bother - but we see it as our job to
        > answer questions!
        > DIY Solar is not like other projects and it often needs a lot of 'chat'
        > with us, and maybe others, to decide how best to go ahead.
        >
        > Confusion can be much reduced if just one person is put in charge - this
        > is important!
        > It is essential that this person communicates freely and concentrates
        > their mind on deciding how things should work.
        > It is also essential to start 'small'.
        > Only when you have proved to yourself that this DIY Solar technique really
        > works will it be easy to persuade others it is worth consideration!
        >
        > Later you might look for funding but don't be in a hurry! It is not easy
        > and often the demands of the funding agency are not simple to conform to!
        > And loans often have very high interest rates.
        >
        > Much better to make 'products' for local sale and use some of the proceeds
        > to buy in more pv parts.
        > This is usually better than getting a loan which is often unaffordable!
        >
        > What so many people ignore is the proper funding of a project!
        > Unless someone is offering finance you will need to make and sell pv
        > devices so as to raise money to buy more pv parts from us or another
        > supplier!
        >
        > What to first solar convert? Once a project is underway other people can
        > be brought in - but not too soon!
        > Ideally you need to convert existing devices, such as radios, by adding a
        > small pv module.
        > You should have used the free sample sent on request to power a radio/LED
        > so this is an obvious first step.
        >
        > For radios it is best to have the pv module on a long lead so it can be
        > put in the sun while the radio stays in the shade.
        > Another, even cheaper possibility is a solar charger for your mobile
        > phone. The cheapest solution is remove the battery from the phone and
        > connecting it directly to a tiny solar panel!
        >
        > Whoever takes charge of a DIY Solar project must make sure that they first
        > fully understand how the free sample works.
        > Then they can consider using it in different ways or increasing the size
        > of the battery, pv panel, number of LEDs, etc!
        >
        > A Project that went wrong
        >
        > One recent attempt to start a DIY Solar project was supported by a $100
        > gift from Andrius to research the project but although much interest was
        > shown no account was made of all the costs involved with a project where
        > goods had to be imported.
        >
        > It means that where we offer a set of parts for say $100 they have to be
        > sold locally for at least $200 (and probably) more to make the project
        > viable.
        >
        > Charity
        >
        > Some Western NGOs rightly use funds to help in emergencies but others are
        > too willing to supply food etc where there is no emergency and so
        > undermine local markets.
        > Other again send money which undermine local initiatives.
        >
        > Many people expect that Westerners should be generous to people in
        > developing countries but as Muhammad Yunus, the inventor of Grameen, says,
        > "I deeply believe that offering charity is not the way to redress the
        > problem of the poor. To me, that ignores their problem and lets them rot.
        > The able-bodied poor don't want or need charity: the dole only increases
        > their misery; it robs them of initiative and, more importantly, of
        > self-respect. "
        >
        > We offer DIY Solar not just because it gives some power but also because
        > offers a chance for the poor to start the sort of millions
        > of small enterprises that Muhammad Yunus has helped to introduce into many
        > countries!
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?HolisticHelping
        >
        > Please note our rule: Each letter sent to the Holistic Helping group
        > enters the PUBLIC DOMAIN unless it explicitly states otherwise. Thank
        > you! http://www.ethicalpublicdomain.org
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >


        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



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        12:49:00
      • Pamela McLean
        Hi Janet I am focusing on my Dadamac work at present and have had to stop reading most email lists for a while. However I did read yours on DIY solar and read
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 27, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          Hi Janet

          I am focusing on my Dadamac work at present and have had to stop reading most email lists for a while. However I did read yours on  DIY solar and read it becaseu of recent contacts with Graham. ( BTW I do also appreciate the opportunity of being in the chat room on the first Thursday of the month, to catch up with Minciu Sodas contacts and news.)

          You are right that I have had an interest in DIY solar. Graham demonstrated it to me at his home in  2002, so that I could take out a sample to David Mutua in Ago-Are, and have some idea what it was all about. Later when David was home in Kenya (in 2004 I think) he was able to learn more. At Fantsuam Foundation he did some related training (so that others would know how to assamble the devices), and he did some "sensitisation" which I think was similar to what Wendi was doing  - i.e. finding out if people liked it. As far as I know it did not go any further. I didn't hear of any serious market research or making a business plan. Obviously David would be able to give you better information on this than I can.

          You also mention the importance of communication. I hope to soon be communicating better - about Dadamac. I am trying to pull together the various  bits and pieces that I am doing with John in a way that makes them easier to share with other people. This does include a small investigation of DIY solar again, as there seems to be some local interest and need regarding charging phones. It is early days yet and everything that we know we are learning from Graham - just as other people are doing here in Minciu Sodas.

          Greetings to you Janet, and to everyone in Holistic Helping. I am sorry I will not be able to keep following this thread (so please don't reply to this HH email as I will be unlikely to see the reply).

          I will let you know when I am back reading email lists again, and when our Dadamac information is easily available.

          Pam
           


          2009/6/26 Janet Feldman <kaippg@...>


          Dear Friends,

          Thanks much for this important conversation, and to Graham for outlining
          basic and necessary steps in starting a DIY project. Can we link this with
          what has been happening on the ground in terms of member research and
          attempts to start projects?

          For Wendi and Graham, I looked back at our initial conversations earlier
          this year, to refresh my memory about why it seemed that DIY might not be
          appropriate for Cameroon. Graham, you indicated--after seeing Wendi's
          original research, posted here at HH--that you didn't think (in your words)
          that DIY was "right" for AK's needs. You said you were sorry to sound
          "downbeat", but gave the impression that their perceived needs (as
          formulated in early research) could not be met with DIY products.

          This is why I, for one, did not pursue the solar issue further at that time.
          Do you have a different assessment now, and in what ways (ie could you
          outline how you think AK might use DIY products)?

          To Wendi and AK, I am very happy that you have continued to do research and
          hopefully have a better and deeper understanding of solar, and perhaps what
          you need to do to start a solar project.

          I do wonder, as an aside, why you didn't share what you were doing with
          me--as I had agreed to be a mentor--or at HH? If I had known that you were
          continuing to look into solar, despite Graham's assessment at that time of
          working with DIY, I would have been more "present" in terms of feedback and
          advice. This is not really a criticism, but more a request for you to be
          more communicative in future. As Graham says below, communication is very
          important!

          Do either or both of you have a sense of whether you and we can work
          together now? Wendi, did you finally get the or "a" package sent by Graham,
          as one seemed to go astray?

          I know that Peter Ongele, Pam, Mark and Jeff, Peter Burgess, Sam, and others
          are interested in exploring the solar option, so hopefully we can get some
          regular discussion going here now about that, and perhaps build towards a
          joint project of some kind, as Andrius has proposed.

          A suggested first step: can we link what Graham has said below with the
          research and actions/steps taken so far by members here, related to DIY
          and/or solar? AK, Peter, Pam, Sam, and anyone else, plz let us know if or
          what you have done so far in terms of the steps Graham outlines, or what you
          might do--if you can do this--to start taking these steps.

          Hopefully Graham can answer questions here, and guide you/us through the
          process. It's important that this be "visible" to all of us, I think, so
          that we know what's going on, first of all, and secondly so there can be
          shared learning and action, and also emulation by others.

          We might even consider--based on these conversations and information--the
          creation of a DIY manual, which would make use of DIY and/or solar more easy
          and attractive, via clear and simple explanations, a "questions and answers"
          section, and the like.

          Thanks much to all, and look forward to moving ahead with this. I may be
          here less for awhile (July-August-Sept), due to family matters, but I will
          try to keep giving feedback and helping to move the conversations along, as
          needed (though I'm happy to say they are starting to do that on their own
          :))).

          All best wishes and blessings, Janet

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Graham Knight" <DIYSolar@...>
          To: <holistichelping@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 4:42 AM
          Subject: [holistichelping] Starting a DIY Solar Project

          > Following the suggestion from Andrius of an "electricity" project that
          > would show how communities might work closer together, I'm posting my
          > latest effort at explaining what is involved in such a project.
          > If you can see any way of improving or adding to the content do let me
          > know.
          >
          > Starting a Project
          >
          > Many people have difficulty starting a DIY Solar (microsolar) project. We
          > do our best to help though it is not often easy.
          > The most important aspect is communication.
          >
          > It is NOT necessary to get big funding! If you were intending to sell a
          > new sort of radio, for example, you might need to spend money on hiring a
          > stall etc to explain how it is better/different than others but with
          > something unknown, but useful, you can start by selling it to friends and
          > neighbours!
          >
          > We are willing to do everything possible to ensure good outcomes but
          > contacts often fail to fully communicate with us.
          > They seem to think they are too much bother - but we see it as our job to
          > answer questions!
          > DIY Solar is not like other projects and it often needs a lot of 'chat'
          > with us, and maybe others, to decide how best to go ahead.
          >
          > Confusion can be much reduced if just one person is put in charge - this
          > is important!
          > It is essential that this person communicates freely and concentrates
          > their mind on deciding how things should work.
          > It is also essential to start 'small'.
          > Only when you have proved to yourself that this DIY Solar technique really
          > works will it be easy to persuade others it is worth consideration!
          >
          > Later you might look for funding but don't be in a hurry! It is not easy
          > and often the demands of the funding agency are not simple to conform to!
          > And loans often have very high interest rates.
          >
          > Much better to make 'products' for local sale and use some of the proceeds
          > to buy in more pv parts.
          > This is usually better than getting a loan which is often unaffordable!
          >
          > What so many people ignore is the proper funding of a project!
          > Unless someone is offering finance you will need to make and sell pv
          > devices so as to raise money to buy more pv parts from us or another
          > supplier!
          >
          > What to first solar convert? Once a project is underway other people can
          > be brought in - but not too soon!
          > Ideally you need to convert existing devices, such as radios, by adding a
          > small pv module.
          > You should have used the free sample sent on request to power a radio/LED
          > so this is an obvious first step.
          >
          > For radios it is best to have the pv module on a long lead so it can be
          > put in the sun while the radio stays in the shade.
          > Another, even cheaper possibility is a solar charger for your mobile
          > phone. The cheapest solution is remove the battery from the phone and
          > connecting it directly to a tiny solar panel!
          >
          > Whoever takes charge of a DIY Solar project must make sure that they first
          > fully understand how the free sample works.
          > Then they can consider using it in different ways or increasing the size
          > of the battery, pv panel, number of LEDs, etc!
          >
          > A Project that went wrong
          >
          > One recent attempt to start a DIY Solar project was supported by a $100
          > gift from Andrius to research the project but although much interest was
          > shown no account was made of all the costs involved with a project where
          > goods had to be imported.
          >
          > It means that where we offer a set of parts for say $100 they have to be
          > sold locally for at least $200 (and probably) more to make the project
          > viable.
          >
          > Charity
          >
          > Some Western NGOs rightly use funds to help in emergencies but others are
          > too willing to supply food etc where there is no emergency and so
          > undermine local markets.
          > Other again send money which undermine local initiatives.
          >
          > Many people expect that Westerners should be generous to people in
          > developing countries but as Muhammad Yunus, the inventor of Grameen, says,
          > "I deeply believe that offering charity is not the way to redress the
          > problem of the poor. To me, that ignores their problem and lets them rot.
          > The able-bodied poor don't want or need charity: the dole only increases
          > their misery; it robs them of initiative and, more importantly, of
          > self-respect. "
          >
          > We offer DIY Solar not just because it gives some power but also because
          > offers a chance for the poor to start the sort of millions
          > of small enterprises that Muhammad Yunus has helped to introduce into many
          > countries!
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ------------------------------------
          >
          > http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?HolisticHelping
          >
          > Please note our rule: Each letter sent to the Holistic Helping group
          > enters the PUBLIC DOMAIN unless it explicitly states otherwise. Thank
          > you! http://www.ethicalpublicdomain.org
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >

          ----------------------------------------------------------

          No virus found in this incoming message.
          Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
          Version: 8.5.339 / Virus Database: 270.12.90/2200 - Release Date: 06/24/09
          12:49:00


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