A Wind Powered, White LED Lighting System for the Kibera Slum of Nairobi

Brian Thomas


A multidisciplinary team of engineering students traveled to Nairobi, Kenya in
May 2006 to implement a service learning project between academic sessions. Low power, white light emitting diode (WLED) based lighting devices were designed and built by student participants and members of the student organization Engineers with a Mission during the months preceding the trip. Photometric performance and power consumption data are given for these devices, which were subsequently installed in seventeen homes in the large and infamous Kibera slum. A locally manufactured, technologically appropriate wind generator was purchased and installed to charge a single, centrally located deep cycle battery. Power from this battery was distributed to the LED-based lights through a
student designed and built circuit breaker panel and a radial network of indoor/outdoor extension cords that served as low voltage transmission lines. The project provided a learning environment for alternative energy techniques, appropriate technologies, global and multicultural awareness, poverty apprehension, the realities of project implementation, and the social responsibility of those in the engineering profession. A network of Kenyan organizations consisting of a university, a non-governmental organization, a small business, and a community organization, was formed to facilitate
sustainability and provide ongoing analysis and maintenance.

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