Humboldt State University

Schatz Energy Research Center

Off-Grid Lighting

A SERC Engineer discusses LED lighting in Africa.

Professor Arne Jacobson interviews Kenyan shopkeepers about their lighting needs and introduces them to LED lighting products.

Lighting from kerosene, candles, and other fuels can be dirty, dangerous, inefficient, and expensive, but it nonetheless serves as the primary source of illumination for well over a billion people worldwide. Electric lamps that use light emitting diode (LED) technology have emerged as a promising substitute for fuel-based lighting in unelectrified areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

SERC is a leader in efforts to increase access to good quality, affordable off-grid lighting and solar home systems in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and beyond. Over the past eight years, SERC has worked closely with the Lighting Africa, Lighting Asia and Lighting Global initiatives to develop an international program for quality assurance and consumer protection for LED-based off-grid lighting and power systems.

In addition, SERC engages with Global LEAP, UNCDF, CLASP, GOGLA and other organizations focused on off-grid energy access. SERC also partnered with the Lumina Project, led by Evan Mills of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Arne Jacobson of SERC. Publications generated through this collaboration are available on the Lumina Project library page.

Work by SERC staff and students since 2006 has included the development of test methods for evaluating LED-based off-grid lighting systems, laboratory testing of the systems, field research in Kenya, India, and other countries, implementation of the Lighting Africa Outstanding Product Awards competition, publication of influential articles and reports, and a number of other associated activities.

SERC also maintains an off-grid solar testing lab that is accredited to conduct testing according to IEC/TS 62257-9-5* by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and can test pico-solar products and solar home system kits up to 100 W.

Information about student participation in these activities is available on the projects page of the Energy Technology and Policy graduate program website.

For additional project news and updates, view the following posts in the News section of our site: