Solar Powered TVs and TVs that Run on Room Light


If you live in a developing country, miles from access to the nearest electrical grid and you want to watch television, you have to make the trek to the nearest grid-serviced town.  Not a great alternative if you have to drag your wife and kids through blistering heat of day or the danger-filled night in many third world areas. As an example, less than a third of Kenya’s 45 million people have their own TV, which is why solar powered TVs made by companies like M-KOPA Solar have been so well received in far-flung villages, and why new technologies like TVs that run on ambient room light will change the world.

30 Free Channels

Besides food, water and shelter, what most people living in rural developing countries want is television. In Kenya, M-KOPA Solar TV connects to the country’s digital television network of 30 free channels. Programming includes soap operas, premier league football games and marathons. But news about politics and business typically draws the most viewers. M-KOPA has sold thousands of its solar powered TV sets, and the company is hard-pressed to keep up with the growing demand.

How it Works

Solar TV is simple to hook up and easy to operate. Photovoltaic panels convert the sun’s free energy into electricity. A built-in controller efficiently manages the charging and discharging of a storage battery. An inverter then converts the direct current from the solar panels to alternating current for use by the TV set. Companies like MeagleSun offer TVs that include everything needed to run the TV—basically, a turnkey solar powered system. These kits come with an LED TV and all the components of a satellite kit, which includes a satellite dish, decoder and subscription service for various levels of programming. The photovoltaic panels, maintenance-free STECA batteries, a STECA inverter and security organs are all included in a high quality cabinet. Currently, M-Kopa’s power system is priced at around $200. It includes a solar panel, two LED bulbs, an LED flashlight, a rechargeable radio and adaptors for charging a phone.

Location Independent

Solar powered TVs can be set up in virtually any remote location. The only requirement is that it should have most of its day in sunlight. This gives people in the most remote locales on Earth access to news, entertainment and sports. It helps unite people by bringing together common interests and sharing common goals. News about weather and impeding dangers fostered by political unrest can be very valuable in these areas.

LED TVs Need Less Power

 Many solar TV systems have embraced LED technology because it consumes less power, is more reliable, and generally needs very little maintenance. LED technology also makes it possible for solar TV systems to run for longer periods without taxing backup batteries. Many solar TV systems provide enough electricity to run lighting systems and radios on the same installation.

TVs that Run on Room Light

It wasn’t too long ago that Samsung recently unveiled its solar-powered LCD television. But unlike other solar powered TVs, this one runs entirely on ambient light—room light. The 46″ prototype TV, shown at CeBit in Germany, features highly efficient solar panels that produce enough energy to power the TV without the need for external solar panels. Designed specifically to use very little energy, no batteries or other power sources are needed. The TV is also rich in features, delivering 1080p resolution and multi-touch input. Another breakthrough feature is the screen’s transparency, which allows viewers to literally see through the screen while it displays programming.

Solar TVs have come a long way and have gone the distance (to the world’s most rural areas) in the last decade. Adding Samsung’s ambient-light powered TV technology could really be a game changer in delivering news, weather and sports to third world populations.

Posted on Wednesday, September 21st, 2016