Rent to own solar?

A Canadian entrepreneur and his company made an innovative yet less expensive solar power system that might be an answer to free electricity. In some places in India, entrepreneur Paul Needham’s “rent-to-own solar” from Simpa Networks are already being used, and so far, with good results.

According to Smithsonian, Needham’s version of solar power system composes of a 40 watt solar panel, a 26 amp-hour battery, two LED lights, a 15-watt outlet for appliances and two ports to charge or power two LED lights.

All of these will be operated using direct current (DC). A meter, which looks like a car battery, has an e-ink readout that illustrates the remaining balance or days left for the power to work. It also has special LED tube lights that’s the same size of a freestanding electric fan as well as a card table-sized blue rooftop panel that is positioned toward the sun.

The entire system costs $270 and can be bought one time. However, some customers prefer to do a “pay-as-you-go” contract, where they pay small payments over two to three years, with the end result of them owning the equipment. According to Needham, there are about 20 percent who buys the system outright after six months and it seems like everyone is attracted to the idea that their payments will eventually lead to purchase.

According to a case study conducted by Simpa, there are over 1 billion people worldwide that lack access to electricity. And it’s possible that even a billion more has undependable connections, getting only four to 12 hours of power per day but spending 20 percent or more of their incomes to meet this need.

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