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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assessing the Performance of LED-Based Flashlights Available in the Kenyan Off-Grid Lighting Market


Low cost rechargeable flashlights that use LED technology are increasingly available in African markets. While LED technology holds promise to provide affordable, high quality lighting services, the widespread dissemination of low quality products may make it difficult to realize this potential. This study includes performance results for three brands of commonly available LED flashlights that were purchased in Kenya in 2009. The performance of the flashlights was evaluated by testing five units for each of the three brands. The tests included measurements of battery capacity, time required to charge the battery, maximum illuminance at one meter, operation time and lux-hours from a fully charged battery, light distribution, and color rendering. All flashlights tested performed well below the manufacturers? rated specifications; the measured battery capacity was 30-50percent lower than the rated capacity and the time required to fully charge the battery was 6-25percent greater than the rated time requirement. Our analysis further shows that within each brand there is considerable variability in each performance indicator. The five samples within a single brand varied from each other by as much as 22percent for battery capacity measurements, 3.6percent for the number of hours required for a full charge, 23percent for maximum initial lux, 38percent for run time, 11percent for light distribution and by as much as 200percent for color rendering. Results obtained are useful for creating a framework for quality assurance of off-grid LED products and will be valuable for informing consumers, distributors and product manufacturers about product performance.

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