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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Observed Minimum Illuminance Threshold for Night Market Vendors in Kenya who use LED Lamps


Creation of light for work, socializing, and general illumination is a fundamental application of technology around the world. For those who lack access to electricity, an emerging and diverse range of LED based lighting products hold promise for replacing and/or augmenting their current fuel-based lighting sources that are costly and dirty. Along with analysis of environmental factors, economic models for total cost-ofownership of LED lighting products are an important tool for studying the impacts of these products as they emerge in markets of developing countries. One important metric in those models is the minimum illuminance demanded by end-users for a given task before recharging the lamp or replacing batteries. It impacts the lighting service cost per unit time if charging is done with purchased electricity, batteries, or charging services. The concept is illustrated in figure 1: LED lighting products are generally brightest immediately after the battery is charged or replaced and the illuminance degrades as the battery is discharged. When a minimum threshold level of illuminance is reached, the operational time for the battery charge cycle is over. The cost to recharge depends on the method utilized; these include charging at a shop at a fixed price per charge, charging on personal grid connections, using solar chargers, and purchasing dry cell batteries. This Research Note reports on the observed "charge-triggering" illuminance level threshold for night market vendors who use LED lighting products to provide general and task oriented illumination. All the study participants charged with AC power, either at a fixed-price charge shop or with electricity at their home.

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