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  • Project name: LED lighting for poultry production in Kenya
  • Dates: August - September 2010
  • Location (city/state/country & Map Link): Maai Mahiu, Rift Valley, Kenya
  • Contact person & email: Evan Mills (
  • Organizations involved: Lumina Project & Lighting Africa
  • Sponsors: Blum Center for Developing Economies & Lighting Africa
  • Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed: 12 solar-powered LED light sources (Barefoot Power systems)
  • Photos:
  • Project description & results:

    The Lumina Project and Lighting Africa conducted a full-scale field test involving a switch from kerosene to solar-LED lighting for commercial broiler chicken production at an off-grid farm in Kenya. The test achieved lower operating costs, produced substantially more light, improved the working environment, and had no adverse effect on yields. A strategy using conventional solar-fluorescent lighting also achieved comparable yields, but entailed a six-fold higher capital cost and significantly higher recurring battery replacement costs. Thanks to higher energy and optical efficiencies, the LED system provided approximately twice the illumination to the chicken-production area and yet drew less than half the power.

    At the study farm, 3000 chickens were grown in each of three identical houses under kerosene, fluorescent, and LED lighting configurations. Under baseline conditions, a yearly expenditure of 1,200 USD is required to illuminate the three houses with kerosene. The LED system eliminates this fuel use and expense with a corresponding simple payback time of 1.5 years, while the solar-fluorescent system has a payback time of 9.3 years. The corresponding reduction in fuel expenditure in both cases represents a 15% increase in after-tax net income (revenues minus expenses) across the entire business operation. The differential cost-effectiveness between the LED and fluorescent systems would be substantially greater if the fluorescent system were upsized to provide the same light as the LED system.

    Providing light with the fluorescent or LED systems is also far more economical than connecting to the grid in this case. The estimated grid-connection cost at this facility is 1.7 million Kenya Schillings (approximately 21,250 USD), which is nearly six-times the cost of the fluorescent system and 35-times the cost of the LED system.

    The LED system also confers various non-energy benefits. The relative uniformity of LED lighting, compared to the fluorescent or kerosene lighting, reduced crowding which in turn created a less stressful environment for the chickens. The far higher levels of illumination also created a better environment for the workers, while eliminating the time required for obtaining fuel and maintaining kerosene lanterns. An additional advantage of the LED system relative to the solar fluorescent system was that the former does not require a skilled technician to carry out the installation. The portable LED system lighting layout is also more easily adjusted than that of the hardwired fluorescent systems. Furthermore, switching to the LED system avoids over one metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions per house on an annual basis compared to kerosene.

    There is high potential for replication of this particular LED lighting strategy in the developing world. In order to estimate the scale of kerosene use and the potential for savings, more information is needed on the numbers of chickens produced off-grid, as well as lighting uses for other categories of poultry production (egg layers, indigenous broilers). Our discovery that weight gain did not slow in the solar-fluorescent house after it experienced extended lighting outages beginning on day 14 of the 35-day study suggests that conventional farming practices in Kenyan broiler operations may call for more hours of lighting than is needed to achieve least-cost production.

    Links to other docs: The full report, photos, and videos can be downloaded here.

Great project! The ultimate question is.... do LED lights make  tastier chickens?

some brands do ;-)

Saw this UC Davis project making the rounds in the LED literature, thought I would share:

Looks like a design competition, the Davis team won for a solar light used to boost chicken egg production (so exactly what you are listing here!)  I'm trying to think of the "why did the chicken cross the road" joke, it'll come to me eventually... get to the other light!

WAY better than my "because the pico-powered lighting product had insufficient daily solar run time"

Click here to read a report about Elephant Energy's rent-to-own pilot projects in Namibia, and our efforts to develop a new pay-as-you-go solar system: 

Thanks Doug -- If you have time, it would be great if you could flesh out the info per the suggested outline at the top of this thread.

Thanks for this, really interesting 

Thank you for sharing this, Doug.
Very interesting.

Perhaps this list of pay-as-you-go solar is useful:

Thanks again, very inspiring work!

the link is not working. Please update

Thanks, Moubachir. Here is the updated link:

Hope this helps, and just let me know if you have further questions.



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