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The SunPowa water heating system, ideal for situations where there is no electricity or simply to help create a greener environment.

SunPowa heaters use solar energy to heat water in settings that have little or no access to electricity and provide a more affordable, safer alternative to traditional heating methods like paraffin, coal, wood or gas.

With heating capabilities in excess of 65°C, SunPowa kills harmful bacteria in untreated or poorly treated water, ensuring safer bathing, cooking and washing. The portable design is lightweight with multiple installation options ideal for informal structures.

Innovation

SunPowa Solar Water Heaters were conceived by a pastor working in rural communities outside of Durban, South Africa. He saw a need for a more effective, affordable means of obtaining hot water in areas that had little or no access to electricity and often had untreated or poorly treated water sources. Over the last five years, the heaters have been engineered, tested and manufactured and within the last six months, SunPowa has entered the initial distribution phase.
SunPowa heaters are currently being manufactured in South Africa and distributed both locally and in other African countries through private distribution channels.

How does it work?

SunPowa heaters use solar energy to heat up to 10L of water in a single unit. Once the water is poured into the unit, either from an external vessel or through a standard garden hose hook up, the exterior solar panels absorb and transfer heat to the water. Once the water reaches the desired temperature (55°C within two hours and 65°C within four hours), the unit can be tipped to pour the hot water into a separate container for daily use. If left in the unit away from direct sunlight, water stays hot for up to two hours.
SunPowa heaters were designed to provide an affordable, easy-to-use alternative to traditional heating methods, which include wood, paraffin, coal and gas. Extensive testing has shown that the heaters can provide water in excess of 65°C in as little as four hours when exposed to direct sunlight. The resulting hot water has been CSIR tested, proving that harmful bacteria is killed during the heating process, subsequently providing cleaner, safer water for cooking, bathing and other important daily tasks.
While conservative estimates allow for two users per unit, a single unit could provide adequate water for up to four people completing routine household activities, allowing for a one-time cost of $5/person.
 
 

Tests

Water from SunPowa heaters has been tested by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa for the efficacy of solar thermal water on pathogens. Water that had been heated for four hours in a SunPowa Solar Water Heater showed a significant reduction in bacteria, resulting in water that was safer for bathing, cooking and washing.
Engineering tests were also performed on the unit by the Centre for Polymer Technology (CPT) to determine durability. Test results determined that the heaters performed well after 500 hours UV exposure.
Additional research and development is being performed to ensure that the heaters provide a long-term solution for users, including the ability to withstand extended exposure to sunlight and heat, as well as environmental elements.

Expanding

To date, five hundred SunPowa units have been sold in South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tests are currently being conducted by consumers in rural areas of South Africa, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Next Steps

SunPowa's plan for growth currently includes five channels. Ultimately, we would like to reach as many consumers as possible within the African continent, but also see an immense benefit for NGOs working around the world, in both stable and crisis environments.

For distribution and sales, we are pursuing the following channels:

Large-scale government

1. Large-scale government, charity and NGO groups. Through networking, grants and other relationship building activities (conferences, symposiums, etc.), we will provide knowledge and exposure of our product, ultimately allowing for distribution to communities already working with these organizations. Likewise, we hope to provide direct-giving opportunities through charitable gift catalogs and web sales (i.e., Heifer International, Oxfam, etc.) And lastly, given the lightweight design and easy portability of our product, we are offering the product to aid organizations as it is ideal for crisis situations and humanitarian aid environments where water sources have been compromised.
Small-scale NGOs and charities
2. Small-scale NGOs and charities. While we don't expect large sales from these organizations, by providing information to smaller groups, we can create opportunities for product-specific fundraising within established donor groups.
Local sales
3. Local sales. We have already begun sales through local advertising in South Africa, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Swaziland. We will continue to grow these sales with an internet and social media presence, as well as through word-of-mouth and collateral advertising.
Industry-specific events
4. Industry-specific events. By attending industry trade shows and conferences focused on topics like solar/alternative energy and water, we can generate leads, create product exposure and provide direct product sales.
Distribution through existing channels.
5. Distribution through existing channels. Through established relationships with other product distributors, we are adding our product to existing channels in countries like Kenya and Zambia as a direct-to-consumer product. As these distribution channels grow, our product will continue to reach larger audiences and expand into communities that are in need of this type of innovation.
The SunPowa water heating system delivers cleaner, safer heated water for virtually any setting. The user-friendly, portable design is ideal for situations where there is no electricity and provides a simple way to reduce heating costs and create a greener environment. And with multiple installation options, SunPowa water heating systems can be adapted to suit nearly any type of dwelling.
CPT Test The Centre for Polymer Technologies tested SunPowa Solar Water Heaters to evaluate tensile strength, impact resistance and durability in solar cycling. Positive results were reported in all categories after 500 hours of UV exposure.

CSIR Water Test
The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research conducted research on water heated for four hours in a SunPowa Solar Water Heater. The water showed a significant reduction in harmful bacteria and pathogens, making it cleaner and safer for daily activities like bathing, washing and cooking.