Renewables

MTN Lumos Review

This is not a paid review. I am not getting any thing from MTN for this. I just thought this would be the perfect way to let people see the benefits of solar panels, solar energy and renewable electrical power generation.

I love being natural, eating organic food and seeing simple things work. June 2017, I had to get a stable source of electricity to aid my freelance job. The common solution a lot of people would resort to is getting a petrol generator, due to the erratic power supply in Nigeria. I weighed my options and I thought about doing something different from what majority would do. I purchased the Yellow Lumos box from MTN Nigeria.

The MTN Lumos solar power station comes with an 80 watts solar panel, the yellow control box housing the battery, a 75 watts AC power inverter, and 2 white energy saving bulbs. It would equate to about $830 or N300,000. This cost in naira is spread over 60 months. The installation and initial purchase cost N33,500; subsequently monthly subscription at N4500 spreads the actual cost of the system over 5 years. When compared to the cost of running a small generator, assuming the generator costs N21,000; the fuel costs, servicing costs and noise pollution would definitely cost more than the solar power station.

The only regular maintenance required for the power station is cleaning the dust, from the surface of the panel to maintain its efficiency. As I began using my solar station, my first challenge was an issue with the power inverter. It is manufactured in China. It generates heat and can be affected by prolonged used in poorly ventilated rooms. The first one I had was damaged by prolonged use, while charging my laptop.
It was after that incident that I had to search online and find a solution, which has served me well. I currently use a Sony Vaio laptop with its charger rated at 19.5 volts and it draws 3.9 amperes of current.
Going by the equation Power = voltage * current; the resulting power drawn by the laptop charger is 76.05 watts. The power inverter can conveniently power appliances with a rating of 100 watts for a short period of time, but prolonged exposure will lead to damage of the power inverter.

The efficiency of the inverter is often discounted at less than 100 % and so when we factor this into the equation, you can realize how easy it would be for an inverter to lose its efficiency, when used in less than ideal conditions.
I went online and I learned a new way to power my system. The power inverter is first placed in the yellow box, and a minute or two passes for the system to stabilize, before an extension box is connected. Then the charger is unplugged from the laptop, before the pins are inserted into the extension box. When the system stabilizes after a minute or two, the laptop pin end of the charger is inserted into the laptop charging point and it charges perfectly. This has been my routine for the past eight months.

Since I bought the solar power station, I am more observant of the electronics I buy and how I use electricity.I find myself searching for DC devices more often. I used an AC powered standing fan and within a short time, it stopped revolving while connected to the power inverter. Instead I got a mini USB DC fan which has an almost negligible effect on my battery. It certainly isn’t as effective as the larger standing fan, but at close proximity when I am working, it provides sufficient ventilation. Another consideration is that the mini USB fan costs less than $10.

Monitoring electricity usage is still a big challenge in Nigeria, due to metering problems, estimated billing and unlawful connections to the electricity supply network. If habits can change and people seek better value for their money and time, the MTN Lumos solar station is a suitable back up for average family living rooms. I look forward to reading your comments, are you a green aficionado ? do you have a solar device ? let’s talk in the comment section.