SunFireSolar Lighting Solutions

12 Million South Africans still live in poverty with the majority relying on Firewood or Paraffin to meet their basic energy needs. Over the past 12 years SunFire Solutions based in Johannesburg has developed Solar Cooking and Lighting technologies to address this issue.


Paraffin(Kerosene) lamps and candles form the major part of lighting choices in rural/poor communities and informal settlements in South Africa.Up to 88% of these household admit to using candles as their primary light source, and up to 22% percent say they use paraffin as well.

In these households paraffin is a necessary, even indispensable, danger.Paraffin is both hazardous and polluting, yet current circumstances like poverty and supply infrastructure prohibit communities from alternative choices, locking them into a negative debt spiral. SunFire is dedicated to bringing a safer, better and more affordable option.

First, let’s explore the use of paraffin and candles in rural and informal communities:

Surveys and hospital records between 1996 and 2001 in South Africa(not including our neighboring countries), estimated that:

  • 80,000 children ingest paraffin (kerosene) every year.
  • 40 000 children develop chemical pneumonia each year as a result of ingesting/inhaling paraffin.
  • More than 200 000 people per year are injured or lose part/all of their property from paraffin (kerosene) related fires.The following figures were attained from nine medical facilities from the Cape Town and Buffalo City Municipalities over the course of 2008.par-graph-1

The graph represents the amount of incidents including injuries, fires
and deaths related to the various energy sources within the study

As you will notice, paraffin accounts for a huge number of incidents such as ingestion and burns.

We now(next graph) look at the age groups in which these incidents have occurred and it is important to note that the highest incident rate occurs among children in the age group of 1-4. This is an alarming statistic indeed. Because paraffin is colourless and almost odourless, it is easily ingested by toddlers.


According to the South African Paraffin Association 77% of households store paraffin on the floor, while 19% store paraffin on a high shelf or counter and the remaining 4% on the floor. The motivation for these storage locations include keeping paraffin away from children (40%), lack of storage place (38%), or no reason (20%). This figure proves the necessity for alternative, safer solutions to this dilemma.

Along with all the health hazards, candles and paraffin account for a huge number of fires among informal settlements claiming the lives of many each year. The proximity of informal houses from each other makes these situations ever the more dangerous.
The Global Alliance for Cookstoves found that there are roughly 7 600 deaths per year in South Africa caused by household air pollution. A Staggering 1 300 of these deaths are children stemming mostly from paraffin and wood burnt inside homes.

Below, Sunfire presents two products that can provide a solution todependence on candles and paraffin for lighting needs.

Solar Candle Sticks
Candles that never go out

A safe easy to use and versatile lighting solution, Solar powered candle sticks provide a wonderful alternative to regular wax candles and paraffin. No emissions and no open flame means it is safe to use anywhere in the home without risk.

Solar Candles include two candles, a charging base,solar panel and stand for each candle. The candles slot into the charging base connected to a 0,5W Solar panel in order to convert FREE solar energy from the Sun to charge the 1.5V, 1700mA batteries housed within each candle. 10 Hours of sunlight supplies each candle with enough power to provide 16 hours of light offering more than 30 hours of light from the two candles. The stands provided make the candles easy to place wherever you need to shed light, the both come standard with a hanging hook for even more versatility.

Currently in South Africa, candles are around R3 each. A regular household uses 2-3 candles per night. This amounts to between R180 and R270 per month spent on candles among Rural and informal households.
SunFire’s Solar powered candles only cost R175 but can supply free light straight from the sun for a minimum of 2 years. The average candle budget for rural households can be up to R3240 per year. This means that over the course of two years, the Solar powered candle sticks produce a saving of up to R6305for allocation to other expenses…!!! A phenomenal saving from a small change

Solar Lantern with Cellphone charger


With up to 20 hours of light from a full charge, this lantern is the ideal partner for dark times. It features a built-in hanging hook for positioning the Lantern wherever you need it.With Its High/Low modes and water resistance, it’s a very durable and versatile light. No open flames, just light. This Lantern also includes a USB port and adapters to charge most standard phones so users stay sustainably connected wherever they are.

The removable 1,5W panel, ensures a charge time of around 8 hours in full sun, and includesa 2 meter cable makingit easy to charge without the need to place the Lantern in the sun.  With 3000mAh storage in the battery, this lantern ensures a long lasting shine with enough battery power to charge phones on a dedicated mobile phone charging circuit. There is a battery level indicator included in the build of the Lantern in order for users to easily manage power consumption.
SunFire’s Solar Lantern only cost R399 but will supply users with free light and charging capabilities straight from the sun for a minimum of 2 years. The average candle and charging budget for rural households can be up to R3540 per year. This means that over the course of two years, the Solar powered Lantern is able to produce a saving of up to R6681 for use to alleviate pressure on other budget expenditures.

SunFire Solutions would like to see these technologies integrated into daily living and becoming readily available within poor and rural communities where they are most needed. Solar Technologies provide many advantages ranging from affordability and safetyto freeing up existing income for reinvestment elsewhere. Products highlighted are a perfect forcreating entrepreneurial opportunities or top up existing businesses income.

With a capital outlay of just R575, an individual can start his or her own successful business immediately. SunFire also has a range of other products ranging from Solar Cookers to small solar home lighting systems and cellphone charging products that can be added to the entrepreneur’s products range as their business expands.Please feel free to ask about anything Solar related and we will endeavour to provide you with the required assistance.