Between Kenya power and Solar, which to choose?


Between Kenya power and Solar Power, which one to go for?

Kenya power and Lighting company (kplc) is the sole power distributor in the country, known in business circles as monopoly. Wether to choose kplc or not for electrical energy supply will depend on your choice. However, it is good to make an informed choice.

Advantages of Kplc as your power supplier:

1. Infinite power delivery. The company can supply you with the amount of power you need. From lighting a 3W bulb to powering a mining factory. You are assured of power supply that will meet energy required to run your machines.

2. Maintenance

Once connected to the grid, maintainance of the power supply lines to your premises will be done by the company, save for maintainance inside the premises.

3. Quality power.

Kenya power supplies Smooth Sine Wave kind of power. This is to mean that the kind of power can run appliances and equipments without damaging them due to unseen intermittent power fluctuations. 'unseen' because with a naked eye, you can't see but there are testing equipments like CRO and other modern devices that can tell you that your power supply is 'quality'.

4. Right voltage.

Kenya power supplies power at the "right" voltage as required by our equipments in kenya. Generally, we require power at 230V and any other value would destroy your equipments immediately. Do a simple experiment. Take a 12v ac or dc bulb that may be is no longer working. Put it in a bulb holder supplied by 230v ac. Do this while the switch is off. Now switch on while at a safe distance. My friend, it will burst like an atomic bomb. However, this requires a knowlegeble person in electricity, for a poorly done circuitry with MCB exceeding 6A may cause joints and junctions to overheat.


1. Time taken to get connected.

Being the only company, you may get connected within a week or wait for a year. It will depend on many circumstances.

2. 600meters radius.

If you are outside 600m radius from the nearest transformer, you will not be connected. The alternative is to apply for your transformer.

3. Power blackouts

Though not all the time, mains electricity may not be available, although this is not only in kenya. The world over this kind of energy supply involves long transmission cables and a string of transformers all supported by poles. As a result, they would need maintainance often. And since this is FIRE and not WATER, the guys doing the routine maintainance must switch the supply off before engaging in any kind of work. There is no alternative to this even if it were you. So at one point, embrace blackouts as normal when it comes to mains electricity supply.

4. Costs

The connection cost is always cheaper to that of solar but there is a monthly bill.

5. Who calls the shots.

This is not your project. So decision making and how the company is run is a preserve of the company.



1. Connection is as first as you buy the materials.

2. Uninterruptible power supply.

Here, there is a guarantee that there is always power unless if your consumption exceeds the power pack you installed.

3. Who calls the shots.

Since it is your project, you can decide what to do with your power.

4. No monthly bills.

5. Safety.

You can decide to do 12 V dc ,wiring and use 12V dc equipments although they are few. With 12 V power supply running in your house, the power is safer than the mains' 230V which can give a serious shock. But this does not mean that power at 12V can not cause electrical fires. It will in case of a fault in the lines. The 12V is safe only in touching the naked wires, but not any other fault.


1. Initial cost.

To install solar power that can give you the same amount of power as mains is damn expensive.

3. Regular battery replacement.

Common lead acid batteries will last 3 years with excellent manintance. At the end of this period, you will be required to replace the batteries.

4. System maintaince.

This is where many people go wrong. Solar power supply requires a qualified, sincere, hardworking and informed person to keep the system healthy. Solar system can collapse due to a simple mistake like low electrolyte levels, under use or over use of the power from the batteries, mishandling of the batteries, poor wiring of both solar panels and the system....

5. Weather.

This adversely affect a solar system performance too much. The mathematics you do on your power requirements will always be influenced by the weather that particular time. For example if your technician tells you that you need 500W of solar panels and 500ah of batteries in July in kenya, be sure when the cold season is over, you need about 300W of solar and may be 300ah of battery. So it becomes tricky. And if you have too much power than you need, the batteries will get spoilt. Do not say you have a charge controller. From experience, I have seen that even with one, your battery will still be overcharged. The solution to overcharging of your battery is the correct rating with the solar and use of the power frequently combined with a well timed isolation of the solar panels from the battery pack when you feel the batteries are full yet you won't use the power that fast.

6. Thieves.

Thieves can easily carry away a solar panel.

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