Clean Power

Published on November 1st, 2013 | by Derek Markham


Panasonic Starts 100,000 Solar Lanterns Project

November 1st, 2013 by  

Originally published on Ecopreneurist.

Panasonic's New Solar LED Lantern to Provide Offgrid Power

For those living off the grid, either by choice or by default, having an affordable way to use the sun’s energy to provide light and power after dark can make a big difference in their lives, and a new solar lantern promises to deliver on both counts.

The new solar LED lantern from Panasonic, the BG-BL03, will provide not only light, but also a rechargeable battery for storing solar energy to charge small mobile devices.

The new device is designed to be able to provide 360° of illumination from its 5 LED bulbs, enabling users to light up an entire room, and is powered by a separate 3.5 W solar panel that can fully charge the lantern’s internal nickel-metal hydride battery in about 6 hours.


“The lantern contains five LEDs and is designed to emit light 360 degrees. This wide emission angle makes it suitable for use in everyday life such as at family dinners and for children studying. With a touch of button on the lantern, the brightness can be adjusted between High (100 lx), Medium (40 lx) and Low (6 lx). The lantern has a handle, which allows for flexibility in setting up the light. It can be hung in the room, placed on a table or carried with the user.” – Panasonic

The BG-BL03 can provide up to six hours of light at the maximum brightness setting, or up to 90 hours at the low brightness setting, and a USB port is said to be able to charge a 700mAh capacity mobile phone battery in approximately two hours (and is capable of charging such a phone twice on a single charge).

Panasonic says their new Solar LED Lantern will initially be launched in Kenya, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malaysia, followed by other “Base of the Pyramid” markets (low-income groups in developing countries). This product is a great addition to the company’s 100,000 Solar Lanterns project.

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

  • JamesWimberley

    At last an entry into this market with a well-thought-out quality product by a big company with a proper supply chain, not a tiny well-meaning startup. Though it’s probably due to the tiny startups that this is happening.

    Panasonic are a heavyweight manufacturer of high-quality mono solar panels (600 MW in 2012 – It incorporates Sanyo, a pioneer volume producer. My guess is that they are launching these solar lanterns as a way in to a potentially enormous off-grid solar PV market in Africa.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Bringing electricity to the hundreds of millions who currently live without it will be an immense undertaking. It would mean that either a major corporation such as Panasonic (or multiple major corporations) get involved or some of the tiny startups evolve into major corporations.

      The result would be the same, very large companies. Probably better for the people who need the product that a large, established company jump into the market and move things along faster..

      Perhaps the startups should morph into distribution companies. The other part of the puzzle is creating ways for people to purchase these systems on credit, paying them off with the money they save from buying kerosene and candles.

      I do like the design of what Panasonic has produced. The panel is separate from the lamp. That means that systems can involve and the original panel can be linked with others to build capacity.

      I’d like to see them develop an expandable system.

      • eject

        Don’t worry. If they get out to African countries they will be turned into a lot of useful stuff way beyond light. Just look at their improvised welding machines or how they keep cars going. This really proves to me that an engineering degree is just a piece of paper (yeah there are certain things today that simply need the math and science background) but a real engineer is born as an engineer. It is what got us out of the caves.

      • JamesWimberley

        The phone charger feature is a big deal in Africa, with a rocketing number of users (, Some microlenders are supporting solar phone charging as a small business. I agree with eject that African entrepreneurs will rapidly find other uses. I hope the USB port will support the new Power USB standard (

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