Consol Solar Jar
The Consol Solar Jar™ is a solar-powered glass lantern with an integrated battery designed by Suntoy.
The Consol Solar Jar™ is a battery-powered glass lantern charged by an integrated solar panel. It stores energy during the day and releases light at night. On a clear sunny day, a full charging offers 6 to 12 hours of light, and on an overcast day, it offers from 1 to 3 hours of runtime. It is a one-litre classic glass preserve jar, fully recyclable, portable with a carrying handle and watertight.
View details of distributors both locally in South Africa and worldwide here.
Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
Rural electrification for off-grid households; also for: camping and outdoor activities, events and decoration, night-light and studying/reading/cooking light, path and passageways.
The product is designed and manufactured by Suntoy in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Trademarked; the unique. waterproof on-off switch design with no moving parts is patented.
Consol Solar Jars are available for purchase from Consol stores in South Africa and resellers globally. Suntoy also sells the Solar Jars wholesale.
Type of light bulb
Number of light points
A measurement of the brightness level of the lantern
Can the brightness level be adjusted?
Duration of lighting after a full charge
Can the user easily replace the light bulb if needed?
Type of energy used to power the lantern
Type of battery used
Peak power rating of the solar panel in standardized sunlight conditions, provided by the manufacturer
Manufacturer-specified battery capacity
Manufacturer-specified battery voltage
Can the user easily replace the battery if needed?
Can the user easily replace the light bulb if needed?
Detailed technical specifications are available for the Consol Solar Jar. Components include the one-litre classic glass preserve jar, durable electronics, 2 re-chargeable batteries (each 600 mAh), 4 LED lights and an integrated solar panel (3 V, 135 mA). This is also a micro-USB-B input port (the same that is found on many android smart phones) to provide an alternative method for charging in overcast conditions (charging cable and wall socket are not included).
The power output is 15 lumens, equivalent to 120 mW. It will provide 1 hour of light for every hour charging in direct sunlight, so will average 6-9 hours of run time per typical charging day, with a maximum of 12 hours on long clear days and around 2 hours from a rainy, overcast day.
It has a unique on-off magnetic switch that has no moving parts and is watertight, as demonstrated in the image below (taken underwater).
The Consol Solar Jar also has several other features:
It turns off automatically when low battery voltage is reached to protect the battery and extend its lifetime. It also illuminates for 60 seconds when the external lighting level suddenly falls below a threshold to assist in finding the lantern in the dark, and does not illuminate even when switched on if external lighting levels are high (to conserve power).
This image shows the unique on-off magnetic switch, currently in the on position – the small circular magnet is touching the metal line across the solar panel.
This image shows the internal electronics for an old model of the Consol Solar Jar; the 200,000th Jar to be manufactured. For this model the batteries were easily replaceable.
The battery was replaceable for previous models but is now integrated into the lid. If broken, the one-litre classic glass preserve jar could be replaced with a locally sourced equivalent.
The product’s lifetime varies from 18 months (when used continuously) up to ~4 years if only partially discharging the batteries each day. This is based on the batteries’ lifetime; they are rated to give 500 cycles (full charge-discharge).
Suntoy originally developed the Consol Solar Jar for improving energy-access in areas without electricity within South Africa. The product is designed to be water-tight and durable due to the inclusion of a magnetic switch which does not require moving parts.
Getaway magazine tested the product and found that it illuminated an area of 70cm diameter for 7 hours and 30 minutes.
No other third-party vetting has been performed and Getaway did not test the product’s other features.
Manufacturer testing indicates that the product has 120 mW power output, 15 Lm light output and up to 80% of efficiency. After a fully-charging clear sunny day, the Solar Jar can produce 6-9 hours of light per day and ± 2 hours of run time (from 1 to 3 hours/day) from charge on rainy, overcast day. The batteries should give ± 400 full charges before they begin to deteriorate.
Electronic components should be handled cautiously, especially around water. Care should be taken with the jar of the lantern to avoid sharp impacts that may smash the glass.
There is no academic research about the specific product, however the following report studies the community involvement on his campaign strategy to place more solar jars in the residential areas of Melville in Johannesburg, South Africa:
Van Zyl, C., 2013, Supporting a community through design: Melville, Johannesburg. University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Literature also exists focusing more broadly around the potential impacts of solar lanterns:
Kinoti, M., 2018, Socio-Economic Impact of Solar Lamp Lighting in Kibera Slum, Kenya. International Journal of Professional Practice, 6(4), pp. 30-36.
2019, Short-Term Impacts of Solar Lanterns on Child Health: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh. The Journal of Development Studies, 55(11), 2329-2346.
Lemaire, X., 2018, Solar home systems and solar lanterns in rural areas of the Global South: What impact? WIREs Energy Environ, 7(5), e301.
Shepherd, C., 2018, Misreading the night: The shadows and light of a solar technology. The Promise of Prosperity: Visions of the Future in Timor-Leste. J. M. Bovensiepen, ed., ANU Press, pp. 205-221.
Other than manufacturer-based testing, the only third-party to have tested this product is a magazine – Getaway Magazine. The testing seems to have been limited to confirming the run-time and illuminated area for a single unit of the product initially at full charge.
Field trials have been performed by the manufacturer and some experiences can be found in Suntoy’s Blog.
The lantern is rated 4.6/5 on Amazon (from 4770 reviews).
The Consol Solar Jar has won various awards.
The product has had a social impact by creating manufacturing jobs for previously unskilled and unemployed women from townships of Johannesburg.
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