More than a billion people still live in semi-darkness after sunset, no better off than in earlier centuries, mainly because they are beyond the reach of mains electricity. The traditional forms of lighting such as candles and oil lamps tend to be inefficient and inadequate yet most of the more recent types of lights like kerosene pressure lamps (Tilley Lamps), butane lights with incandescent mantles or dry-cell powered torches (flashlights) have such high running costs that they are too expensive for anything except occasional use. Recent technical developments have led to new possibilities such as high-efficiency folded tube fluorescent lamps that can be substituted for a conventional light bulb yet use only one fifth of the electricity to produce the same amount of light. Such efficient lamps can now allow the economic use of solar photovoltaic power systems to convert and store sunshine during the day into electricity to provide lighting at night. These, and other new lighting technologies are becoming available and more affordable, but it is difficult to know which types and sizes are most appropriate for different purposes and to evaluate their cost-effectiveness in comparison with traditional lighting techniques. Also, as with most products that are only newly available and not well understood, the quality of many kinds of lighting system is quite variable and the potential user will often benefit from some advice on what features to look for to ensure reliability and maximum cost-effectiveness. To meet their needs, this book primarily addresses the question of choosing and using "stand-alone" lighting systems. It also considers some of the more general problems of using lights, such as sizing and positioning them correctly for different purposes, the use of reflectors and other methods of improving lighting efficiency. Such questions are of relevance to people using mains electric lighting as much as for those living in remote areas. The book also includes a "buyers' guide" section providing up-todate information on lighting systems and products. "Rural Lighting" has been jointly published with The Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden.
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