Kenya – Solar Project

International Peace Initiatives (IPI) has asked Engineering for People to come and work with their in-house engineer to fix their solar water heater and solar array. Neither system is working and they cannot find locals who can help. This means that the project is two-fold: (1) fix the engineered system, (2) offer engineering education to grow local empowerment. This work will be done to fit with IPI’s goals and include an open-source operation and maintenance manual so that these projects can be owned and operated locally and can be used to create future jobs.

Here’s some background about IPI:  IPI is a Kenya and U.S. based organization that is dedicated to supporting and funding initiatives that mitigate the effects of poverty, disease, discrimination and violence. IPI provides Homes for orphans and vulnerable children, supports African grassroots organizations and community leaders, and provides trainings in peace education and conflict resolution. The IPI tools are education, enterprise and empowerment.  They are focused on becoming energy and food independent– and the solar project will help this. Check them out at


Information about the solar panels: The Kithoka Amani Childrens Home (KACH) is comprised of three separate buildings each of which is connected to the grid (government controlled power lines), and each building can separately control what is or is not powered within it.  There is also a solar electrical system designed to power two of the three buildings.  To use it, the user can choose to turn on/off solar instead of using the grid.  The grid and solar systems are designed to be two completely separate systems. When grid power is on, solar power is off. When solar power is on, grid power is shut off to the two designated buildings. The two systems should not be activated at the same time.  Everyone needs to understand how and why to safely switch this on/off in order to help IPI reach its goals to get off of the grid and save money.  The local engineer needs to understand how the assembly, installation, and wiring works in order to train people in the area to grow this as a technical career.

Solar Array.jpg

Information about the solar water heater: A solar water heater is something that naturally circulates hot/cold water and is an ‘easy’ way to heat water for free.  IPI built one that is missing some key points that keeps it from working.  Making use of the sun is a great idea and can keep IPI’s monthly bills low so they can better spend their money on other things like educating children!

Copy of IMG_4527.JPGHere we go!