Adetoro Adetayo Adetoro is a Sustainability Professional who graduated with a Distinction in Sustainable Chemical Engineering (MSc) from the University of Bath. She partners with startups and organizations to conduct sustainability studies and advise on best practices.

Sustainable Cold Storage Solutions for Off-Grid African Businesses: The Koolboks Approach

3 min read

Highlighting Koolboks; a provider of eco-friendly, solar-powered refrigeration products to the Nigerian market, making refrigeration more accessible, affordable, and environmentally friendly, while also discussing the benefits of solar-powered appliances.

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Empowering Off-Grid Africa with Solar Refrigeration Solutions

In Africa, the power grid supply can be unpredictable and unstable, creating difficulties for households and businesses, particularly those dealing with perishable goods. To address this challenge, many businesses rely on diesel-powered generators, which are both costly and environmentally harmful. Nevertheless, Koolboks offers an alternative solution that uses solar energy to power refrigeration. Research shows that solar energy is the most abundant form of renewable energy on the planet and is rapidly expanding worldwide. Surprisingly, under three weeks of sunlight can generate the same amount of energy as the collective output of coal, natural gas, and oil worldwide. 

Revolutionizing Refrigeration: Koolboks’ Eco-Friendly Approach

The French technology startup is now providing eco-friendly, solar-powered refrigeration products to the Nigerian market for domestic, commercial, and healthcare use. This makes refrigeration more accessible and affordable. Initially, Koolboks developed an outdoor camping refrigerator that was targeted at European campers. However, in 2020, the company shifted its focus to business owners in off-grid locations across Africa and emerging markets, starting with Nigeria. Since Ayoola Dominic and Deborah Gael founded the company in 2018, Koolboks has secured a total of $3.5 million in funding, $2.5 million of which came from seed funding.

Energy from the Sun – Best Selling Koolboks Solar Deep Freezers
Sustainable Cooling Anywhere, Anytime with Koolboks’ Solar Refrigeration

The Koolhome is an innovative refrigeration solution that operates on solar power, making continuous cooling possible even in the absence of on-grid electricity and sunlight. The Koolboks refrigerator utilizes ice compartments to store energy during the day, which can then be used at night to maintain the cabinet temperature until the sun returns. Additionally, it has lithium-ion batteries integrated into its freezers to provide high energy density, low maintenance, and long-lasting power to complement the ice batteries. These refrigerators are multi-functional, serving as freezers, refrigerators, or lighting units, and they include two LED light bulbs and USB ports for charging mobile phones.

Affordable Access to Off-Grid Solar Refrigeration through Koolboks’ Pay-As-You-Go Model

The company offers distributors the opportunity to lease-to-own Koolhome freezers with its embedded Pay-As-You-Go technology. Customers can pay $10 to $20 per month to own one of these off-grid solar refrigerators. The technology allows for mobile money payments and GSM-based machine-to-machine connectivity to monitor and control usage, billing, and performance remotely. This approach makes refrigerators more accessible and affordable to small businesses that previously had difficulty accessing refrigeration solutions.

Cutting Costs and Boosting Efficiency with Koolboks’ Solar Freezers

Making the switch to a solar freezer can lead to significant cost savings when compared to traditional electric freezers that rely on grid power. According to Koolboks, their off-grid solar refrigeration solution can lower the cost of owning a solar refrigerator by nearly 40%. A solar freezer is a cost-effective option because it does not require a steady power supply from the grid, allowing anyone to save money on their monthly electricity expenses. By harnessing the energy of the sun, the freezer operates on a free and abundant source of energy. In addition, the Koolboks freezer uses ice batteries and lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, which enables it to maintain refrigeration for up to four days without access to power or sunlight.

“Since I got Koolboks my profit margin has increased” – Boumzie Ventures
Preserving Freshness and Minimizing Waste with Koolboks’ Solar Refrigeration

Moreover, owning a Koolhome freezer can lead to long-term savings by preventing food waste. Traditional freezers can result in food spoilage and the need to replace spoiled food during power outages or blackouts, which can be costly. However, a solar freezer eliminates this risk by providing a constant supply of power, ensuring that food remains fresh and safe to consume.

Solar-Powered Appliances: The Safe Choice for Households with Koolboks

Koolhome freezers also enhance home safety by eliminating the risk of high voltage shocks caused by AC power. Solar-powered appliances operate at a lower voltage than regular appliances, making them safer for household use. Voltage-related accidents, such as electrocution, are more common in households with young children, who are more vulnerable to electrical accidents. Switching to solar-powered appliances, such as freezers and refrigerators, can eliminate these risks and create a safer living environment for families.

Reducing Carbon Footprint with Koolboks’ Solar-Powered Refrigeration

In addition to being cost-effective and safe, adopting solar-powered appliances like Koolboks freezers has a positive environmental impact. It reduces reliance on and consumption of fossil fuels, such as coal, and thereby minimizes the damage caused to the environment. This is a significant contribution, as any effort to reduce reliance on fossil fuels is beneficial.

Making Solar-Powered Refrigeration Accessible and Sustainable

Koolboks is a prime example of how innovative startups can offer practical solutions to address the challenges facing emerging markets. By utilizing solar energy and a pay-as-you-go model, Koolboks provides businesses with affordable and reliable refrigeration while also reducing their environmental footprint.

Adetoro Adetayo Adetoro is a Sustainability Professional who graduated with a Distinction in Sustainable Chemical Engineering (MSc) from the University of Bath. She partners with startups and organizations to conduct sustainability studies and advise on best practices.

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