Project Sunlight - Oliver’s House

Project Sunlight

Posted in: Zenzele

Over the last few months we have been actively involved in the Zenzele community. We recently initiated a community vegetable gardening project for the Zenzele community. Now we will be introducing them to the benefits of solar power. We have a number of projects lined up and the beauty of these projects is that they are simple to assemble, cheap and renewable. This is yet another initiative by Oliver’s House towards community development.

One of the biggest ravages of an informal settlement is fire. By introducing these projects into the Zenzele community we will decrease the number of accidental fire outbreaks. All of these projects will be in full swing come winter 2014.

Litre of Light


The liter of light is a simple yet effective DIY invention. It is economically sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is also a novel way of recycling waste. The mechanics and installation of the light are very simple:

  • Take a 2 litre plastic Coke bottle;
  • fill it with a mixture of purified water and bleach;
  • install the bottle into the roof of a house or shack;
  • the mixture of water and bleach refracts sunlight and creates the same intensity as a 55 watt light bulb;
  • with the proper materials and correct installation the “solar light” can last up to 5 years.

Solar Water Heater


The solar water heater was invented by Jose Alano, a retired mechanic from Brazil. This is yet another simple DIY invention and just like the Liter of Light, a useful way of recycling waste material. In the Zenzele community there is no hot water on tap. Most households have to heat water over an open fire and with it comes the dangers of setting fire to their homes. The materials used to make the water heater are simple and can be found in any household or refuse dump:

  • a number of 2lt plastic Coke bottles connected in an array;
  • standard garden hose and fittings;
  • plastic inline valve;
  • black paint – applied to the bottles to improve heat transfer;
  • depending on the intensity of the sun water temperatures can range from 30°C to 60°C.

Solar Oven


By definition the use of a solar oven (also known as a solar cooker) means you would be cooking outdoors. There are many different solar ovens around and all are based on low-tech technolgy. The design Oliver’s House has adopted is referred to as a panel cooker. Instructions on how to make a solar oven can be viewed at The solar oven cooks at approximately the same rate as a slow cooker.

There are hundreds of households in the Zenzele informal settlement. If we can get at least half the households to use these solar products the benefits to the community will be enormous:

  1. recycling waste into environmentally friendly uses;
  2. less fire outbreaks:
  3. effective community development

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