A Review of Flexx by Bboxx
Bboxx is a British company that manufactures, distributes and finances decentralised plug-and-play solar home systems in developing countries, mostly Africa. Bboxx says that it has provided off-grid energy to two million people globally, with substantial operations in countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Togo, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As at November 2022, Bboxx has raised up to $209.5M in funding. It was founded in 2010 by three engineering graduates from Imperial College, London, with the aim of creating a sustainable, affordable, and commercial solution to the energy access challenges experienced by communities and businesses in the developing world.
Thought its solar home systems were already available in some parts of Nigeria through its collaboration with distribution partner Pan African Solar, in October 2021, Bboxx announced that it had expanded into the Nigerian market. Bboxx hopes to provide electricity to 20 million Nigerians and create ten thousand jobs in Nigeria over the next decade. The launch of Bboxx Nigeria was supported by funding from BEAM, an investment platform focused on energy services founded in 2018 by Bamboo Capital Partners.
Like similar brands including Oolu Solar, Bboxx targets low-income earners mostly in peri-urban and off-grid rural communities, or according to Bboxx 'rural customers at the bottom of the energy pyramid.' It offers two products, the Flexx10 and Flex40. The Flexx10 is a portable plug-and-play 'lantern' meant to replace kerosene lamps and candles and charge a phone. The Flexx40 is larger and incorporates a 38.4W lithium battery and has a rated energy output of about 37Wh/day to support LED lights and a phone charger. The Flexx10 sells for a one-time payment of about N12,000 while the Flexx40 is subscription-based.
Bboxx has larger solar home systems that are not just lightning kits, the bPower Series. Designed for small businesses and households in mind, they can power an LCD television, a laptop, a standing fan, a shaver, a subwoofer and multiple phones. But these are not being offered in Nigeria at the present. (An iteration, the Home Cool, is however available.) It compares favorably with the MTNLumos.
Unlike other central inverters, most solar home systems are not able to perform very sophisticated functions and cannot power a wide range of appliances. Also, they can only be charged from their single solar panel and cannot be scaled with the incorporation of extra parts. Regardless, with manufacturing in China, Bboxx's kits are durable and can be expected to last beyond the guarantee period.
The two Bboxx offerings, the Flexx10 and Flexx40 are not products designed for urban users, except as, well, lamps. Even for when they will become available in Nigeria, the bPower series are still relatively small systems. For urban users in Lagos and throughout Nigeria, SolarKobo can recommend and design larger solar-battery-inverter systems that can be procured with the help of an initial down-payment and a post-installation payment plan that can be spread over a period reaching up to twelve months.