MTN Lumos Solar Inverter: A Review
Updated: Jan 16
In December 2013, the Mobile for Development Utilities Programme awarded the Netherlands based company Nova Lumos or just 'Lumos' a seed grant to trial
the development of a mobile-enabled energy service with MTN Nigeria. The MTN Lumos solar kit first sold in May 2015. In 2016, Lumos launched a commercial expansion in
multiple MTN stores in multiple Nigerian states.
Otherwise a portable solar hybrid inverter for home use, the MTN Lumos Electricity kit consists of the following:
An 80W single solar panel unit with cables and connectors.
A 300Wh Lumos solar inverter.
Two bright LED bulbs.
Two USB ports (5V DC/2.1A).
Four DC output jacks (12V/2A).
Two car cigarette sockets (12V/8A).
A 60W inverter.
A DC-DC converter. (Read about DC-DC converters here)
An in-built battery for self-consumption. (Read about self-consumption here.)
The kit works as a hybrid solar inverter system. Learn about hybrid inverters here. Though it can only be charged through solar panels, it is still able to store energy produced through the solar panel in an in-built battery for subsequent use to maximize self-consumption.
Average charge time is six (6) hours.
The warranty period is 5 years. During the warranty period Lumos/MTN will provide free maintenance for the panel and IDU only. (MTN/Lumos does not offer repair service on accessories including the inverter.) After five years (or 1800 paid days), Lumos and MTN concede ownership of the kit to the owners.
Unlike fuel generators, it does not produce any fumes and is noiseless.
It is designed to be incorporated into home spaces.
It comes in the iconic MTN yellow colour.
With the help of a controller or a DC-DC converter, it produces power in a pure sine wave form that is safe for appliances. Read all about the types of output forms here.
The main attraction of the Lumos solar system is that users are able to spread costs over a long period of time. Though in the long term, investments in alternative energy systems prove far more economical, high procurement costs still remain the main concern for potential users. Read our article on the subject here. In the exact same way, SolarKobo gives its customers the chance to spread out their investments on superior systems over a period that reaches up to 12 months to help them bear the financial burden.
Parts of the terms and conditions requires the user to use the system for at least 20 days in a month or make deficit payments on the previous months before it can be used for the current month. The system will be deactivated until the deficit is paid. If it is locked up for up to 60 days, the owner may have to give up ownership of the system.
The MTN Lumos allows an upfront payment of about N20,000 and subsequent subscriptions from the number in which the kit is registered, without which the kit will not work.
The 20,000 upfront payment does not include additional installation fees and an initial activation fee of N4,850 for the first 30 days. Initial costs may rise to about N27,000.
*Prices are subject to change without warning. A minimum of 20 days subscription is required monthly, whether the system is used or not. The 20 days subscription need may be mixed and matched among the different plans.
Capacity and Appliances
The MTN Lumos kit has an output capacity of about 60W. It is thus able to power AC appliances whose output capacities total about 50W; it can carry DC appliances up to 100W. It can carry at least one ceiling fan, a decoder, a laptop, LED and LCD Televisions, radios, etc. It cannot power tube televisions, desktop computers, washing machines, microwaves, deep freezers, electric cookers, water heaters, ceiling fans, blenders air conditioners and other high-capacity appliances.
In addition to the Pay as You Go investment plan, the kit is made from high-quality and long-lasting components. However, while this kit is attractive because of the investment plan that allows the user to pay over a period of 5 years, unlike other central inverters systems, it is not able to perform very sophisticated functions. Also, it can only be charged from the single solar panel. This raises concerns for those who live in places where the sun does not shine daily. The kit has been known to not function on cloudy days. Also, the long range of devices that it cannot power makes it unattractive. As a portable inverter, it cannot be upgraded with the incorporation of extra parts.
N4850 per 30 days for 5 years totals N295,000. With the addition of initial costs, the investment in an MTN solar box will exceed N325,000 and considering that what the user pays for is the time the box is in his possession and not the time it is used, the total investment may rise significantly. SolarKobo can recommend more reliable inverter systems that can be procured at a similar cumulative cost of the kit or even less with the help of an initial down-payment and a post-payment plan that can be spread over a period of twelve months.
The MTN Lumos is sold in select MTN shops and centres across Nigeria.