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A Review of ZOLA Electric

Manufacturer's Profile

ZOLA Electric was founded in 2011 in Tanzania by Erica Mackey, Xavier Helgesen and Joshua Pierce. Its first launched its solar home solutions to off-grid rural communities around the Serengeti in Tanzania. ZOLA Electric entered the Nigerian market in 2019.


ZOLA Electric estimates that more than 1.5 million users and over 300,000 homes and businesses use Zola products across multiple African countries including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Namibia, DRC, South Africa, Zambia and Nigeria. Though focused on underserved communities in sub-Saharan Africa, ZOLA Electric is also present in the U.S., Brazil, Pakistan, and the Philippines with plans to expand further into Northern Africa, Asia and South America.


ZOLA says that it has raised over $155 million equity financing from investors including Tesla (through Solar City) and a debt balance of $45 million since 2011. It is a recipient of the UN Momentum for Change Award, the Zayed Future Energy Prize and is a member of the Global Cleantech 100.

ZOLA's original system. No longer available.
Products

ZOLA Electric offers two solar home systems in Nigeria, the ZOLA Infinity and the Flex.


ZOLA Flex

The ZOLA FLEX is a plug-and-play, hybrid solar-inverter power system. The ZOLA Flex systems incorporates lithium-ion batteries (the Flex Power Box) with two system offerings with power ratings of130 Watts and 260 Watts. Though solar-prioritizing, the Power Box can be charged using solar, grid power or a generator.


ZOLA offers the ZOLA Flex in 6 configurations that allows the buyer to acquire just the system components, a USB chord and lights or alongside a standing fan, a rechargeable radio, an extension chord or a 24-inch or 32-inch LED television. Without the additional appliances, a ZOLA Flex can power a LED television, a decoder, Wi-fi devices, a fan, a radio and a power system.


ZOLA incorporates GSM connectivity that allows uses to access data, monitor the performance of their system, troubleshoot problems and receive updates to their systems. ZOLA offers a Flexx Max but it is not currently being offered.


ZOLA Infinity

The ZOLA Infinity is a much larger and sophisticated system. It incorporates a 2.3kWk Lithium-ion battery storage and a 1.2kWh inverter power. It can be scaled 'to infinity', but with units of ZOLA Infinity. This makes it an exceptional case in the class of similar inverter systems.


Warranty

ZOLA guarantees its products for five years.

ZOLA Electric is supported by engineering in the US and in the UK. They make a point of this meaning that they expect users to take their word for it and expect a good return on their investment. Users can expect their investment to last long beyond the warranty period.


Like similar offerings, (MTN Lumos, Bboxx and Baobab+), ZOLA Electric’s solar systems allows customers to adapt their usage to their income allowing them to pay over time using PAYGo micro-finance leasing and mobile money payments. However, they can be purchased with a one-time payment.

The ZOLA Flex compares favorably with the MTN Lumos and outperforms similar offerings by other brands. It is larger than the MTN Lumos and can support more appliances. But it is relatively costlier though users can expected a good return on their investment. Also, because they do not have a similar nationwide coverage, users may find it hard to receive operational support from ZOLA Electric or its distributors during the warranty period.


SolarKobo designs and installs solar-battery-inverter systems that can be procured with the help of an initial down-payment and a post-installation plan that can be spread over a period reaching up to twelve months.

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