WICKED Talks About Their Lighting Design and Light Plot

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I randomly ran across this really awesome video of the WICKED team talking about their light plot, lighting design, and lighting design team.  Pretty cool!  Check it out below:

From the video page:

It takes 650 lighting fixtures and a talented team of theatre artists and technicians to light up the WICKED stage. Meet the crew that illuminates Elphaba and makes Glinda glow to tell Oz’s most bewitching story.

 

Getting to Know the LED Ellipsoidal Generation – A JimOnLight Series Introduction

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I’ve done a lot of shows in my career so far. I’m lucky as hell, don’t get me wrong – but because of it, I feel like I have a real “bond” with incandescent and high-intensity discharge lamps (HIDs) that we use in this industry. It’s almost creepy sometimes – in my head, I know how a good ol’ no-color Source Four looks in a dark theatre. I know how an Altman 360Q looks in a theatre sitting next to it, too – and how it looks sitting with a Shakespeare, also uncorrected, next to a Source Four. As I close my eyes to write this, I can see how an old Strand 30-degree feels inside of a theatre or outside during an outdoor performance, and how a tried-and-true PAR64 can burns so beautifully bright and amber when it’s going through red shift during a nice slow fade-up during a song in an arena. Even awesome old Kliegl 6×8’s have a good beam still, as long as the optics are changed from those miserable step lenses!

As a side note, I listened to Vesa Honkonen tell a story when I was attending graduate study in Sweden about “trusting” the light from a certain type of reflector, and how that trust cost him time and money on a project.  So as a bit of an aside, with every statement is an equal anti-statement!

I have gotten to know the fixtures in our industry very well because I’ve been fortunate to use them in a real variety of performance situations and installations. When you get to know something like an ellipsoidal fixture with an incandescent lamp in it and you use it over and over and over again, you get to trust the fixture.  I can say with ease that I trust the light that comes from the business end of a Source Four; at the same time, I trust the light that comes out of an Altman 360Q as well, whether it has an HX601 lamp in it or an old FEL lamp.  As a designer, as an artist — I know what that light from an incandescent lamp in one of the “typical” variety of ellipsoidals is going to do for me in a scene on actors of any skin tone, or on a presenter during, or on film and video, and whether it has a chunk of R26 or L181HT in it.  I know that kind of light.  I trust that light.

In the world we live in now, incandescent lamps are slowly becoming forcefully shunned by a growing portion of the lighting industries as a whole (and politicians, sadly), with LED replacements becoming the forced norm by pretty much all of the companies that at one time were pushing an incandescent based fixture.  These companies are all now driving quickly on the road of a really good trend: to produce a fixture that provides the same kind of light or better than that of an incandescent lamp based fixture with a lot less power consumption and without losing any light quality.  Sounds easy enough, right?

There is a strange, edgy, “new car smell” feeling towards the new strains of LED fixtures making their births into the industry.  We are inundated with them at the trade shows in our business, just like we were with the incandescent conventionals.  Manufacturers, this is perfectly acceptable, and I think that it’s one of your biggest assets in this industry.  It’s your job to make us trust your fixtures, through hands-on videos and “shoot-outs” between incandescent and LED fixtures out there.  My informal surveying of conference attendees over the last three years has seen many responses like “TOO MANY LEDS” and “If I see another crappy wannabe LED fixture at another trade show, I’m going to die.”  Believe it or not, this is a really good thing — it provides an opportunity for the exceptional equipment to rise to the top of the Diode Ocean, as I like to call it.  Lately, these exceptions are overcoming their inferior rivals, much to my happiness.

Users, we have a job to do, too — we have to give the manufacturers the chance to trust LED light.  We have to learn how it is different than its incandescent counterparts.  We’ve had all of these decades to learn how to work with incandescent light (and HID light too, for what it’s worth), and we know it.  We trust it, and we love it.  But why is that?  It’s because it’s what we know, and it really is that simple.  Once we give the LED ellipsoidal generation a chance, you know we’re going to trust that too.  This isn’t to say that LEDs are done developing, this obviously isn’t true.  But I am noticing some unbelievably incredible advances in LED engines and output technology lately, especially after LDI in October 2012, and I have to say that I am finally ready to learn to trust LED conventional ellipsoidals.  It’s hard not to at this point to see that LED ellipsoidals are becoming the obvious choice, with the color temperature tuning we see now and the low power requirement that they provide — and to argue against energy consumption and power conservation is just not in my DNA.

Over the next 2 weeks I’m going to be comparing the LED conventional ellipsoidals we see in Entertainment to their incandescent counterparts over the next month, starting with ETC’s new Source Four LED line first, followed by Robert Juliat’s Zep and Tibo ranges, then moving on to the RevEAL Profile from Prism Projection, and so on.  In the mean time, let’s take a look at the characteristics I’ll be examining that I find important to applying trust, at least on paper – you can argue that there are more to see, but for the sake of argument, let’s start with:

  • Cost Comparison:
    What kinds of costs are we looking at over the course of an LED Ellipsoidal lifetime?  How different is it, really?
  • Light Output, or Perceived Brightness:
    How does it compare to a comparable incandescent conventional?
  • Spectral Analysis:
    What is the white light in the beam comprised of with respect to wavelength?
  • Power Consumption:
    When you put an LED ellipsoidal up against an incandescent lamp at 575W, how does it perform?
  • Weight:
    I have to stick these in a truck and on a truss at some point, so what is the difference I need to know?
  • Controllable Properties:
    Obviously I have only a few with an incandescent fixture, so what comes stock in an LED ellipsoidal that makes a difference?

Let’s go on this journey together.  When we work on something together as an industry, we get to make it how we want it to be, and manufacturers listen.  Once we started to get involved with the ways that incandescent lamps were developed and lighting designers started demanding better control over design and engineering of incandescent lamps, they improved.  All we have to do now is learn what the LED Ellipsoidal generation can do for us, and we can really make a difference.

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Saturday for Sustainability News

There are so many stories out there in my newsreader today about sustainability in energy production that it’s difficult to parse them all without talking about every single one.  But if I did that, I cold have neither A) Laura or B) a life, so I have to sometimes cull the massive amount of information into manageable little chunks.  My buddy Greg told me once:

How do you eat an elephant?  One spoonful at a time.

Here’s some spoonfuls of elephant that we all need to see:

Glut of Solar Panels is a Good Thing

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From CleanTechnica, is the market’s complete over-saturation of Solar Panels actually a good thing for the market?

US Residential Solar Financing to Reach $5.7 Billion by 2016

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The fact that residential solar financing is expected to reach into the near six billion dollar mark in the US alone should warrant some jubilation.  Right?  GreenTech Solar thinks so.

President Obama:  ‘We Must Do More on Climate Change’

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Another one from CleanTechnica, Obama stated that we must do more on climate change.  But he slipped the word “pipeline” in there.  We’re to assume that Obama means the Keystone XL Pipeline; are we also to assume he;s going to cave to Big Oil like he did Big Pharma?

As a side note, Consumer Energy Report also did a nice article on Obama’s climate change talk, well worth the read.

Hydro Beats Coal and Nuclear, Which Beat Oil and Natural Gas Plants, says A Recent Study

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This article is awesome, from Next Big Future.  It’s to a PDF link of a study talking about different scenarios for environmental stability.  It’s extremely nerdy, but that’s what you should expect here!
(thanks to TreeHugger for the photo!)

And now, time to sit and enjoy life with my wife.  I swear I am going to get that right this time.

What Do You Want in Light in 2013?

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It’s an interesting question to ponder because it requires you to not only think about what you *think* you want light to do over the course of a year, but it requires you to know what it is you think you *thought* about light and imagine where it *should* go.  Right?  Right.

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“What the f*ck is this guy talking about?!”
“I have no idea,” said someone.

It’s simple if you work with light; what is it you want to see from light this year?  Do you want to see something change in the industry?  Do you want to see something develop, like a new technology?  Or is it time for an old technology to get a new set of dentures?  For me, I want to see someone come out with a full-spectrum replacement light source for incandescent lamps.  Notice I did not say LED necessarily.  Also, I want to see the Entertainment Lighting Industry as a whole get behind PLASA, because I think that PLASA is the future of everything we will see blossom in what I call the brave new world of Entertainment Lighting.  I think it’s coming, and it’s just around the corner.  Will it be this year?  I tell ya, that would be pretty cool.  But who knows — as I see in software development pretty much all the time, it is amazing how quickly a technology you think you had mastered says “oh, I don’t think so, sailor” and shows you that you didn’t really have anything mastered at all, besides maybe your sleep schedule.

Richard Cadena, in his latest release of the Academy of Production Technology News, says that all he really wants in 2013 from the Lighting Industries is “an accident-free year in the live event production industry. After that, everything else is just gravy.”  I definitely agree.  “But it’s the gravy,” Richard writes, “and maybe some dessert, that make things interesting.”  Check out Richard’s whole post here, he’s hit the nail right sqwar on the head as is usual with his foresight.

Someone else who I shall keep nameless told me at a recent trade show:  “All I want to happen in 2013 is for the lighting companies to quit trying to f*ck each other out of money and just get along.  You don’t have to own the entire world, all it does is make those who could potentially improve our industry and give them absolutely no room to improve the way we do things.”

Do you agree?  What do you want to see happen in 2013 in Light?  Architectural light?  Medical light?  Fun light?  Naked light?

(Ooh, naked light sounds illuminating!)

Leave a comment below, we really want to know what your insights on light are for 2013!

EIBTM 2012 – Lighting Designers, JUMP ON THIS

I just got back last week from Barcelona, Spain – I was over at EIBTM 2012 for CAST; we’re exhibiting the Vivien suite and showed some wysiwyg to some folks.  In this respect, that’s unimportant.  What is important is the fact that I have never been to a show where there was such a potential for lighting design greatness than I have when I saw the show floor at EIBTM.

First – this show is absolutely jam packed and crazy.  Good crazy, mind you — this is a large show completely filling the Fira Gran Via Barcelona, which is a big, beautiful hall:

There are stand after stand of countries marketing to Event and Meeting Professionals and hoteliers and all kinds of really corporate stuff — 5-star hotel chains showing their best properties, city and country travel and tourism bureaus hocking their destinations as the “in” place to come for a particular event/meeting/what-have-you, and there is a lot of really tremendous design there — glass and wood, real plants, just and amazing display of crafstmanship.  Even our stand, a 10X20 over in the Technology Pavilion, had puttied and painted corners and generally looked sleek and nice.  There was one thing missing from most of these displays, and there were some magnificently enormous displays…

…the touch of a Lighting Designer.

There is amazing opportunity here, people — perhaps it’s time to start putting together some proposals and sending out some resumes, yeah?  Even though this is not (I repeat not) a lighting trade show by any stretch of the imagination, some of these countries’ displays could really benefit from the touch of a lighting designer.  Countries like Estonia, my favorite stand even though not the largest, could really benefit from some nice programming and sequencing to best fit their country’s appearance.  There is something so elegant about having the calculated eye of an LD to put some real pizzazz into something so important as hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue, if not exponentials of that figure.

This is not to say that they didn’t have the services of a lighting designer, but to me it did not appear as though an LD had given a lot of input other than GI (general illumination) in many of these cases.  Also keep in mind I’m a critical bastard who looks intensely at these things, and from a different perspective than any one of the attendees of this show — it’s just not what the show is about at all, it’s about destinations, events, meetings, and all of the revenue that goes along with that industry.  BUT, to the right LD, one of these stands could be a playground of immense proportions!

A few random teasers — there is a gallery at the bottom of the post with everything and anything from this trip!

Entering into the Fira Gran Via Barcelona for the show:

Spain’s EIBTM booth:

Denmark’s EIBTM booth:

Holland’s EIBTM booth:

Oh yeah, and Barcelona!  It was my first time in Spain, but I have to report that I only got to enjoy one really great meal and a bunch of hotel and convention floor food, I had the show on top of a beta program going on and writing documentation for said release.  I got a lot of cell phone shots of various locations around Barcelona, but I was busy from sun-up to sundown and didn’t really get much of a chance to enjoy Barcelona.  Sorry, Barcelona!  Maybe next time!  My Dad says you’re pretty cool, though.  La Barca del Salamanca is one awesome awesome awesome restaurant in Olympic Village along the water in Barcelona, there are some shots in the gallery of the amazing meal we had there with Corbin Ball!  Thanks Corbin, I had a blast!

Awesome.

Every street a different set of panels, but every street had them about every ten meters for miles.

The Maitre d’ un-crusting the salt from our sea bass at La Barca del Salamanca!

This image below was so awesome – this was a stone statue of a woman and child that was sitting by the Fira Gran Via loading dock entrance.  It’s obviously very old, but it was just so excellent to see this stone woman standing guard with her child over the loading dock.  I love stuff like that.

Click on any image thumb below and open up the Gallery view!

Come See Jim at PLASA Focus Stamford, November 11-12, 2012

Hey, are you in Stamford, Connecticut – or anywhere near?

Are you a fan of light and lighting?

Do you love going around to trade shows seeing what’s new and hip in the world of light?

Then hop the albatross and get to PLASA Focus Stamford!!!  It’s today and tomorrow, November 11-12, 2012.  I’ll be in the CAST Group booth for this show, come get a free hug while you can!  I’ll be in Booth 121 — or as soon as you come into the conference room, just look for the big CAST stand!

I’m also going to be giving my presentation called The Birth, The Childhood, and The Apparent Adolescence of Lighting Design Technology at 1:30pm Monday and 12:30pm Tuesday.  Come check it out, it’s free!  It’s also not a sales pitch, I really hate that at these shows.  PLASA Focus shows are all about the manufacturer and maker NOT hiding behind their huge Vegas-sized booths and have to actually answer questions and talk to people.  The room is tiny, and it is 10000% worth it.  Come check it out!

I also HIGHLY recommend checking out the following seminars, all available at PLASA Focus Stamford’s Seminar Schedule site:

MONDAY:

  • John Huntington’s What Is A Network, and Why Should I Care? — 1pm Monday
  •  Richard Pilbrow’s Architecture and the Art of TheatreDesign — 5pm Monday
     PS, he’s also signing his book then too — and that book is AWE-SOME.
  • Wendall Harrington’s Is Video Killing Theatre? 9am Monday
  • Don Holder’s Lighting Design:  The Past, Present, and Future — 10am Monday
  • Bill Sapsis‘ Heads Up!1pm Monday

TUESDAY:

  • TMB’s The Art of Wireless Control by Lumen Radio — 1030am Tuesday
  • The Tribe’s Visual Design for Live Performance — 11am Tuesday
  • Steve Shelley’s A Practical Guide to Starting A Career in Technical Theatre — 1pm Tuesday

This is going to be a great show!

JOL Sunday Flickr

it’s another Sunday, everyone!  I’m in Stamford, Connecticut this week for PLASA Focus Stamford, one of the smaller PLASA shows that are gaining a lot of popularity.  I have to admit that these PLASA Focus shows are pretty awesome — smaller booths, smaller rooms, and the knowledge of the people attending that a manufacturer or lighting company can’t hide behind their huge LDI-sized booths at these smaller shows.  Things are right out in the open, and we as lighting technology and equipment makers are under a tighter scrutiny to perform without the glitz and flare.  I absolutely love it.  It’s like putting up or shutting up for two solid days.

This week’s JOL Sunday Flickr is pretty beautiful — I dug down deep for this one!

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Pocket Universe

Rocca Calascio

LightMen Above Manhattan

Chicago

Lollapalooza 2011

Tap Kids! 2011 Showcase

Glorious Morning Startrail

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Sarah

Ploumanach Phare

World's Largest Disco 2010

Chicago Airport - 1

E = m c²  [Explored]

Have an excellent week, everybody!

UK Streets Might Get Mood Lighting

Heyooooo! JimOnLight’s UK correspondent here, coming at you with hot off the press news!

The conversation to dim streetlights during very low traffic levels has been initiated, and it’s causing quite a stir! The Press Association reports:

” Norman Baker, the local transport minister, supported the move as long as safety was not compromised.

In a parliamentary written answer he said: “The level of light reduction will be based upon internationally agreed standards and made in consultation with the UK’s Institute of Lighting Professionals.

“It is right that lighting authorities consider, in the interests of cost-saving and the environment, whether lighting can be sensibly dimmed or turned off, consistent with proper safety assessments.” “

The roads in question are the A roads, the major thoroughfares connecting cities which are not motorways. The Californian side of me would describe A roads as “highways,” while motorways are “freeways.” Kapeesh?

So we like saving the environment, and we like saving money. Why is this such a massive discussion?

Numerous fears including increased crime, automobile accidents, are mixed with financial worries. The conversion would cost a significant sum, and people aren’t sold on MAKIN IT RAIN!

The Telegraph reports:

“…While authorities across the UK are saving £21.5 million per year by turning off nine per cent of lights, the schemes to reduce street lighting cost a total of £106.3 million.

The bill for installing dimming technology or converting lights to part-night operations, which is five times greater than the saving, means some councils will not start seeing the benefits for up to eight years.”

This follows other UK locations, such as the Welsh county of Gwynedd have already experimented in dimming street lights between midnight and 5:30 am. There seems to be much more support of dimming street lights than turning them off. Kirklees and Derbyshire are amongst numerous experiments in turning off street lights, both completely and in selection (1 in 10 seems to be a common cutting ratio). Fears of isolation ensued.

What do you think? Turn ‘em all off and make everyone wear headlamps, selective black outs, dimming, ALL OF THE LIGHTS! @ FL or something else?

 

If you found this interesting, I also posted about the delightfully unexpected results of blue street lights in Glasgow as well as Japan here. I’m imagining these cobalt lamps as urban super heros, stopping crime and saving lives! Neato burrito.

Pay As You Go Solar in South Kenya

I saw an interesting article this weekend from CNN World’s website.  A company called Eight19 has created a pay-as-you-go solar technology called IndiGo that is being deployed right now in Kenya.  Check this out, this is Simon Bransfield Garth, the CEO of Eight19.  I knew I would like this company as soon as I realized what “Eight19″ meant – it’s the time that a ray of light from the sun reaches Earth.  Here’s Simon:

Here now is a quick video of a man named Samuel talking about the benefits of his Pay-As-You-Go Solar installation:

This is some pretty cool stuff.  The solar technology that Eight19 prides themselves on is a low-manufacturing-cost solar cell printed on a plastic film.  The reason that they can have products that are so low cost is that the printing method benefits from being able to use the high-speed roll printing technology that exists in the solar printing industry.  From the Eight19 website on the benefits of printed solar technology:

So, when the customer purchases the IndiGo package for installation, they get an Eight19 solar panel that connects into the IndiGo device.  The gist of the system is this:  without the customer “topping up” their IndiGo device via their cell phone, the device doesn’t charge the battery inside the device.  From the IndiGo website:

IndiGo is an affordable solar lighting and battery charging system that brings low cost energy to off-grid communities. With IndiGo, users put credit on their solar cell, just as they would on a mobile phone. Power from the cell then charges the  battery in the IndiGo box, making electricity available for lighting or charging other devices, such as mobile phones. The top-up codes are sent securely to owners’ mobile phones as text messages. Without the codes, the system does not generate electricity.  The IndiGo 2.5W solar home lighting and charging system includes: A solar panel and IndiGo box with a charge controller and battery; an LED lamp; an adapter lead for most popular mobile phones; connecting cables; and two, one-day top-up cards.

For most Americans who haven’t been overseas or in Canada, with pre-paid cell phones, you buy minutes on what’s commonly called a Top-Up card.  No different than the ones in the USA, they’re based on minutes, all that.

So the idea here is that people in South Kenya will not have to use kerosene lamps inside their places at night to do what they have to do needing illumination.  This is a tremendous thing; one of the biggest increases of our technological development has been increasing the CRI of the light we use to do things like read and develop.  With this implementation, the people in South Kenya will be getting  some seriously higher CRI than kerosene-powered sources.  This cannot be a bad thing, right?  Hell no.  People that live in kenya are no different than people who go to Yale.  They have the same potential as all of the rest of us, especially when given the opportunity to grow with the rest of the world.  No matter where you grow up, as long as you are given the opportunity to develop, you will succeed, especially if you apply yourself.

Something that I found interesting was found in the comments of the excellent CleanTechnica article on the IndiGo system.  A user named Bob_Wallace (THE Bob Wallace? Or the Shareware guy? I kid, I have no idea) posted some email exchanges he had with Simon from Eight19.  The bolded markings are things I’d like you to pay close attention to in the paragraph:

“The cost and payoff time varies a little by country as you would expect (for example there are variations in transport costs, distribution costs and local taxes between locations). In Kenya the weekly fee is 100KSH (approx $1.10) for our “duo” product with 2 lights and phone charging.

After a period of time, the product is deemed to be paid up and the customer has the option to buy the product out for a small fee or upgrade to a larger system. Again, this period varies a little between country but is normally between 18 and 24 months.

Our initial estimates suggest that typical users save in excess of $2/week with the kerosene and phone charging costs they save, with some users saving much more than this.”

In reply to a question about how upgrades work…

“People return the old system and get a new one (with the exception of the lights/wiring unless it needs replacement, as it is pointless to take down old one only to put the same thing back). We then refurbish and reintroduce the old systems. The weekly fee for the new larger systems takes into account the fact that we have recovered some value from the old system so they pay less than if we had to cover the full cost of the new system.”

Rough math says that Eight19 is able to get people in ownership of a basic lighting/phone charging system for somewhere just above $100US.

($1.10 x 52 weeks x 2 years = $114.40)

After two years they should have free power for a few years. The battery will need to be replaced after a few years and the LEDs after several. The panel should last a lifetime or more.

This is something to check out – basically a person using the IndiGo system uses it for about two years before they’ve paid it off, at the tune of about $114.40 USD.  The figure is for their “duo” product with two lights and a phone charger that has several charger tips for different phones.  After two years they have a few years of free solar electricity conversion.  Now granted it’s only at about two watts, but it’s free where before they’d have to pay to get kerosene to charge their stuff and see in the dark.  I think this is a pretty cool idea, as does the organization SolarAid, who has partnered with Eight19 to do this project in South Kenya.  From the SolarAid press release on the subject:

Thanks to the work of SolarAid and other players in the sector over the last few years, solar lights and phone chargers have been available for some time across Africa, but the initial cost is beyond the reach of many potential customers. By offering solar power as a service, without high purchase costs, these customers can now access clean electricity for less than their current spend on kerosene. But more than this, the availability of affordable electricity stimulates social and economic development too.

I think this is a pretty cool thing that’s happening.  When you think of the costs though, I think you should just remember that the Kenyans aren’t paying in USD.  One Kenyan Shilling (KES) is worth about 1.2 pennies USD.  Consider that when you consider the cost.  For example, right now a watt of solar if you just buy the photovoltaic panel is between $2.19 USD/W (for a 60W panel) up to $5.44 USD/W (for a 130W panel).  With the rest of the gear you’ll have to buy (cables, batteries, control), you’re looking at about $8.00 USD per watt of generated electricity.  I mean, come on though – after about the first six months, collecting solar using a device and a PV panel rather than taking it from a grid situation is going to pay for itself.  The sun is free, kids.  When some company or some government starts saying hey dummies!  we’re going to charge you for solar power by making you pay us for collecting it, then I am going to freak out and be really loud about it to the world, and then the world needs to kick some corporate or government tail.  Right now, no matter where you are, you’re paying for the devices that help you collect and store electricity, not for the solar energy itself  A lot of people make cracks online about how “solar should be free,” and they are totally right.  There is nothing that stops you from inventing your own solar collecting system for your own usage; money perhaps, but as long as we’re Capitalists, money will always be an issue.  Eight19 is a company, and they’re doing what a company does, and their particular skill is making and selling solar power collecting systems.  The power companies have done the same thing essentially, you’re just paying for them to make the power, and using their lines for them to get it to you.  In the US, we pay for this power from them by the kilowatt-hour, at an average of $0.118 per 1000W/h.

What do you think?  Do the costs add up?  The prices in Kenya are about comparable to American prices according to Numbeo, if not maybe a bit cheaper overall on average.

Thanks to USEIA, IndiGo Off-the-Grid, The Times, Triple Pundit, and Numbeo!