The Real Cost of Compromising on Quality: Insights from Pakistan’s Solar Street Light Scandal

the real cost of compromising on quality insights from pakistan’s solar street light scandal

In the past few years, there has been a rise in the use of solar streetlights in various infrastructure projects around the world. These lights offer many benefits, including cost savings on electricity bills and reduced carbon emissions. However, with this rapid increase in demand, there have been cases of poor-quality products being used, resulting in frequent outages and higher maintenance costs.

Another factory agreed to the 900 RMB price and even offered a 200 RMB kickback per unit to the official. This effectively reduced the cost to 700 RMB per unit. The factory managed this by using inferior materials.

The result was predictable. Nearly all 40,000 solar street lights failed within six months. The official involved was arrested and has been in jail ever since. This incident highlights a crucial lesson: never prioritize cost over quality.

The True Cost of Cheap Solar Lights

It’s tempting to opt for the cheapest products. However, cheap often turns out to be more expensive in the long run. Here’s a comparison:

  • A high-quality solar light costs $300 and lasts up to 10 years, resulting in an annual cost of $30.
  • A low-quality solar light costs $100 but only lasts one year, resulting in an annual cost of $100.

Obviously, the cheaper option isn’t cost-effective over time.   Cost Analysis of Solar Lights

Why Quality Matters in Solar Street Lights

Battery Life

The battery type used in solar street lights is crucial. Here’s a comparison:

  • A-class LiFePO4 Lithium: Best performance and longest lifespan.
  • B-class LiFePO4 Lithium: Slightly lower quality but still reliable.
  • Ternary Li-ion Lithium(NCM): Suitable for areas with less sunlight.
  • Broken Lithium Batteries: Often repurposed from electric vehicles, these have a lifespan of less than a year.
battery life comparison
Battery Life Comparison

Over 90% of manufacturers use broken lithium batteries to cut costs. For durability and reliability, choose A-class or B-class LiFePO4 batteries. They may be more expensive initially, but their extended lifespan makes them cost-effective in the long run.

Solar Panel Size and Efficiency

The size and efficiency of solar panels directly affect performance. Larger panels with higher load capacities can better handle cloudy conditions and ensure consistent brightness. Key points to consider:

  • Large Solar Panel Size: Ensures high load power and capacity, increasing efficiency and providing enough power even on cloudy days.
  • Small, Low-Quality Panels: Often have configurations less than 2.5 times the load power, leading to frequent outages.
pv performance guarantee 1
PV Solar Panel Performance Guarantee

Lessons from the Scandal

Long-term Benefits of Quality

Investing in high-quality materials and reliable suppliers is crucial. Durable products reduce maintenance needs, lower replacement costs, and ensure reliable performance. This approach saves money over time and builds trust in infrastructure projects.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Procurement

When purchasing solar street lights, it’s crucial to prioritize quality and reliability. Thoroughly vet suppliers, understand the materials used, and consider long-term costs to avoid cutting corners, prevent costly mistakes, and ensure project success.

solar street light operation mode and lighting schedule
solar street light operation mode and lighting schedule

Don’t just look at the parameters  

When procuring solar street lights, it is important to thoroughly vet suppliers and understand the materials used in their products. This means going beyond just looking at advertised specifications and doing research on the actual components being used. For example, a supplier may claim that their battery has a capacity of 100Ah, but in reality, it may only have a capacity of 10Ah. It is also important to note that different grades of batteries can have varying levels of available capacity even with the same advertised capacity.

Another factor to consider when purchasing solar street lights is to not solely rely on parameters such as wattage. Some suppliers may label their street light as 60W while others may label it as 300W.


The lesson from Pakistan’s solar street lamp project is clear: never sacrifice quality for cost. Investing in high-quality materials and reliable suppliers is crucial for long-term success. By learning from past mistakes, we can ensure future projects bring the intended benefits without unforeseen complications.

By following these guidelines and prioritizing quality in procurement, we can avoid the pitfalls that led to the failure of Pakistan’s project and ensure the success of our initiatives. Just send your inquiry, and our sales engineer will help you find the correct solar street light solution. You can also get full information from our other posts about solar lighting costs. What can you do to make your solar lights last longer? 
How Much Do Solar Street Lights Cost?

best solar street light manufacturer in china
best solar street light manufacturer in china

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