Powering a Home with Just 25Watts of Solar PV: Super-Efficient Appliances Can Enable Expanded Off-Grid Energy Service Using Small Solar Power Systems
Highly efficient direct current (DC) appliances have the potential to dramatically increase the affordability of off-grid solar power systems used for rural electrification in developing countries by reducing the size of the systems required. For example, the combined power requirement of a highly efficient color TV, four DC light emitting diode (LED) lamps, a mobile phone charger, and a radio is approximately 18 watts and can be supported by a small solar power system (at 27 watts peak, Wp). Price declines and efficiency advances in LED technology are already enabling rapidly increased use of small off-grid lighting systems in Africa and Asia. Similar progress is also possible for larger household-scale solar home systems that power appliances such as lights, TVs, fans, radios, and mobile phones. When super-efficient appliances are used, the total cost of solar home systems and their associated appliances can be reduced by as much as 50%. The results vary according to the appliances used with the system. These findings have critical relevance for efforts to provide modern energy services to the 1.2 billion people worldwide without access to the electrical grid and one billion more with unreliable access. However, policy and market support are needed to realize rapid adoption of super-efficient appliances.