Source/author : Efficiency for access
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Independent laboratory testing and evaluation helps assess the extent to which products meet their advertised performance claims and incorporate design elements that make the products appropriate for off-grid use. Standardized test methods that evaluate product design, quality, and energy performance enable consistent product-to-product comparisons.
However, few test methods are designed specifically to evaluate off- and weak-grid appropriate appliances. For example, appliances that are used with off-grid energy systems must be tolerant to constant voltage fluctuations from solar and battery systems, yet most test methods for grid-powered domestic appliances were not written with this particular factor in mind. To facilitate improved comparisons of such appliances, CLASP developed a set of test methods5 to evaluate energy performance, quality, and durability of appliances designed for off- and weak-grid settings:
Televisions are among the most desired appliances for households and businesses in off- and weak-grid areas.
A recent Efficiency for Access Coalition survey found that after lighting, TVs are the next most desired appliance by off-grid consumers.6 Consumer demand for TVs drives the demand for off-grid energy systems such as solar home systems (SHSs) and mini-grids. Therefore, scaling the global off-grid TV market can contribute to a significant increase in the market penetration of off-grid power systems.
TVs can unlock significant social and economic impacts, serving purposes beyond mere entertainment. For communities in rural areas, especially women and children who have less opportunity to access information, TVs are a conduit for national, regional, and global information and perspectives. Though traditionally not considered an income-generating appliance, many business owners and entrepreneurs use them for commercial purposes (e.g. restaurant and café owners). Field research by the Efficiency for Access Coalition also indicates that, with the increasing availability of larger TVs, they can inspire the development of new businesses such as village theaters. In a recent Efficiency for Access survey, TVs were ranked second highest in perceived consumer demand, fifth in potential impact out of 18 categories for household uses, and were included in the top-ten appliances for businesses.
The market for off- and weak-grid appropriate TVs remains nascent and inhibited by various market barriers, despites the market for on-grid TVs being highly developed and commoditized. The off-grid TV market is becoming more competitive, but the pool of TV component suppliers, such as screens, remains limited. There is less and less flexibility for product manufacturers to reduce costs or differentiate their products, and without consumer financing, the average off-grid customer’s ability to pay still remains too low to afford a TV in many instances. This interplay between cost and efficiency is key: recent estimates suggest that with efficiency and design improvements, the annual global market for off-grid-compatible TVs could more than triple—from 1 to 3.1 billion USD—while also reducing costs.