Access to Cooling

Cooling technologies are increasingly essential for health, productivity, and survival


Refrigeration provides a wide range of benefits, from improving human health and productivity, to reducing the domestic burden on women and children, who are usually responsible for food gathering and preparation.

Outside of home use, refrigeration is indispensable in hospitals and clinics – especially for vaccine storage –and it also enables income-generating activities for small retailers and other value chain actors through the storage of cold drinks, food, and other perishable items for later sale.

Refrigerators, however, are one of the most challenging off-grid appliances to design and develop to be both energy efficient and cost-effective. Therefore, the global market remains in the early stages of development.

The energy consumption of an average conventional refrigerator compressor currently can only be supported by the largest available off-grid solar systems. Some super-efficient refrigerators are now being designed explicitly for off- and weak-grid settings to consume less energy, some as low as 0.1 kWh per day.

If efficient, appropriately-priced products become accessible to all households that have the purchasing power to buy a refrigerator, spending could increase from $75 million today to $1.1 billion by 2020, even despite lower per-unit costs.



Beyond basic comfort and productivity, access to cooling appliances like fans can reduce mortality and morbidity during severe heat waves and increase overall health during sweltering summer months.

Fans are in high demand among off- and weak-grid consumers. However, mainstream off- and weak-grid fans still consume too much energy – sometimes over 10 times as much energy as lighting technology in the same setting. Super-efficient, high-quality fans designed for use with off-grid energy systems provide the service that customers demand without exhausting energy supply.

Recent technology advancements and design improvements, such as brushless DC motors, could cut fan energy consumption by 50%. Improvements in price and efficiency can be expected to unlock and enable further demand.

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