Evaluating Appliance Performance in the Field: Results from Remote Monitoring Solutions Beta Testing

Efficiency for Access beta-tested remote performance monitors to develop an ideal solution that monitors the technical performance of solar refrigerators, solar water pumps and solar milking machines in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Senegal and India.

The off-grid appliance space, especially for larger productive use appliances, has not caught up with the conventional on-grid market. However, advancements, such as reduced prices of solar power modules, have led to new and more powerful solar-powered appliances becoming more widely available. But as these appliance enter new markets, asset owners, investors, companies, donors, researchers and industry support organisations must evaluate and compare product performance and impact. Efforts to bridge the existing information gaps include:

  • Monitoring energy production
  • Measuring energy utilisation by connected electrical products
  • Monitoring the delivered service to quantify the impact of the products.

It is becoming common practice to assess the technical performance of off-grid appliances through laboratory testing programs like VeraSol and the Global LEAP Awards. Lab testing, however, has limitations in determining the full spectrum of product performance, especially where user interaction is a significant factor. To address this, remote monitoring systems can evaluate the long-term performance of off-grid appliances in the field as consumers use and interact with products. This report details beta testing of remote monitoring solutions to gather data on solar refrigerators, solar water pumps and solar milking machines usage and optimise product performance.

Key takeaways include:

  • Beta testing is essential for a smooth monitoring process and ensures that the data collected meets the required accuracy and utility conditions
  • A one-size-fits-all monitoring solution is not suitable for appliances with different testing needs and complexity; therefore, field testing monitoring solutions will require customisation
  • Understanding the network providers’ landscape in the target countries is crucial in developing an adaptable solution that can work even in areas with poor connectivity