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2021 Appliance Data Trends Report Shows Promising Improvements in Off-Grid Appliance Energy Efficiency

A new report from Efficiency for Access finds the performance of off-grid appropriate appliances has improved, with the most drastic shifts in near-to-market product categories.

Appliance energy efficiency and pricing data are important indicators of the overall health, maturity, potential of the off-grid appliance market. Continued improvements in energy efficiency and price enable bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers to access and power a wider array of appliances capable of improving quality of life and income potential.

A new report from Efficiency for Access finds the performance and cost of off-grid appliances have improved over a five-year period, with the most drastic shifts in near-to-market product categories. Off-grid appropriate televisions are 48% more efficient and 44% cheaper than models tested in 2016, despite increases in screen size. Similarly, fans are 49% more efficient than models assessed two years ago, with some models 2-3 times more efficient than conventional models sold in Europe.

The report also finds emerging off-grid appliances and productive use equipment are gaining market traction, but further performance and cost improvements are needed to achieve scale. Off-grid refrigerator efficiency improved 36% over a two-year period and some of the models tested were more than twice as efficient as conventional, on-grid refrigerators. However, high prices and low sales are making it challenging for companies to achieve economies of scale. For half of off-grid customers, the average cost of a refrigerator or solar water pump ranges from 3-5 times their annual budget for energy and appliances.

Efficiency improvements alone may not be sufficient to drive down high appliance prices. Addressing high taxes, duties, and costs along the value chain and expanding consumer financing may help make larger appliances more accessible to consumers. Expanding quality assurance frameworks for appliances, transitioning to energy-efficient permanent magnet motors, and enhancing effort to address product interoperability will also be critical to catalyse the market toward maturity.

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