technical information

battery manufacturers

case studies

Automotive lead-acid batteries are a low-cost first step for powering TVs, lights and radios in rural households and businesses. In the IGAD region, hundreds of thousands of households already use lead-acid batteries to power TVs and sound systems. Although solar home systems provide better levels of service than batteries, many people choose batteries because they are a cheap first step to gain use of appliances.

A 20 Ah battery developed for use with small systems

In practice, automotive or "solar" batteries are taken to central charging stations at regular intervals, usually once or twice every two weeks. Television is a driving force for people to use car batteries - powering television in a non-grid-serviced area can only be done with a battery or a generator.

There are a number of lead-acid battery technologies available in the region:


  • Automotive (SLI) batteries are poorly suited to household power applications because of thin plates and poor cycling capability. However, they are low-cost and widely used.

  • Modified lorry batteries (often called 'solar' or TV batteries) have longer life than SLI batteries and can be made in conventional battery factories.

  • Tubular plate batteries, though more expensive, are better suited to requirements of rural households.

The main difference between automotive and deep cycle batteries is that the former is designed to provide large currents for a very short duration (e.g. when starting an engine) while the latter is designed to provide relatively low currents for a longer duration (as in solar home systems)

Uses of power

  • Lighting
  • Television
  • Radio/stereo
  • DC appliances

Appliances, small tools, audio-visual equipment, blenders, and lamps are all available for DC application. They are usually more expensive than their AC powered equivalent, and are generally not available in the IGAD region. This is the result of economies of scale and size of anticipated market, but could be overcome as markets develop over time. A wider choice of DC appliances is a pre-requisite to development of solar PV and HH battery markets.

Return to Household Energy Options page