PV Solar Home Systems

Limitations

Technical Information

Case studies

One of the most common solar electric (PV) applications is the Solar Home Systems (SHS). SHSs often offer the most cost-effective mode of supplying amenity power for lighting and entertainment to remote off-grid households. Worldwide, SHSs already provide power to hundreds of thousands of households in remote locations where electrification by the grid is not feasible.

SHS operate at 12 V and range in size from 10 Wp to 100 Wp. SHS include a number of critical components including:

  • PV modules (available in mono-, poly-crystalline and amorphous) which produce the power for the system.
  • Storage batteries which store energy for use when the sun is not shining;
  • Charge regulators, which distribute power and protect the batteries and appliances from damage;
  • End use appliances such as TV's, fluorescent lamps, and radios;
  • Cables switches, mounts, and structural parts.
  • Inverters, which change 12V power to 240VAC power for larger appliances.

Performance of SHSs depends on the amount of solar irradiation received, and this varies by location and season. For this reason, systems normally need to be carefully designed. As well, due to need for correlation of PV energy production and household energy consumption, proper system and battery storage sizing is essential.

SHS are best used with efficient lights and appliances so as to limit the size of the array.

Groups like the World Bank, the European Union, and an increasing number of local power companies have realized the importance of SHSs and PV power in rural electrification programs. In Kenya, more than 100,000 households use SHSs. Both Uganda and Kenya have large PV programmes (UPPPRE in Uganda and PVMTI in Kenya) which are assisting to develop the SHS and PV market.

Typical systems costs are between US$ 165 for a 12Wp system and up to US$ 1,500 for a 100 Wp system.


Return to Household Energy Options page