Income Generating Appliances Study: Results and Video

Powering income generating appliances with high-penetration renewable energy systems is not straightforward. To tackle this challenge, we’re conducting a research effort to learn more about income generating appliances and their use in emerging markets.

Watch this short video to learn more about our work, or click here to view a PowerPoint slide deck about our findings :

In late 2017, we highlighted some of the challenges surrounding income-generating appliances in the blog post titled “The Problem with Productive Use Appliances“. In 2018, we conducted primary research and developed tools that the sector could use to garner much-needed information about these appliances; we’ll report on our work in full in a later blog post. (Update: new blog post from 2020 can be found here.)

However, some early results from our research are published on PEAK, a new energy access knowledge repository and database from our friends at Power for All. (You can also find the full report via the link at the bottom of this page.) We characterized three prominent income-generating appliances – a hand-built transformer-style welder, an electric grain-milling machine, and a solar water pump. We’ve tested and confirmed technical characteristics including efficiency, power factor, and peak power consumption to shed some light on the potential for these machines to be powered by remote, renewable energy systems. The performance of each appliance is captured in a specification sheet (below). The full interpretation of the results and our test methods are also available for download here: Laboratory Characterization of Income Generating Appliances.

Sincere thanks to Chris Lute, Research Engineer, and Dr. James Cale, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Department at Colorado State University and The Energy Institute, for working with Factor[e] to accomplish this testing.