The battery box was is an essential part of a rural electrification solution. Battery boxes allow for a centralised power production facility, like the energy kiosks, and provide an easy mean of distributing the electricity for consumption. This reduces the infrastructure cost associated with a conventional grid significantly.
First Generation 2009
The first battery box offered 12V DC to run appliances such as light bulbs, radios and mobile telephones. However, during the implementation phase in September 2009, it was found that interfacing some of the appliances proved to be very difficult. The 12V DC battery did not allow the degree of flexibility conventional grid offered. Additionally, the expected load profile was estimated to be 40W peak.
Second Generation 2010
To extend the variety of appliances that can be used with battery boxes box, an inverter was integrated into the design in the second generation boxes. With a 230V AC, customers were able to use AC lighting as well as all other standard low power appliances. The second generation box was decreased in size and weight to increase handiness.
Third Generation 2011
Problems concerning the inverter and the AC lighting in the second generation lead to a third box that combines the advantages of the previous models and minimises the weaknesses. Returning to the DC lighting uses less energy and the inverter is switched on only if needed.
Fourth Generation 2012
Research has shown that the main uses for the battery box are lighting and phone-charging the 4th and final generation of the boxes only had 2 DC outputs. One 12V output for the lights, and one 5V USB output for phone charging. This eliminates the need for an inverter, which in the past has proven one of the more expensive and most unreliable components of the design.
The simple design meant e.quinox started exploring the exciting prospect of local manufacturing. 200 boxes were manufactured in Rwanda during the 2012 summer expedition, sourcing the majority of the materials locally and using local labour. This project had the dual benefit of supporting the local economy through the use of local resources, and spreading the knowledge of the battery boxes to the local population.