The battery box is an essential part of our electrification solution. This approach allows for a centralised power production facility, our energy kiosks, and distribute the electricity for consumption using the boxes. This reduces significantly the infrastructure cost associated with a conventional grid. This is also applicable for the standalone solution.
Since e.quinox started in 2009, we have been through a few designs, all based on the lessons learnt from previous models.
First Generation 2009
Our first battery box offered 12V DC to run appliances such as light bulbs, radios and mobile telephones. However, during our implementation phase in September 2009, we noticed that interfacing some of the appliances proved to be very difficult. We noticed that 12V DC with our specialised plug proved to not allow the degree of flexibility conventional grid offers. It is important to remember that the target market are people that earn least in the world and their expected load profile can be estimated to be 40Wpeak.
Second Generation 2010
To extend the variety of appliances that can be used with the box, an inverter was integrated. Having a standard 230V AC plug allowed our customers 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, and to this end, the 4th generation boxes only have 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 means e.quinox started exploring the exciting prospect of local manufacturing. 200 boxes were manufactured in Rwanda during this summer’s expedition, sourcing the majority of the materials locally and using local labour. This project has 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.
A lot of lessons learnt has been leant during the implementation in 2012, and this year, the team is working on a new design, which will simplify the manufacturing process, and also increase the safety and reliability of the boxes.