A broad variety of Pico PV products are available in local markets of developing countries nowadays. However, a large portion of these products are not considered of good quality and as a result, end-users are not prepared for the investment of buying these products. Therefore, technical failures or deterioration are important parameters that international programmes recommend to analyse. But also, awareness campaigns and training, information supply for end-users, introduction of voluntary or forced parameters of security and warranty of the products that play an important role for proper use.
Objective: Bearing in mind the previous details, the objective of this study was to analyse parameters of performance of Pico PV systems in a proper scientific way in order to deliver information regarding technical issues.
Methodology: Firstly, a field research was used as a tool to analyse the performance of different Pico PV systems in order to observe the current state of the electrical and electronic components after use under real conditions. This was done by visiting households and using survey forms to be filled by end-users living in three different locations of rural areas of Peru. Further, laboratory tests were implemented in order to investigate the current state of Pico PV lamps. Three different types of Pico PV systems were analysed in a case study. The three types of lamps were evaluated under the same conditions and testing protocol. The Pico PV lamps considered for the study had been used for more than 20 months in rural areas. Testing protocols suggested for the evaluation were: IEC/TS62257-9-5 (Lighting Global/IFC 2013) for electrical analysis; IEC60598 and IEC62262 tests protocols for the mechanical analysis.
Results: The current state of these Pico PV products under detailed electrical (batteries’ energy and capacity, etc.); mechanical (IP and IK rating after use) and optical (luminous flux, colour temperature, etc.) measurement was determined to analyse and identify the causes and reasons for their deterioration. The causes of failures of the systems before the nominal warranty time expired were determined bearing in mind that the devices typically had an appropriate performance considering the time of use.
Conclusions: From the total sample number, the devices had a 55% failure rate concerning end-user’s intervention, a 33% failure rate due to technical failure and 12% of the systems did not report failures. It was determined that in order to reach the minimum 2 years of use, PV panels should be able to operate for at least the same lifetime as the lamp. End-users should charge the lamp, ideally with a daily sun charge of 8 hours per day, keeping in mind that only one function at a time should be made, e.g. lighting or cell phone charging.
With the research portion of the study, it was possible to establish that for an overall evaluation of Pico PV lamps after use in real conditions, is necessary to implement the technical evaluation of the components of the Pico PV systems but also to consider the influence of end-user’s behaviour.