Solar Home System (SHS) Costs

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This page serves to document composition and prices of solar home systems (SHSs) around the world.

Costs of and Subsidies for Solar Home Systems(SHS)

Comparison of Costs and Subsidies of SHS in Different Programmes and Projects:

Country / programme Panel size [Wp] Investment
Customer price [EUR] Share of direct subsidies Source and date of information
EnDev Nicaragua
75-85 380 290 25% EnDev monitoring system, 12/2013
EnDev Honduras 30
355 82 77% EnDev monitoring system, 12/2013
EnDev Bangladesh
341 290 15%
EnDev Bangladesh II
142-149 98-115 19-34%
EnDev Uganda
420 420 0%2
EnDev Senegal
498 30 connection, 6 per month 70%
GIZ Tansania
200 200 0%
Roshan Pakistan 40
 ?? 4,10 connection, 1,76 per month 100%
Solarstiftung Äthiopien 10
200 connection free, 0,17 per month 100%
Sunlabob Laos 20
 ??  ?? connection, 2,5 per month 0%3
Sri Lanka RERED 30
372-437 310-375 14-17%
EnDev Burundi 120 - 170 1200 - 1300 240 - 429 80 - 67%

For an evaluation of these economic data, information on the quality and sustainability of the SHS, as well as on O&M and services has to be collected. In addition, it has to be checked to what extent the target group of the poorer rural population could be reached within the different projects.[1]

The Solar Energy Foundation, Ethiopia

The Solar Energy Foundation (Stiftung Solarenergie) has developed a small solar-home-system (SHS) with a 10 Wp Photovoltaic (PV) module for rural electrification in Ethiopia. The basic ‘SunTransfer 10’ system developed by the Solar Energy Foundation uses a 10 Wp SunTransfer PV module, and an 18 Ah maintenance-free gel type lead-acid battery. This combination is designed to provide light for a minimum of four hours per day, with the possibility of connecting a radio or music system for short periods as well. The battery is expected to last for five years if used carefully. The PV module and charge controller are expected to last more than 10 years. The current system has up to four light-emitting-diode (LED) lamps, although some earlier units used compact fluorescent lamps. A much brighter LED (80 lumen rather than 25) has recently become available, and this will be used in future systems. The innovative charge controller was designed to allow the systems to be disabled remotely by a local technician, as a last resort if the user does not pay the rental costs. The battery and charge controller are housed in a sealed box, which needs a special tool to open it.[2]

Each SHS costs 3000 ETB (about 167 €, September 2009), including manufacturing and installation, divided approximately:

10 Wp PV module
15% 450 ETB 25 €
18 Ah gel-type lead-acid battery
20% 600 ETB 33 €
Charge controller with payment function and data logger 25% 750 ETB 42 €
Lamps 15% 450 ETB 25 €
Cable, box, plugs, user book, fixings, manufacturing, installation 25% 750 ETB 42 €

The capital cost of the systems installed in Rema and its neighbouring village of Rema ena Dire were financed by donor funds. However, households must pay a monthly fee of between 10 and 14 ETB (0,66 € and 0,78 €, September, 2009) depending on the number of lamps in their system. The charge is divided into two parts: a basic fee which is used to pay the local technicians for regular maintenance work, and a further fee to pay for replacement parts such as the battery and LEDs. In future villages, owners will also pay for the capital cost of the system, either directly or through a loan over one to three years. A revolving capital fund is being set up to cover the purchase of further SHS units and allow the programme to become self supporting. Loan repayments will be set at about 80 to 150 ETB (4,45 to 8,34 €, September 2009) per month. This charge is similar to the energy costs which are avoided by having an SHS. Surveys by the Foundation suggest that families in rural areas of Ethiopia spend about 60 to 90 ETB (3,33 to 5,01 €, September, 2009) on kerosene, and 20 to 80 ETB (1,11 to 4,45 €, September, 2009) on dry cell batteries, each month. [2]

Cost Analysis

Assuming that the solar panel lasts 10 years, the battery five years and all the lamps are changed after five years as well, the total system costs about 34 ETB (1,89 €) per month over a period of ten years. Regular maintenance costs and possible change of cables and fitting are not considered in this example, but compared to monthly expenses on kerosene and dry cell batteries, the price is quite low. Even if the battery was changed three times within ten years, the monthly cost would only be 39 ETB (2,17 €, September, 2009), still less than the amount usually spent on kerosene. This is of course no detailed analysis. In reality, other influencing factors have to be considered: market prices change, the LED lights might be changed more often or even not be change at all, etc. Regular maintenance costs and possible change of cables and fitting have to be considered as well. Even so it can be seen that SHS have the potential to be a competitive alternative to kerosene and dry cell batteries. However, it has to be kept in mind that SHS owners still spend money on kerosene and dry cell batteries, so that monthly energy expenditures might even rise. Down payment for the SHS installation and monthly loan repayment might be an obstacle for poorer households, that could prefer to buy batteries or kerosene on an irregular basis, whenever their financial situation allows it.

Solar Home System (SHS) in Rural Bangladesh[3]

In his diploma thesis "Electricity and Sustainable Development: Impacts of Solar Home Systems in Rural Bangladesh" Michael Blunck shows that the expenditures on a SHS for lighting purposes exceed those on kerosene even over a period of twenty years. The initial installments costs and accumumaltive monthly loan repayments are usually far higher than expenses on kerosene for lamps. The household survey conducted in 2006 revealed that in most cases overall expenses on the SHS would not amortise over a period of twenty years. Households without a SHS would have average accumulative lighting expenditures of 29,040 BDT whereas households with a SHS would have expenditures of 50,670 BDT.

Further Information


  1. SiNERGi
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ashden Awards Case Study. 2009. Case study summary. Solar Energy Foundation (SEF), Ethiopia:
  3. Blunck, Michael (2007): Electricity and Sustainable Development: Impacts of Solar Home Systems in Rural Bangladesh, Diploma Thesis, Mainz, pp. 89-91.