Public Review & Comment: Draft Quality Requirements for VeraSol Certification of Off-Grid Solar Refrigerators
Refrigerators have the potential to unlock a wide range of social and economic benefits for people living in off- and weak-grid areas, from reducing food waste to enhancing income through new business opportunities.
Despite the potential, the off-grid solar refrigerator market is still relatively underdeveloped, with only 4% of rural households in sub-Saharan Africa owning a refrigerator. The market is characterized by products with varying levels of quality and durability – some are well-designed and manufactured for the intended environment, while some fall short of consumer expectations. Further, a refrigerator is a significant investment for average off-grid families, and poor-quality products could be financially devastating for the consumer and harm the reputation of solar products.
Lately, governments, multilateral development banks, bilateral donors and climate funds have increased their efforts to accelerate access to cooling. Market actors, including financiers and development institutions, need a consistent way to compare and identify high-quality products.
Since 2010, VeraSol—formerly Lighting Global Quality Assurance—has developed and maintained a set of quality standards for pico-solar and solar energy kits. These quality standards define the baseline level of quality and performance to protect buyers and better serve consumers. Stakeholders such as national governments, procurement programs, and others have adopted these standards to keep sub-standard products out of the market and ensure that the products they support are high-quality. In addition, VeraSol evaluates off-grid solar products based on internationally recognized quality standards and certify products that meet all the requirements of quality, safety, and truth in advertising. VeraSol certification enables market stakeholders to easily distinguish high-quality products from others.
VeraSol is responding to evolving needs of the off-grid solar market by developing quality standards for off-grid refrigerators. Once these standards are finalized, VeraSol intends to start certifying standalone solar refrigerators and refrigerators that are packaged and sold with solar energy systems under 350 Wp. This serves as an important milestone for VeraSol to expand its certification scheme beyond small household appliances and unlock future certification services for a wide range of solar-powered productive use appliances and equipment.
The draft VeraSol program policy, Requirements for VeraSol Certification of Refrigerators, addresses four core elements of product quality: truth in advertising, health and safety, durability, and consumer protection. These requirements are applicable to refrigerators that are intended to be used on or compatible with off-grid energy systems, such as solar energy kits and AC or DC mini-grids.
VeraSol’s quality standards and certification have been a cornerstone for market actors to validate the quality of products. To make our process robust and effective, VeraSol needs your help to make the draft requirements for refrigerators relevant and appropriate to your business or program. The draft Requirements for VeraSol Certification of Refrigerators is now available online for public review and comment. The current review period starts on March 23 and ends on April 29, 2022. VeraSol is hosting an informational webinar on March 31 at 11.00 EDT/18.00 EAT to present the draft VeraSol policy for certifying refrigerators, followed by a Q&A discussion. Register for the webinar.
We strongly encourage manufacturers, distributors, development program partners, and all market stakeholders across the value chain to participate in the webinar to learn more and provide feedback.
Access the draft Requirements for VeraSol Certification for Refrigerators (in PDF).
Use the feedback form to provide general comments as well as responses to specific questions.
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All comments should be submitted by 10 PM ET on April 29, 2022.