Access to electrification in rural areas of East Timor is extremely limited with as few as 5% of rural households connected to electricity. The government of East Timor intends to increase rural access to electricity significantly in the coming decade. The introduction of small PV systems is envisaged for many households in the most remote areas. Several agencies have piloted the introduction of small solar home systems (SHS) and solar lanterns. In the Railaco sub-district of East Timor, some 1000 households have experience of using either SHS and/or solar lanterns and are in a unique position to indicate a preference regarding these forms of PV lighting technology. This paper reports on a survey of 76 households in Railaco investigating experience with PV lighting systems. Results of the survey indicate a strong preference by users for SHS rather than lanterns. The preference for SHS arose from a range of factors including: a perception of better light quality; ability to illuminate the whole house; reduced risk of damage to the PV equipment; and longer duration of nightly operation. The research indicates that where a single PV lighting system is provided, users are likely to prefer SHS to solar lanterns.
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