Repairability

Grade A products are the easiest to repair.

We disassembled and analysed each device, awarding a repairability score between zero and fifty.

Why Repair?

We think that a good solar device is one that has been designed so that it can be easily repaired or reused. The ability to repair and reuse a solar device extends its lifespan, and ensures that those who cannot afford to purchase new or replacement devices can continue to use them. Repair shops are ubiquitous in rural and urban communities throughout Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. Repair technicians and resellers create jobs and commerce in the communities where the products are sold. The Off Grid Solar Scorecard evaluates solar products for attributes that are essential to a product’s reparability, reusability and resale value.

Battery Replacement

Points are deducted if the battery cannot be replaced. Batteries are typically the most fallible and hazardous component of off grid solar devices. Products that are designed in ways that allow the battery to be replaced or upgraded enable customers to extend the lifetime of their technology and improve performance and functionality. Proper battery labelling facilitates maintenance, operation and replacement and ensures safe, efficient recycling or disposal. 

Circuit Boards

Points are deducted if all the electronic components, such as fuses, resistors and capacitors, on the printed circuit board (PCB) are surface mounted. Circuit board components can be damaged and sometimes need to be replaced. Unlikes soldered components, surface mounted components cannot be replaced using tools available to technicians. This shortens the lifespan of the device, unless replacement circuit boards are made widely available by the manufacturers.  

Disassembly and Reassembly

Points are deducted if a product cannot be disassembled and reassembled without destroying the product? A product that is designed for repair can be opened-up and separated into components - disassembled - without destroying the product. Disassembly operations are defined as non-destructive, reversible actions that can be accomplished with relative ease, such as screwing and unscrewing.

Components

Points are deducted if components include more than five adhesive or soldered joints. The excessive use of glues, welding or non-reversible screws can prevent joints from being reconnected and can also result in the destruction of components when repair is attempted.

Tools

Points are deducted if disassembly and reassembly requires more than two screwdrivers. Points are also deducted if specialised tools are required to open the casing or remove components for repair. The most straightforward disassembly operations are those that require one or two commonly used tools, such as a slot head screwdriver or a Phillips head screwdriver. Product lifetimes can be extended by reducing the need for less commonly available screwdrivers, like the Torx, Allen wrench and Robertson. 

Time

Points are deducted for every three minutes that a device takes to disassemble. Products designed for dissassembly have fewer fastners and require fewer tools. Our criteria are based on typical dissassembly times for consumer electronic products in the UK, ranging from a computer keyboard (5 mins) to a photocopier (15 minutes).  

Access to information

Points are deducted if no information about how to dissassemble or repair a device is at the point of sale, or is not available to customers as part of an after sales service.