Innovation Challenge: Household Appliances


Calling organisations based in the North of Tyne who are working with household electrics and appliances

The challenge overview

There are an estimated 356 households in Northumberland living without access to mains electricity. Many of these households do not live this way by choice. 

The people that we’ve spoken to would like to live without the constant worry, extra costs and social exclusion that a lack of reliable electricity brings.

At the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project, we’re aiming to help to solve some of these issues by engaging with businesses, entrepreneurs and other organisations that can help to provide solutions.

Some of the problems

Household appliances don’t last
When powered by solar, wind and diesel generators, or a mix of electricity supplies, household appliances, such as fridges, freezers and washing machines tend to break down more often. 

This is because the electricity supply is not as consistent and reliable as that coming from the National Grid.

Digital appliances malfunction
Due to fluctuating voltages, digital appliances often malfunction. For example spin cycles on washing machines cause the machine to show errors. Water pump speeds and the brightness of lights vary, which has a negative impact on the product and causes problems for people using them. 

LED lights become damaged
Again, due to the fluctuation in power supply, the lifespan of LED lighting is significantly reduced. Some LED lights only last for 6 months, when they should have a lifespan of years. 

Inverter problems
High powered appliances like microwaves and kettles cause spikes in voltage which then causes problems with inverters.

How you can help

We are looking for organisations who can help develop products that will help to overcome these issues.

If you’re a North of Tyne organisation, sign up to get involved.

Some of the benefits of getting involved in this challenge:

  • Intensive support from within our team to develop a solution
  • Access to external support and consultancy on technical issues
  • Access to potential market by sharing viable solutions with potential customers
  • Help to access other sources of funding and support, including grants and investment finance

By utilising this challenge-based approach, we are hoping we can make the lives of people in rural Northumberland better, while creating solutions that can be taken forward by your organisation and potentially rolled out globally.

Register to get involved

If you think you can help with this challenge, please register your interest by emailing with the following details: 

  • Name
  • Organisation
  • Preferred contact details