Stand-alone photovoltaic systems provide a potentially sustainable option for rural electrification, but the design and management of these systems is a challenge. Here we examine the ability of dynamic (real-time) pricing in off-grid systems to improve the durability of the batteries used to store power. In a randomized controlled trial with a pre-paid solar micro-grid in rural India, we found that dynamic pricing did not improve technical performance or customer satisfaction. The best explanation for the null finding is that, for various reasons, households minimized their power consumption and there was thus little need for demand management. These findings suggest that the low demand for power is a key challenge for the profitability of pre-paid off-grid systems.