Solar micro-grids are receiving increasing interest in the electrification in emerging economies. On-site performance studies of these systems have become more important as the global market is being supplied with an ever-greater variety of solar power equipment with inconsistent quality. We studied the reliability of seven small identical low-power DC solar grids installed in real settings in villages in rural northern India. A detailed analysis of measurement data, interviews and field visits over a whole year showed that solar electricity was available to the households for 87% of the time. Along with technical problems, a share of the power shortages was an indirect cause of an illegal behaviour of users. The study draws attention to quality recommendations for energy access for consumers with modest energy needs.