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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

We Need More Solar Canopies in Parking Lots in the South

Posted by SEPCO

4/17/14 9:30 AM

Solar_Canopies_in_Parking_LotsSEPCO is located in south Florida and it is hot almost year round here. One thing that I have noticed is gaining popularity is solar canopies to provide power to businesses. The other thing I have noticed is that there are not that many installations of solar canopies, at least not here in south Florida. As an advocate of solar and shade for our hot days, I would think that more businesses would install these types of systems. Think of all the benefits that a solar canopy in a parking lot could provide.

Solar Power to the Business

Solar power is free energy to the business. This can lower the overall grid power usage; therefore, lower electric bill. With Federal tax incentives, solar is a win-win for companies. The systems can also be customized to fit the architectural design of the company so that it blends well with the existing building. A lot of companies are starting to do this. Even Zoo's such as San Diego and Cincinnati are starting to take advantage of solar installed in parking lots for comfort of vititors while providing the electricity needed to run the zoo.

Shade for the Customers

With the hot sun beating down all day, shaded parking is a great way to keep your vehicle cooler. Shaded parking is sought after in the south as a car can heat up to over 110 degrees very quickly. This is harmful to the interior of the car and almost anything left inside. Even leaving the windows cracked does not help cool the car as much as shaded parking. (Please remember to never leave children or animals inside a parked car for any length of time no matter what!)

Power for Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular and many solar canopies can be integrated with a charger for these vehicles. While the person is inside the building, their car can charge by sunlight. What a great way to increase the benefit for stopping at that particular establishment.

Solar canopies allow businesses to take advantage of all that space in their parking lots to provide energy, an additional comfort to customers and power for electric vehicles that are gaining popularity. Why not install solar canopies, especially in the south, to take advantage of all the good that the sun can provide.

Img Credit: ASES

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Topics: Solar Power

Solar Car Park Lighting for Stress Free Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

4/15/14 9:30 AM

solar car park lightingEvery business and building has a car park area where lighting is necessary to provide safety to people and their vehicles. Sometimes the lighting can be an afterthought and forgotten till the concrete is laid. This is where solar car park lighting comes in to save the day.

Instead of digging up that parking lot, placing stand alone solar car park lighting systems can provide the needed lighting without the destruction of the area. Each system generates its own power for the light with all the equipment situated at the top of the pole. The only area that needs to be disturbed on the ground is where the pole is placed.

Solar car park lighting saves time and money by not having to dig up the site to lay down traditional electric wiring. Instead, installing an anchor base pole on a concrete foundation and installing the solar power assembly and light fixture on the top of the pole gives you light in less than a day, not weeks of digging and pouring new concrete.

If you are looking to reduce your overall energy costs with existing lighting, solar car park lighting can still be a great option. Grid intertie systems can put energy back into the grid during the day and use the grid power at night. There is even an option for a battery backup with grid intertie systems in case the area is prone to blackouts.

Finally, for new construction sites, if the grid power is not easily accessible, solar car park lighting systems can provide a savings from trenching in the electric and no grid power fees ever. Even if the power is easily accessible, solar lights are becoming a more popular alternative to showcase a green image and provide LEED certifications. And with the advances in technology, the systems are practically maintenance free. Making sure there is a good autonomy to the system provides longer battery life and with LEDs lasting for 15 years or so, there is almost never anything to replace.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

Solar Pavilion Lighting for Parks and Public Spaces

Posted by SEPCO

4/10/14 9:30 AM

Pavilions are installed in parks and public spaces to provide shelter and a great gathering area for people. In the early evenings, before the parks and public spaces close, there can be a need for lighting at these gatherings. Since most pavilions are located in an area with no electric power available, installing solar powered lights on the pavilions can be a great way to provide people the needed lighting while not disturbing the surrounding area trenching in standard electric.

Sunnyside-Park-1

Solar pavilion lighitng is an integrated unit that uses the solar panels installed on the roof to provide power directly to the battery assembly installed under the roof. The solar panels charge the batteries during the day and the light fixtures use the power at night. The battery assembly is typically mounted under the roof to provide shading to the batteries and making maintenance easy to achieve. The light fixture is mounted center of the pavilion or around the perimeter, depending on the needs of the system. This low profile design provides the best option for lighting needs to remote pavilions.

Sunnyside-Park-2

The fixtures can be either controlled by a dusk to dawn controller, but as most parks are not open all night, a spring loaded timer or set clock is the best option for these installations. Since the lights will not operate all night, the needed solar power assembly is much smaller than for applications where all night lighting is required. Specialty switch capabilities can also be installed for special events where the lights would need to stay on longer.

The pictures show an installation we have completed for a park in Kansas City, MO at a local park. The system runs four canopy fixtures all night for visitors to the park. These lights were installed in 2010 and show the perfect application for solar pavilion lighting as there is no nearby infrastructure. 

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Building Structure Lighting

Using Solar Outdoor Bollard Lighting for Pathways

Posted by SEPCO

4/8/14 9:30 AM

Solar Outdoor Bollard LightingA local park recently installed some solar outdoor bollard lights for their pathways around their park. These bollards light provide pathway lighting around the perimeter pedestrian walkway and add to the safety of this residential area. I wanted to provide you a good comparison of different style bollard systems for projects similar to this one.

You can find solar bollards that have the solar panel integrated into the top of the fixture with the battery storage inside the bollard themselves. These types of bollard lights are prone to vandalism as the solar panel is small and hard to protect. They are also typically not as bright and do not provide all night lighting. These systems are great for pathways that do not require much lighting and are used primarily for just path markers. If you find a system that will run all night, the lights are typically very dim and do not have much backup power for times of inclement weather. However, this type of bollard provides lighting and power all in one self-contained system.

You can also have a single solar power assembly powering multiple fixtures along a pathway. This can provide additional security for the solar as you can mount the solar high on a pole, out of harms-way. This design requires a little bit of trenching burying the wiring from the solar panel to each bollard on the string; however, there is still much less trenching than is required to bring in traditional grid power. The solar is typically sized for all night lighting with a bright LED lamp. The system also provides a minimum of five days backup power for times of inclement weather and to lessen the depth of discharge of the battery, extending the life of the system.

Depending on your needs for lighting, there is a system that will perfectly fit your requirements. Using bollards for low light applications where overhead lighting isn’t required is a great way to increase security while keeping with the style and architecture of the area.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Pathway Lighting

Stand Alone Solar Power Systems Provide Energy Security

Posted by SEPCO

4/3/14 9:30 AM

You may not realize this, but we rely on grid power for just about everything. If the grid fails, we are left in the dark, in more ways than one. Stand alone solar power systems provide reliable power and energy security for applications that cannot have failures.

Stand Alone Solar Power for Homes

Stand_Alone_Solar_Power_Systems_Provide_Energy_Security

Putting your home on an off grid solar power system is not feasible in most cases; however, having an off grid backup system can make a huge difference in many instances. It would be like having a backup generator without relying on gas, only the sun. If the power fails due to a natural disaster or grid interference, important equipment can still operate off the backup power stored in batteries. The batteries will recharge during the day and be able to keep going for quite some time.

 

 

Stand Alone Solar Power for Security Cameras

Solar-Camera-3Cameras need to be active for security at all times. If the grid fails, or someone cuts the power to the area for malicious reasons, security cameras cannot operate as needed. Instead, using off grid solar power for the camera systems will ensure their operation during these times. The solar will charge the batteries during the day to make sure the camera has enough power at night. Specialized cameras are designed to operate specifically from solar power, but have all the features of standard electric security camera systems.

 

 

Stand Alone Solar Power for Lighting

VA-Temple-TX-5Lighting can provide security to many applications. Making sure the lights are on when they are needed is important to ensuring the security measures are all in place. Stand alone solar powered light systems provide lighting no matter what is going on. They are specifically helpful during times of natural disasters such as hurricanes and blackouts or brownouts. The lights will operate seamlessly without additional power from the grid providing safety and security to the installation area.

 

 

Utilizing stand alone solar systems for backup or high security applications can ensure that no matter what the grid power is doing, there will always be power to the applications that matter the most. Remember, all you have to rely on is the sun to come up tomorrow to provide you power.

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Topics: Solar Power

What You Need To Know About Light Distribution Patterns

Posted by SEPCO

4/1/14 9:30 AM

Light-Distribution-PatternsThere are many different distribution patterns available with different lighting fixtures. Each distribution pattern provides a different lighting footprint on the ground to provide a light pattern for specific area light needs. The larger the distribution pattern, the larger area of light that is produced. Here is a quick overview of different lighting distributions.

Type II Distribution

Type II distributions provides a wide, round pattern  and is more suited for small streets and wide pathways. The fixture is placed in the center of where the light is required and the light is distributed in an oval type shape around the entire fixture area. The width of the light pattern on the ground is about 1.5 times wider than the mounting height of the fixture.

 

Type III Distribution

Type III distributions provides a wide, round pattern like that of Type II distribution; however the amount of light it provides is much larger and meant for roadways, parking lots and larger areas. The width of the light pattern on the ground is about 2.75 times wider than the mounting height of the fixture.

Type IV Distribution

Type IV distributions are a round pattern that is pushed out away from the fixture with little light falling behind the fixture. This is ideal for perimeters, security and walls or buildings. The width of the light pattern on the ground is still quite large, about 2.75 times wider than the mounting height of the fixture.

Type V Distribution

Type V distributions provide the largest, most even pattern of light. The light is pushed in all directions from the light fixture and is used for large parking areas or anywhere a large even pattern of light is required.

There you have it. When you decide what are you need lit, make sure you are asking for the correct distribution pattern for your application.
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Topics: Solar Lighting, General Lighting, LED Lighting, Solar Lighting Design

Important Tips Linked To Solar Street Light Manufacturer Selection

Posted by SEPCO

3/27/14 9:30 AM

SolarStreetLightManufacturer.jpgWith the pressure on to conserve energy, many companies and local authorities are installing solar powered street lights. These lights not only help save money, but also help reduce the pressure on power generation plants thus helping reduce greenhouse emission production. It also helps reduce pressure on the power grid thus helping divert the energy to other sectors and industries which need it more. When planning to purchase a large number of solar street lights, it’s important to keep certain factors in mind so as to select the right solar street light manufacturer and brands. Below are some of these factors which will help make more informed decisions:

The amount of light required

Street lights are meant to light up large areas thus requiring the solar lights to be bright. It’s important the radius each light eliminates be taken in to consideration thus allowing the distance between lights to be calculated. This makes it possible to determine the number of solar street lights that are required and helps estimate the cost. The larger the radius covered by each light, the fewer the number of solar street lights you need, thus helping reduce solar street light purchase and installation costs.

Solar light maintenance tips

It’s important to keep in mind that street lights are a public utility and therefor tend to be mishandled. This makes it important to select solar street light which is made using strong materials which will prolong the usable life.

Insect and animals management

Keep in mind that the lights tend to be an insect attraction and require to be completely sealed to prevent insects and other animals seeking shelter inside the lights. It’s common to find small animals like rats and squirrels finding their way in to street lights and making themselves at home since the lights provides a source of warmth during the cold winter nights. Also make sure the lights are strong enough to support extra weight. This is because you are bound to find birds perching on the solar street lights which can result in breaking of the lights.

Preventing and avoiding corrosion

The materials used to make the lights also require being corrosion resistant to prevent deterioration over short periods of time. Today, there are several alloys and plastic materials which can be used on the lights to help prevent corrosion. On some parts of the light anti-corrosive materials can be used to coat the metals and prevent any damage from heat and water.

Reduced wiring and maintenance requirements

It’s also important to take the wiring in to consideration to help reduce the maintenance requirements. Today NANO technology has resulted in miniaturizing most electronics including solar street light controls. This means that they have all the required components inside the street light. They have an in-built solar charging unit, battery cells and an automatic light sensor which turn the solar light on and off. Select solar lights which offer a one in all solution thus helping reduce maintenance and repair requirements.

The cost of solar street lighting

When price comes to question, many people will consider just the tag price but with solar street light section several other aspects come in to play. To begin with it’s important to consider the area covered by the lights. Keep in mind that the wider the radius covered results in the requirement of fewer street lights. This makes it important to make the required calculations so as to determine each street lights “light span”. This measurement will help determine the number and eventually the cost of the solar street lights. Also take time to calculate other aspects such as the maintenance and repair costs linked to the solar street lights.

For companies, property developers and local government authorities that purchase a large number of street lights, the above points play an important role towards selecting the right solar light manufacturer, brands or models. Every aspect must be taken in to close consideration to make sure you get the most effective solar street light which delivers abundant lighting and results in the least amount of maintenance requirements.

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Topics: Clean Energy, Street Lighting, Solar Lighting Design

Let’s Make Earth Hour 2014 Bigger and Better Together

Posted by SEPCO

3/25/14 9:30 AM

Earth_Hour

Every year I post about Earth Hour and every year I join in, but do you? What can we do this year for Earth Hour to make it even better? Check out this year’s video and see some of the amazing things that have been accomplished so far. I’m excited to see what this year will bring.

Maybe turning your lights off for an hour once a year sounds small and minor, but it is the impact around the world that makes Earth Hour such a great movement. It shows your community your dedication to preserving this planet and that you stand for improving our lives.

This year, I’m going to do something more. I’m going to get my neighborhood involved. Passing out flyers and having people over to hang out by a fire is a great way for you to talk about issues affecting our world as a whole and ways that everyone can work together to help fix them. Maybe next year I can do the neighborhood next to us as well.

What about you? What can you do differently? Can you gather your friends and family together? Or what about going to a local Earth Hour event if there is one nearby? There are so many ways you can participate, but make sure you do something and take a stand for something you believe in.

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Topics: Green Ideas

How to Go Green without Really Trying

Posted by SEPCO

3/20/14 9:30 AM

Going green might seem like a complicated, cumbersome ideal that’s just a little too far out of your comfort zone. But it’s not something that has to take a lot of energy if you don’t have a lot to expend. Here are a few simple ways to go green without really trying.

Buy the Right Light Bulbs

This is a simple enough way to go a little greener all over the house. When you need to replace the light bulbs in your home, do yourself a favor and buy the florescent bulbs instead of the standard. They use 75% less energy than the incandescent variety and last much, much longer. They might be a little pricier up front, but they’ll more than pay for themselves—and your home will be a little greener for it.

Watch Water Use

Next time your showerheads need to be replaced, go for the low-flow option. You’ll conserve water in a big way, which will reduce your water bill as well as be environmentally friendly.

Teach your children to brush their teeth with the water off. Letting the water run while they scrub wastes an inordinate amount of water (up to five gallons a day) that could be saved simply by twisting the tap.

Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they’re completely full. Half-loads aren’t as efficient, and you’ll end up running more loads than necessary.

Turn_off_ComputerTurn It Off

When you finish with your electronics for the night, turn them off. Unplug printers, computers, the TV, the DVD player, etc. If you can, plug them all into a power strip and then just switch it off every night before you go to bed. Turning off the devices all the way will prevent phantom power draw.

So instead of just leaving your laptop open and running, put it to sleep if you’re going to be away from it for a while. Turn off your phone at night instead of leaving it on all night to waste battery life. It will hardly take an effort on your part, and it’s just that much greener.                                                   

Permeable Paving

Your house can and should be just as green as your lifestyle. That isn’t to say that you need to install solar panels (although these are getting to be both more plausible and popular) or live in a tree house, but it can still be environmentally friendly. Next time you need to get your driveway repaved, consider forgoing the traditional asphalt or concrete and having permeable paving installed instead by your local paving company. Vancouver and Minnesota residents might need to have their roads repaved more often than cities in warmer climates, but the idea is the same no matter where you live.

Permeable paving is made of substances such as glass or permeable concrete that allow water to filter through it, keeping the surrounding lawns moist. They cool faster and require little maintenance. These materials are a little pricier but might be worth it in your quest for simple ways to go green.

Grow_a_GardenGrow a Garden

This idea takes a little more work, but if you plan on growing a garden anyway, you’re not any worse for wear. If you’ve been toying with the idea of planting a garden and just haven’t gotten around to it, make 2014 the year you try.

Gardens are an excellent way to “go green.” It doesn’t have to take up half your yard—any size, even a few tomato plants in pots, will make your meals a little healthier and reduce your “carbon footprint.”

Slow Down

When you drive, slow down a little. Higher speeds use more gas, so if you can afford to take a little extra time on your morning commute, it might be worth it. Checking the air pressure in your tires on a regular basis will also contribute to better gas mileage, as will keeping your air filters clean. Consider carpooling to work if you can to reduce emissions. None of these changes are life-altering, but the positive benefits add up.

Green Grocery Shopping

When you shop, spend the extra cash to buy natural or organic goods. They’re not as cheap as the produce grown with chemicals and hormones, but raising awareness of the health and environmental benefits of organically grown foods will make a difference.

Bring your own bags to carry your groceries. Reduce your use of paper and plastic bags (that only go straight to the landfills after you trash them at home). You can find cloth bags anywhere—many grocery stores even sell them in an effort to promote greener living.

Remember: your entire lifestyle doesn’t have to change to go green. Just be aware of the little things, and before you know it, you’ll be living just a little greener. 

About the Author: Georgiah Cook has a passion for finance, education, and the environment. She recently had her own driveway repaved, which set her on another “green” streak. For more information, visit Superior Paving. Georgiah also loves biking, hiking, and people-watching at the beach.

Pics: Wiki Acer, Wiki Garden

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Conservation, Recycling

Solar Powered Network Camera Provides Security to Job Sites

Posted by SEPCO

3/18/14 9:30 AM

A recent trend has developed in job site security: solar powered security cameras. But solar powered security cameras aren't just small ways to lessen your carbon footprint; the reality is, they can be extremely beneficial for myriad different reasons. Solar powered security cameras are more efficient, more useful, and more convenient.  Need further proof? Here are a few reasons why solar powered security cameras are the way to go for your job site. 

Ease of movement 

Presuming that you hook your solar powered security camera up to a Wi-Fi network, you will be able to run the entire system without cables. This means that, anytime you feel the need to move the location of your camera, you can do so very easily. It won't require the hassle of moving wires and cables, which often have to be installed underground. With a solar powered security camera, you can simply place it where you need it, anytime you need it, and you'll be ready to go.

SolarCamera1.jpg

Added security 

Solar powered cameras actually offer better security than their traditional counterparts. The reasoning is pretty simple:  traditional security cameras require an infrastructure.  In general, they have to be attached to a building, which is insecure for two reasons. First, it limits the amount of places that you can put them.  Usually there are better camera locations closer than the infrastructure; these provide more security, but can't be reached with a traditional, wired camera. And second, security cameras on infrastructures are in plain sight, which allows vandals and thieves the opportunity to work around them, or cut them off. Without wires, you can place your security cameras in trees or bushes or fences, and no criminal will ever know that they are there. 

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Save money 

The amount of money saved by switching to a solar powered security system may seem negligible, but take into account the fact that security cameras run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and you'll quickly realize just how much money you can save. The fiscal benefit of switching to a solar powered security camera will add up very quickly.

For these reasons - and others - solar powered security cameras are the new best way to secure your job site. They're more efficient, more cost effective, and more secure than the traditional models.

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Topics: Solar Power, Solar Camera

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