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How to Determine the ROI on Your Solar Lighting Project

Posted by SEPCO

9/30/14 9:30 AM

 ROI on Solar Lighting Project

ROI is one of the most important aspects of determining if the solar lighting project you are looking to complete is better than going with standard electric lighting. This can be one of the most difficult things to determine, but there is a little information that can help you determine what the return of investment of the project will be. Here are some simple steps to help you find out what your payback period will be and the ROI of your project.

1. Determine the total cost of the project, including the purchasing of the solar lighting systems, the installation costs and other associated fees that may occur. Also, make sure to look into finding out what incentives are available on the Federal, State and Local governments.

2. Determine the total cost of the project, including the purchase and installation of a standard electrical lighting system would be including the trenching and all wiring requirements.

3. Also, find out what the current electrical rates would be for your project and don’t forget to include inflation over time. Since a solar lighting system has a life span of over 20 years, you can easily determine what your utility bill will be over the next 20 years and add that to your installation costs.

Say the area requiring lighting calls for 5 lights. If your solar lighting project is a total of $19,000 and bringing in electric for standard lighting is $10250 for example, you would need the following formula to determine the ROI:

Solar: $19000 Equipment – 30% Federal Tax Incentive = $13300 + $750 Installation = $14050 + $2250 Maintenance = $16300 total cost of project over 25 Years (remember, no electrical costs ever).

Electric: $13750 Equipment and Grid Extensions / Wiring / Trenching + $750 Installation = $14500 + $10060 Electricity Costs (3% Inflation over 25 Years) = $24560 + $835 Maintenance = $25395 total cost of project over 25 Years.

Now to determine the ROI of the project: The initial investment of $14050 vs $14500 for the purchase of the systems and the installation shows a difference of $450. The average electrical cost per year is $276 in the beginning and would give the system a 2 year ROI. This is with the average electrical costs; these vary in different areas in the country and can be longer or shorter depending on the local costs. This formula is also under the assumption that electric is available nearby and there isn’t much for electrical installation to occur. With so many vitiating factors, including other incentives that can reduce your solar lighting costs, speaking to your lighting specialist can help determine the exact ROI of your project.

Remember, there are always multiple factors that can change the return on investment on your project, but knowing all the costs going each direction will help you determine what the best is for your money. If that doesn’t work, just remember, you are lighting up your world with free solar energy and providing a green option to your project.

*NOTE: The above example is just that, an example. Contact your lighting representative for your project costs and information. 

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Off Grid Solar Lighting, ROI

People’s Climate March and the UN Climate Summit 2014

Posted by SEPCO

9/25/14 9:30 AM

peoples climate march 2014

Last Sunday was one of the largest climate rallies ever, the People’s Climate March in New York City. Climate changes have been on the mind of people since the 60’s and 70’s, but realizing that we need to do something now is pushing people even harder, as we have already damaged the climate permanently and there is worse to come.  Many big names were out there in the crowd along with everyday citizens to demand action in the UN Climate Summit in New York on Sept 23.

Leonardo DiCaprio made one of the best speeches I’ve heard in a long time, see here:

I think my other favorite video this week was Jon Stewart’s video Burn Noticed:

So now what? Well some great ideas were put up and set to be put in action. The Green Climate Fund, which was established in 2009, was set into place to help developing countries move away from fossil fuels; however, it has not been kept up with and is not meeting the goals set forth. Pledges were taken at this year’s Climate Summit to push this program further ahead; however, most of the wealthier countries, including the US, needs to get on the boat and make their pledge.

Carbon emissions were of course one of the largest topics. Countries including Ireland and Chile are working towards reducing their carbon emissions; however, we need large industrial countries such as China and India to jump on board to make a real impact. So are they doing this? 2014 Was the lowest coal consumption year in the past decade for China and they are working to lower their consumption even more. As for India, no one knows as they didn’t show up to discuss their input, but we will see in time what they do.

Food security was another hot topic on the list along with deforestation. Deforestation is on a track to be cut in half by 2020 and finally ended in 2030. Will there be forests or even trees left by 2030? I guess we will see. One of the worst deforestation is due to the Palm Oil industry; however, large companies are finally getting involved and making zero-deforestation pledges and deforestation-free sourcing of palm oil.

As for the future, The UK Prime Minister David Cameron wants leaders to strike a deal in Paris. He states “We must agree to a global deal in Paris next year, we simply cannot afford to put it off any longer.” Maybe this is a good idea, a yearly meeting instead of every 5 years; help keep everyone accountable of their actions and on track for a global change.

All in all, the rally helped raise awareness and showed the people’s support  for action as well as showing  the UN how much everyone (well most everyone) wants change to happen immediately. We all want a green and clean world for our children for generations to come, but we need to start somewhere. Every drop in the bucket towards making the world better is a step in the right direction.

For more information, check out: UN Climate Change Summit, Vice News, The Guardian, Mashable

Img Source: Grist

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Alternative Energy

Planning and Budgeting For Your Commercial Solar Lighting Project

Posted by SEPCO

9/23/14 9:30 AM

Planning_Budgeting_Commerical_Solar_Lighting_ProjectPurchasing a good quality commercial solar lighting system can be a daunting task and the numbers alone can make you cringe. The savings are sometimes missed when you are looking at the initial costs of a project. But don’t be disconcerted, there is are ways to help budget your commercial solar lighting projects and make them more affordable. Here are a few tips that can help make or break your project.

1. Find out what your budget is and tell your specifier in the beginning stages of the project. If they know what your budget is, they will be more apt to follow with that then just quote you whatever they think will work. Giving them something to go on takes away the initial sticker shock of a purchase and allows them to work within your budget when designing the initial project.

2. If you don’t have a budget planned out, but you want to find a way to lower the costs from what the original quote was, check out incentives for using renewable energy. There are grants and tax incentives available for just about any business looking to use solar lighting for their facility. Some great resources are: The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE), Department of Energy and contacting your local power company for additional information.

3. Complete the project in phases when the entire project cannot be purchased all at once. Breaking the project down to ensure that the most appropriate and important part of the project can be completed first will allow you to budget better for the overall project and break up the investment over time.

4. Don’t forget to take into consideration the short and long term costs associated with a commercial solar lighting project such as installation and maintenance. Review all documents to ensure that the company stands by their product with a warranty and provides you’re the length of coverage for each component, not just a system as a whole. Since different parts of the system have a range of life span, the warranty should reflect this and not just be an overall warranty on the product.

These are some of the best tips to making sure your commercial solar lighting project stays within your budget and the project is finished with great success. Working with your solar lighting specifier will ensure that your project will meet your needs and not kill your bottom line. 

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Lighting Design, Off Grid Solar Lighting

Making a Switch: Is Your Business Able to Switch Electric Providers?

Posted by SEPCO

9/18/14 9:30 AM

SwitchSwitching electricity providers is possible now, but many businesses are hesitant because of some of the roadblocks that have been presented for other companies. Research is essential to understanding the plan and ensuring that you get good quality service from your provider. Here's what you need to know if you're considering switching: 

1. Only Customers of Licensed Retailers Can Switch

Your choice of electricity companies are only limited by the number of retailers available. If you're in an area with only one provider, then you have no choice but to select that provider. Some retailers will only supply to business customers. This could be an advantage for business owners. If you do have a choice, you're considered a "contestable customer."

2. Must Meet Certain Criteria to Switch

To switch, you must use more than 50 MWh of electricity per year. You may also qualify if your distributor is not Western Power. You cannot combine the amount of electricity you are using at each property to make yourself eligible as a contestable customer. If you use less than 50 MWh per year or pay less than $12,600 per year, and you are already connected to Western Power's network, you will not be allowed to switch. Any non-contestable customer in the SWIS network will receive electricity from Synergy. 

3. Find an Approved Provider

You must select a retailer that's been approved by the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA). The ERA website will list all of the retailers that have been approved to provide electricity to consumers. Contact these retailers when you decide which one is best for you. The new retailer will arrange the transfer on your behalf. Once you switch, your old retailer may not bill you for any electricity used. 

4. Always Ensure That You're Getting the Best Rate Possible

You want to ensure that you get the best rate possible at all times when you switch electricity providers, therefore shopping around is crucial. When you find the best rate, follow the procedures to switch. Most companies will require that you enter into a contract for a specified period of time. Once that time lapses, you're welcome to find another provider. 

Keep in mind that surveys have been conducted demonstrating the sentiment regarding this issue. When a group was surveyed, 413 had changed their power companies in the past three years, but only 52 percent were confident that they made the right choice. Comparing offers is not always easy, and there may be some hidden costs that you're unaware of until the bill comes. 

Every bill may have off-peak offers and peak-usage offers. Some companies offer discounts for on-time payments and others do not. You must know how you'll be affected before you make a decision. 

5. Be Aware of Unauthorised Switches

Five percent of people have been switched from one provider to another without authorization. For this reason, many people are sceptical of sales people when they knock on their doors and request a change. You must know at all times what the terms are and ensure that no person switches you without your permission. 

6. Most People Switch When They Move

Most people don't consider switching providers until they move. If they move to another location, they have more or sometimes, fewer options available. While a move may force you to switch providers, you should always perform due diligence to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible.

7. Beware of Penalties

If you're renting your building or apartment, be sure that your rental agreement coincides with the length of your electricity contract. If you break the contract before the agreed upon time, you may have to pay exorbitant fees. If you want to avoid fees and problems, you should ensure that if you are renting for a year, your contract with the electricity company should not exceed one year. 

Making the Switch Can Be Profitable 

If you remove all of the caveats, switching can be profitable. You can save more money that can be re-invested into your business. This is desirable to most people in this situation. While there are some organisations available to help you, they are more focused on helping residential consumers. Find the organisations that are willing to help you and avoid those that may switch you without your knowledge. In general, do not sign anything until you read it fully because you may be switching your electricity service without knowing it. Switching can be a good practice if it's executed properly. 

Author Bio: This article is written by Aidan Jenkins, Managing Director of Infinite Energy, business electricity provider to Perth and South West WA. Connect with Aidan on Google+ or LinkedIn.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

Solar Lighting Fixtures Are Versatile and Adapt To Needs of the Project

Posted by SEPCO

9/16/14 9:30 AM

Why so many choices? There are multiple fixtures that can be utilized with a solar lighting system, and each fixture can be used for more than one type of application. Providing different options allows for customization of a system to provide the necessary lighting while staying with the look the customer wants. Here are some of the best examples:

Small Flood Solar Lighting Fixtures

Solar Bus Shelter Lighting

The InGrade solar fixture can provide great lighting for smaller applications such as a sign light, bus stop, bus shelters, flags, area and landscapes, walkways and so much more. This fixture has the ability to be used inside an enclosure or on its own mounted in fixture housing. The picture shown is a great example of using this fixture in a bus shelter mounted within the battery assembly; however, the same fixture can be used for a bus stop light by just making a few adjustments to the overall system. This is definitely a very versatile fixture.

Large Decorative Solar Lighting Fixtures

Solar Street Lighting

The Urban solar fixture can be used for larger applications for roadways, walkways, parking lots, parks, area, pavilions and so much more. These decorative fixtures provide amazing lighting due to the LED technology, are dark sky compliant, and can even be configured to be turtle friendly with ease. These fixtures mount on the side of the pole from a decorative arm bracket or from above underneath a roof structure if needed. They provide a range of optics and distribution patterns that allows for adaptive lighting to whatever the need of the project without losing light levels on the ground.

Standard Solar Lighting Fixtures

Solar Lighting Fixture

The Viper fixture is another versatile fixture. It is a great cross in style between a standard Cobrahead and Shoebox style fixture and easily can adapt to many different situations. This fixture is typically used for roadways, parking lots and area perimeter lighting; however, it can be used for just about all overhead lighting applications. This fixture provides a lot of light even at lower wattages and also offers a wide range of optics and distribution patterns for adaptive lighting. The same fixture can be used with different optics on different areas of the same project ranging from Type II to Type V Square distributions and many in between. Best of all, this fixture is dark sky compliant so all the light is pushed where you need it.

As every customer has a different application, customizing the fixture to the needs of the project will provide the most efficient solar lighting system. There is no reason to use large floods on smaller applications, just like you wouldn’t want a small, low wattage fixture to light up for security, roadway or parking lots. Make sure your fixture does exactly what you need it to do, or don’t hesitate to ask for a different option. Your lighting designers are there to provide you exactly what you need for your project.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Lighting Design, Commercial Street Light LED Fixtures, Off Grid Solar Lighting

Solar Flood Light for Large Area Lighting and Safety

Posted by SEPCO

9/11/14 9:30 AM

Solar Flood LightIt is costly to light large areas such as parking lots, parks, and other open spaces, yet the benefits of lighting such areas are obvious as it gives users safe access, the ability to see where they are going, and to act as a deterrent against crime.

Solar-powered flood lighting provides an affordable alternative to mains-powered flood lighting; installation costs are much lower, running costs are negligible, and systems can be adapted to suit clients' needs.

Large Area Lighting

The provision of lighting for large open areas where people congregate for social and other activities is important. Typical examples are public parking lots at malls and airports, industrial and commercial sites, and recreational areas. Lighting levels need to be sufficient to give users and security personnel sufficient light to use and observe these areas with reasonable ease. This is readily achieved with the use of a solar flood light installation as lights can be installed where required.

Safety

Public safety is enhanced by the provision of flood lighting of open areas, particularly during winter when days are short and people need to commute, shop, and transport children while it is dark. The provision of adequate lighting is important to ensure safety of personnel and to protect property. It also plays a role in the prevention of accidents and injury. A solar flood light system is an economical solution to providing safety and security lighting for public outdoor areas.

Illumination Levels

Illumination levels are an important consideration when specifying a solar flood light system. The use of low energy bulbs such as LEDs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) reduces the current draw, but it's important to carefully evaluate desired illumination levels as this affects the cost of the solar equipment.

One method is to adjust illumination levels automatically through the use of motion detectors that permit running the lamp at low power and switching to full power when there is activity near them. Alternatively, lights can be switched off for certain periods and activated by motion sensors.

Power Supply Packs

A solar flood light is powered by a battery charged by a solar panel. The battery must be sized to provide adequate power while the lights are on. The size of the solar panel will be selected so as to provide sufficient charge to the battery at all times, taking cognizance of reduced solar charging periods during winter and cloudy weather.

Light Fixtures

The selection of the light fixture is based on the required illumination level, height of the light fixture, and the period the lamp must be lit. If high levels of illumination are required, the choice may include high pressure sodium, metal halide, or LED fixtures; don't forget to take into account the higher power requirements of some of these lamps. CFL and LED fixtures would be chosen if lower illumination levels are required. If lamps need to be dimmed, LED is the best choice.

Benefits of Solar Flood Lighting

Solar flood lighting provides many benefits over conventional mains-powered lighting. Lamps can be situated wherever they are needed without having to worry about the complexities of running mains power to the fixture, and their installation obviates the need for expensive trenching, conduits, and subsequent pavement repairs. Despite the higher price of a complete solar flood light module, this translates into lower installation costs and negligible operational costs. Maintenance is limited to replacement of failed lamps and the battery every five years. SEPCO has many years of experience in the design and installation of solar flood lighting systems and will provide interested customers with a free project analysis on request. 

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Topics: Security Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting, Off Grid Solar Lighting, Large Area Lighting

Remembering 9/11

Posted by SEPCO

9/11/14 9:29 AM

Like most of us, I can still remember what I was doing almost 15 years ago on 9/11 when tragedy struck and how it affected everyone in the country and around the world. Today, we here at SEPCO would like to remember all the people and service men and women who lost their lives due to this tragedy as well as all those who not only helped during this time, but have fought for our country and others. Thank you for everything you do!

9-11-tribute-light-memorial

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Harness the Sun to Power Your Home

Posted by SEPCO

9/9/14 9:30 AM

SunThere has been a growing trend in recent years towards clean, renewable energy. Many consumers have explored the benefits of meeting some or all of their energy needs through renewable energy, such as wind or solar energy. One of the most common and popular options is the installation of home solar panels. When done properly, these solar panels can generate a large amount of electricity, greatly reducing the bill being paid to the electric company.

Over time, it is very possible for the investment in solar energy to pay for itself and more, all while being clean and renewable. The first consideration when looking in to solar panels is the upfront cost. Depending on the size of your house and the amount of energy you are looking to produce, this can be a sizable investment. In addition to investigating the cost of the panels themselves, you will want to look in to the cost of getting the panels installed on your roof and connected to your home's electrical system.

While it is possible to do the installation yourself, most consumers will want to hire professionals to make sure the job is done correctly the first time. The amount you pay for a professional installation can be significantly less than having to redo the project later. In certain areas, especially northern latitudes which gets fewer hours of sunlight, you may not generate enough energy through solar for it to be your only source of energy. Be sure to carefully monitor your energy usage to determine if you can get by with just solar energy, and reach out to other homeowners who have made the switch to solar. They will be able to give you an estimate on how much energy you can expect to generate through solar panels.

Other homeowners can also be an excellent resource on where to buy panels and how to install them. If need be, you can also look in to options such as wind, or see if your electric company offers any partial-year options; you may be able to use solar energy throughout the summer and just need the extra electricity during the winter months.

In addition to the actual installation, you will want to look in to any laws in your area regarding solar panels for homes. While solar panels are becoming increasingly prevalent, there may be rules or regulations which can come in to play in your particular case, so you will want to be aware of them. In addition to any laws, you will want to check with any homeowners association, landlord, or other entity which has any say in your home to make sure you can install your solar panels. It is also worth looking in to any tax credits you may qualify for by switching to solar energy.

About the AuthorShashank Kirloskar is a professional business analyst. Apart from his profession he is a freelance writer for Lancosolar.com. He loves writing and sharing articles related to solar energy and companies offering solar panel for homes and commercial buildings.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Solar Power

How to Efficiently Use Solar Flood Lights for Security Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

9/2/14 9:30 AM

Solar Flood LightUsing solar flood lights around a perimeter of a building can increase security, but these bright lights do not need to operate at all times. Since most security flood lights shine outward and cover a large area, they can use a lot of power and produce glare or light trespass on nearby areas. There are different ways to utilize solar security flood lights around a building without disturbing the nearby area, keep the area secure and not breaking the bank. Here are a few options to consider.

1. Motion Activated Solar Flood Lights

Having the security lighting off unless motion is detected is one of the most popular setups available for solar flood lights. These use the least amount of power as the lights are only operational when they are needed. Once the motion is gone, the lights turn back off after a period of time. This option offers the lowest cost and least amount of light trespass as the lights can perform exactly as needed to secure the perimeter of a building for surveillance.

2. Lower Light Levels that Motion to Full Brightness

If all night lighting is required, having the security flood fixtures at a low wattage to provide enough lighting to see, but not out a large distance from the perimeter. Then, when motion is detected, these lights turn way up to max brightness to provide the distance lighting for security purposes. Once motion has stopped, the lights go back to their original lower wattage to keep the area properly lit. This option, though using more power, can provide all night lighting for people that are constantly surveillancing the area or use cameras without night vision.

Solar Security Light System

3. Adaptive Lighting Solar Flood Lights

Having the lights come on at dusk and stay on for a couple hours, then go down to a lower wattage and be motion activated for the remainder of the night is the final option to cover. These types of applications will use the most amount of power as the lights need to be powered almost all night at full intensity with only a period of time during the late night to be using a lower wattage.

Those are the three most efficient methods of using solar flood lights for security purposes around a building. This doesn’t mean you cannot keep your security flood lights on all night at full intensity, but for the most efficient solar security light systems, allowing the lights to be adaptive to the environment and the circumstance will lower the solar power requirements without having to lose out on any of the security features.
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Topics: Security Lighting, Solar Lighting Design

Jimmy Carter’s Home Town Signs Brightened Up by Solar Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

8/28/14 9:30 AM

Jimmy Carter introduced the solar tax credit and renewable energy policies, along with being the first president to install solar panels on the roof of the White House, so it would make sense that the place markers of the home of Jimmy Carter would be lit by solar energy. The home of Jimmy Carter is in Plains, GA and is where he resides today. This is a huge attraction for the area and many people stop to take pictures of the area and plaquings located along the way.

Solar Sign Light Jimmy Carter

We were contacted by SolAmerica Energy, a leading solar developer based in Georgia, to provide the solar lighting systems for SolAmerica to install in Plains. The Plains Better Home Town civic group and Chamber of Commerce were installing new plaques to mark Jimmy Carter’s home town and wanted to put up new colorful signs; however, they were requiring lighting at night. Since there was no available power nearby, and the former President had always pushed for solar energy, using a solar lighting system was the preferred choice.

Jimmy Carter Solar Sign Light

The design called for an Architectural Flood fixture to provide the necessary lighting all night for these plaque signs. This provides ability for travelers to take pictures and night and showcase the area at all times. The system is powered by a 50 Watt solar power system that provides plenty of power to light the signs all night and provides five days storage for inclement weather, ensuring the system runs reliably for years to come.

We at SEPCO hope Jimmy Carter enjoys his new solar lighting systems.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, SEPCO News & Information, Sign Lighting

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