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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

An LED Solar Street Light Provides Better Visibility

Posted by SEPCO

4/30/13 9:30 AM

Solar LED Street LightMost street lights installed currently use low pressure sodium, high pressure sodium or metal halide lamps to light up the streets. Not only do these lamps use a ton more electricity than LEDs, the visibility is much lower due to coloration and intensity of the light. Instead, consider making the switch to LEDs as they will not only significantly reduce your energy bill but also provide a much brighter and cleaner light to improve visibility and safety of travelers.

LEDs consume very little energy as they provide more efficient lighting with less power consumption. These are a perfect solution for areas looking to lower their energy usage or switch to solar powered street lights.

LEDs also come with a range of lighting spectrum depending on the needs of the area. Most LED lights have a bright white light output that is closer to sunlight than most lights produced today. This allows for better visibility in regards to color, shape, etc. while also creating less strain on the eyes.

Other lighting colors can be used depending on the project. For example, turtle friendly lights need to be amber in color as the wave lengths of the light are much longer and do not disorient wildlife. They also need to be dark sky compliant, and with aimed optics technology with LEDs, this can be done with ease.   The inherent design of LEDs can easily adapt to these changes without major conversions.

Solar and LEDs integrate together flawlessly to provide a great solution. LEDs and solar power are perfect companions because the DC current that LEDs run on is the very same type of power that solar energy produces.

In the final analysis, LED solar street lights provides better visibility while also being cost effective, renewable and a green option for all your street lighting needs.

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Topics: LED Lighting, Street Lighting

Prevent Theft and Vandalism by Using a Stand Alone Security Camera

Posted by SEPCO

4/25/13 9:30 AM

Stand Alone Security CameraMany businesses, construction sites and storage yards are plagued by theft and vandalism. Adequate lighting and use of security cameras can decrease the occurrences of these issues and provide additional safety for workers and property.

If AC power is not readily available at the site, using stand alone security cameras powered by off-grid solar power can be an effective solution. Using off-grid solar power also ensures that even in cases of blackouts or power tampering, the camera will still function properly.

Stand Alone Security Camera SystemsSecurity cameras can easily be integrated with off-grid solar power once the power needs of the camera are determined. The solar charges a battery which in turn provides power to the security camera and remote transmitter unit which transfers data to a nearby computer or recording device providing video and audio detection. The battery assembly is sized for over 5 full days of autonomous power to provide ultra-reliable year round operation.  Moreover, since security cameras and transmitter units require relatively little power, the off-grid solar power system is typically quite small and relatively inexpensive. 

Security cameras can also be readily integrated with off-grid solar power lighting system that are designed/programmed to operate all night or via motion activation. The combination of off-grid solar power lighting and security camera systems makes for an unbeatable theft and vandalism deterrent for areas without ready access to AC power grid. And since all parts are placed high on a pole they are secure from vandalism themselves. The camera and light systems can also be moved from job to job when the construction is completed.

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Topics: Solar Power, Off Grid Solar PV, Solar Camera

Off Grid Solar Power Billboard Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

4/23/13 8:30 AM

10 x 36 Solar Billboard Light at Night

The biggest challenge associated with lighting the scores of billboards located along remote stretches of highways and byways throughout the US is the accessibility of AC power.   When AC power is not readily available or too costly to access, SEPCO’s ultra reliable grid-free solar power systems—combined with energy efficient, high performance LED flood light fixtures from our lighting partners at Hubbell Lighting—are an ideal solution.  

Better yet, SEPCO/Hubbell off-grid solar power billboard lighting systems are relatively quick and easy to install.  The solar arrays are mounted to heavy duty round steel galvanized poles attached to the top of the billboard structure.  The DC power generated by the solar arrays is stored in a master battery box during the day and then, with the help of SEPCO’s ALC system controller, used to power the high performance Hubbell LED flood light fixtures at night.

Off Grid Solar Power Billboard LightingInvariably, the best, most cost effective off-grid solar power billboard lighting systems will be in areas that have ample sun during the day, low levels of ambient lighting surrounding the billboard at night and can operate on 6-8 hours per night, the likes of which can be easily be split into a post dusk and a pre-dawn run time (ex.  Dusk + 6 hours…off…back on 2 hours pre-dawn)

 

Also worth noting that 30% Federal tax credit is available to companies in the US that utilize off-grid solar power to illuminate their billboards at night. 

Have a billboard or a sign you would like to light at night but have limited or very costly access to AC power? Give SEPCO a call, we can help!

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Billboard Lighting

10 Great Ways to Celebrate Earth Day 2013

Posted by SEPCO

4/18/13 9:30 AM

Earth Day 2013Earth Day is coming up on Monday, April 22nd and there is still time to plan some great activities to celebrate both at work and at home. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Repurpose something old into something new. Instead of throwing out or even recycling, make something of that “stuff” you have lying around. There are so many great ideas and one of the best resources I found is Pinterest. Just be careful not to get lost in all the great pins. Don’t have the time, Freecycle the items you no longer want to others.

2. Volunteer your time to do something for your community. There are many events and volunteer opportunities in your community that you can get involved in. Can’t find an event nearby, start your own event in with your neighbors or coworkers and do something good.

3. The annual Lyrids meteor shower is nearly here, beginning roughly around April 16th and visible until around April 26th. The peak will be occurring on April 22, 2013 (night of the 22nd/morning of the 23rd).  This may not work for everyone, like people who live in a city, but for all of us in rural areas, this is a great idea to experience something new.

4. Do some guerilla gardening with seed bombs. This will brighten up some abandoned spot in town and make you and others smile when you pass by. Best of all it provides some growth to a previously dead spot giving nature a chance to “spring” back to life.

5. Do some green cleaning around your home or office. Instead of using harmful chemicals, create a natural cleaning solution and wipe down all surfaces.  Everything will be fresh and clean while being environmentally friendly.

6. Plant something. Okay, this is a repeat from our Earth Day post last year, but it applies every year. This time maybe take the plant indoors to help clean the air. There are tons of air cleaning plants that are great for homes and offices.

7. Do those upgrades you have been dreaming of. Most stores have Energy Star appliance sales on Earth Day, such as Lowe’s 10% off sale. This is a great time to lower your energy usage while increasing your home’s efficiency and style.

8. Visit a national park for free. National Park Week coincides with Earth Day and all week (April 20-28) you can visit any of the national parks with free admission. What a great time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air with nature’s beauty all around.

9. Get rid of paper mail. Sign up with DMAChoice.org, use your tablet to get e-catalogs and magazines and use your smart phones for news updates instead of the paper.

10. Commit to make small changes throughout the year. Small changes can be as simple as using green bags when shopping, not buying bottled water, recycling more, composting, etc. There are a ton of things you can get your friends and family to do. Remember, one drop in the bucket eventually will create a flood.

Happy Earth Day!

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Topics: Fun Green Articles, Holiday

Photovoltaic Discoveries Around the Home with Children

Posted by SEPCO

4/16/13 9:30 AM

Renewable Energy with KidsSolar power is one of the cleanest and most reliably abundant sources of power we have encountered as a species. Wind may be clean as well, but it requires air currents. If we ever run out of solar power, we'll have bigger problems than power to worry about. Although the Sun is a great source for this power, did you know that other items around the home generate photovoltaic power as well? Armed with a solar cell and a typical current tester, you and your children can discover a world of wasted energy.

1. From the Sun - The most obvious form of solar power comes from our Sun. Although we are keen to use the collection of power produced by our star our faults lie within an affordable method to harness that power for use throughout our daily and nightly lifestyles. However, it is curious that we have been able to condense the power of a computer system from the size of a building to a device that fits in the palm of your hand but we can't make a viable form of power storage? My oldest child once commented on how much power from the sun is wasted every day as it shines on buildings, roads, fields, and more.

2. Florescent Bulbs - We discovered this photovoltaic discovery by accident. As we had quite a few solar recharging units for cell phones laying around the office, I noticed that even the unused brand new units where showing their power lights illuminated. As there were no windows or openings leading to the outside for these units to charge, my children and I began testing the chargers by allowing them to empty themselves into a phone and charging them in the office using the florescent bulbs in the ceiling. The closer we moved the solar unit to the bulb, the brighter the charging light became. While it took a great deal of time to charge one of the units to be able to supply a single bar of power in a phone, we were still able to do it without the use of solar exposure.

3. CFL Bulbs - As a spinoff from the above experiment my children helped me accomplish, we decided to test the compact fluorescent light bulbs that we had in our lighting fixtures at home. My oldest son had the idea of tearing apart one of the many solar chargers we have and connecting the voltmeter to it and see how much power the CFL produced. The excitement in his voice and the sparkle in his eyes were worth the experience alone as he discovered that putting the panel approximately one inch from the CFL bulb produced just over three volts of power. That's two AA batteries worth of voltage coming out of the bulb. Currently, he is experimenting on ways to harness the total power of the CFL in order to create a self-sustaining circuit. Quite impressive for a 13 year-old. So far, we haven't been able to create a self-sustaining lamp. But he is determined to do so.

Although the power provided by some of these items are indeed miniscule when you consider the grand scope of things, it is still an exhilarating discovery to the children to find other means of power. There is more to light than many of us realize and seeing the discoveries through the eyes of the children can open our own imaginations. Broaden their horizons by subjecting them to a power source that is superior to others in a variety of ways.

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17@gmail.com. Image attribution freedigitalphotos.net.

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Topics: Guest Post, Renewable Energy

Solar Lighting Solutions Provide Green Alternatives for Businesses

Posted by SEPCO

4/11/13 9:30 AM

Solar Lighting SolutionsToday businesses are looking for solutions to save money and become greener. With all the different options on the market to help businesses achieve their goal, solar lighting can be great solution. Solar lights save energy, lower costs and showcase a green attitude.

Interior solar light solutions include skylights and light tubes that use reflectors to bring in natural light to any interior space. These lights provide natural light during daytime and require no energy from the grid to operate. Natural light is also healthier for the people inside the building.

Exterior solar LED lighting solutions run at night and provide security to visitors and employees. The lights charge during the day and store the energy provided by the solar panel in a battery assembly. At dusk, the solar panel acts as a photo sensor and turns the light on. The lights either run all night or for a custom set of operations that are easily programmable.

If electrical lights are still needed inside or outside the building, fluorescent lamps can be a great choice. They consume little electric and provide good lighting. However, they also can cause heath issues to employees.

LEDs provide a much brighter and cleaner light to improve visibility. Also, LEDs consume very little energy and provide more efficient lighting with less power consumption. A typical replacement LED will consume five times lower power than traditional lamps.

The costs of both installations can be higher, but since no grid energy is used to provide the lighting, the payback period or return on investment is quick. Both types of lighting provide a more natural light that is easier to see by and improves the overall health of employees and customers.

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Topics: Solar Lighting

Renewable Energy: Companies are Going Clean

Posted by SEPCO

4/9/13 9:30 AM

Green CompaniesIt seems more and more companies are starting to look to clean energy as a source of power. Apple recently announced 75 percent of its corporate facilities and data centers use renewable sources for power and they own the nation’s biggest privately-owned solar array. Their 100-acre, 20-megawatt facility can create 42 million kWh of renewable energy each year with less impact on the environment and climate. Apple is not the only powerhouse company jumping on the clean energy bandwagon. Google uses renewable sources to power more than 30 percent of their operations and is working toward ultimately having 100 percent of their power come in the form of clean energy.

Renewable sources include wind, solar, hydro and geothermal power, and these have a more positive effect on our environment, climate and health than fossil fuels or coal. Unfortunately, the world is very dependent upon these fuels for electricity and power generation and in the United States, they are the number one source for global warming emissions and a major contributor in air pollution. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, renewable energy resources generate electricity with few negative effects, and could provide up to 40 percent of the country’s electricity within the next 20 years. The installation costs can be pretty high and it may not be possible to fulfill all of your energy requirements from renewable energy like Apple and Google want to do, but by using the most effective technologies, a company can get close. The benefits of using clean energy generally outweigh any downsides.

After the cost of installation, solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal energy systems cost nothing to run. Most will need periodic maintenance, but these sources could produce enough electricity to create excess. Plus, if you use an hourglass slewing drive within the system, you can get 30 years of reliable performance and cut back costs even more.

  • Sticking to natural energy sources means you won’t be affected when gas and electricity prices increase.
  • Users of clean energy don’t need to worry about wastage because it can be regenerated.
  • Focusing on renewable energy sources allows for the remaining oil, gas and coal supplies to last longer and be used where clean energy can’t be substituted.
  • The government may be able to help fund a project if it creates renewable energy.

Author Bio: Kinematics is the world's largest slewing drive manufacturer with a production capacity of over 4,200 units per week. Kinematics Manufacturing Inc. began in 1996 as a small operation outside of Los Angeles. Founder, Brent Morgan, designed specialty gearboxes, then machined, assembled and shipped them one at a time from a small, 50 m2 rented space. Kinematics delivers custom-engineered solutions to customers in 23 countries from its 14,500 m2 facility in Jiangsu, China and two distribution warehouses in Europe and the United States.

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Topics: Clean Energy, Renewable Energy

The Advantages of LED Lights for the Environment

Posted by SEPCO

4/4/13 9:30 AM

Taking care of the environment is a responsibility that everyone should feel accountable for. Most of us are already aware of environmentally friendly processes such as recycling to minimise the amount of waste we produce and reduce our carbon footprint. However, a lot of people are unaware of new and upcoming technologies that we can use to help reduce carbon emissions. A good example of this is LED lighting, which provides many environmental advantages.

Energy Efficient

LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting such as fluorescent and incandescent lights. 95% of the energy in LEDs is converted into light and only 5% is wasted as heat. This is compared to fluorescent lights which convert 95% of energy to heat and only 5% into light! LED lights also draw much less power than traditional lighting; a typical 84 watt fluorescent can be replaced by a 36 watt LED to give the same level of light. Less energy use reduces the demand from power plants and decreases greenhouse gas emissions.

LEDlightsense

No Toxic Elements

LED lights contain no toxic elements. Most offices currently use fluorescent strip lights which contain noxious chemicals such as mercury. This will contaminate the environment when disposed of in landfill waste.  Disposal has to be arranged through a registered waste carrier so switching to LED avoids the cost and time implications required for compliant disposal – and helps to protect the environment from further toxic waste.

Less Lights Needed

LEDs have a better quality of light distribution and focus light in one direction as opposed to other types of lighting which waste energy by emitting light in all directions, often illuminating areas where light isn’t required (such as the ceiling). This means that less LED lights are needed to achieve the same level of brightness given off by fluorescents and incandescent lights. Fewer lights will reduce energy consumption and will therefore be a benefit to the environment.

Life span

A longer life span means lower carbon emissions. LED Lights last up to six times longer than other types of lights, reducing the requirement for frequent replacements. This results in using fewer lights and hence fewer resources are needed for manufacturing processes, packaging materials and transportation.

Author:  Alex Connell, Public Relations Officer at LED LightSense. Alex builds a good reputation for the organisation and manages its relationship with the public. He is also a writer promoting the environmental and performance benefits of LED lights.

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Topics: LED Lighting

Flagpole Lighting Design to Showcase Your Patriotism

Posted by SEPCO

4/2/13 8:30 AM

Flagpole Lighting DesignShowing off your patriotism all starts with the flag pole in your front yard. This showcases the pride you feel for your country for all who pass by, both day and night. Of course, to ensure everyone who drives and walks past at night are able to see the flag, you need to have appropriate lighting directed towards the top of the pole. There are many different ways to go about utilizing an appropriate flagpole lighting design, but there are some methods that are just going to cost far to much money. It shouldn't cost an excessive amount of money to showcase your patriotism. Instead, with the appropriate equipment, you are able to utilize the current flagpole lighting design and point out the American flag, whether it is in the middle of the day or late at night.

The main issue with lighting around your nighttime display is the overall cost of keeping the flag highlighted. Turning on high-profile lighting equipment for hours at a time is going to increase your monthly utility bill rather substantially, which is why you need to look for another option. This doesn't mean you need to take down your flag during the night, or just go without individuals seeing the display. Instead, you just need to invest in a solar flagpole lighting design. With the solar equipment you're able to improve the ability to highlight the flag at the same time you save a good deal of money over the monthly utility bill.

Solar lighting equipment allows the hardware to actually absorb solar rays throughout the day, as the lighting equipment is not needed during these hours. This gives the different spotlights an extended period of time to absorb and store enough energy in order to produce a strong beam of light during the night. Once the sun goes down the lighting equipment is able to detect the lack of sunlight and automatically turn on. These devices are selfsustaining and don't require any sort of direct connection to your electrical line. This way, no matter the time of year or how long the nights are where you live, you are always able to display your patriotism and highlight your American flag at all hours of the night, without actually costing yourself any sort of money due to expensive utility bills. After the installation, there is minimal maintenance required for your solar lighting equipment.
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Topics: Flagpole Lighting

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