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SEPCO is the worldwide leader in solar lighting and off grid solar power systems. We are helping the world go green by taking the lights off the grid.

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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

Finding Funds for Nonprofits Renewable Energy Projects

Posted by SEPCO

8/26/14 9:30 AM

Money_for_Non_ProfitsMany organizations do not qualify for the renewable energy tax credits since they are nonprofit. That seems unfair since there is little incentive to get these types of organizations to utilize renewable energy. This bothered me and so I did some research and here is what I found that nonprofit organizations, such as churches, HOA’s and other organizations can do to gather the funds to utilize solar energy without killing their bottom line.

Grants

There are still grants that are available and nonprofits can qualify for these. Grants can be difficult to find, but with a little research, you may be able to find one that fits your needs best. Some great information can be found on the Energy.gov, FedCenter.gov and EPA.gov website about funding and financing of renewable energy project. Also talking to your local community representative may help find what local incentives are available for renewable energy projects. If there is nothing currently available, you can work on possibly sparking an interest and getting them to consider it in the near future.

Fundraising

Fundraising is a great way to get your community involved in your renewable energy efforts. You can hold something as simple as a spaghetti dinner or bake sale that can end up generating quite a bit of funds. You can also dedicate a plaque to larger donors of the project. As long as you make your community feel involved in the process, they will be happy to step forward and take a sense of pride in the project.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is becoming hugely popular as a way to run get funds for a project by giving different level of incentives to help gain more traction. I’m sure by now you have heard of the Potato Salad at Kickstarter to more relevant Solar Roadways at Indigogo that gained some huge traction. Once you create your campaign, sharing it with your community is the first step, but having them share it out can allow those who would like to help your cause, but may not be located nearby, become a part of your project.

Leasing

Some organizations have gone through a leasing agency who can take care of the tax credits and grants search and claiming paperwork and your organization can still benefit. Instead of paying full price, there are leasing organizations that will take an additional discount off your system and then lease it back to you over the course of a number of years. You get a lower price and can slowly pay off your system instead of needing the total amount in one lump sum.

These are just a few options to those nonprofit organizations that still want to utilize renewable energy sources and complete projects to help make their organization a little greener to gain the funds for their projects. What other options have you heard of? We’d love to be able to add more to our list and help all organizations be able to put their green foot forward.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Tax Incentives, Solar Rebates, Funding

Solar Powered Kiosk Shelters for Campuses and Parks

Posted by SEPCO

8/21/14 9:30 AM

Art-Craft-Sign-2Kiosk shelters are a great way to relay information to people visiting a campus or a park. Kiosks can show them useful information such as location maps, events, specials and advertisements. Traditional kiosks are installed all over areas typically not having access to a traditional power source. A great way to light these so the information is available after dark is by utilizing solar kiosk lighting.

With a solar kiosk light system you are able to provide lighting to the information when it is still needed after dark. This allows visitors to easily see where they are, where they may need to go, and some other useful information you may provide. And the systems are typically quite small as they would only need to run until the visitors would no longer be in the area, such as a park closing or classes are over.

Aurora Higher Education Center uses our solar lighting systems for kiosks around the campus to provide information to visitors and students, especially for night class attendants. The systems run for 6 hours after dusk to maximize efficiency and lower the overall size requirements of the system. The costs of trenching in the power to kiosk locations can be costly and AHEC was looking for a renewable aspect while also providing power to kiosk areas that had no electric nearby.

Solar powered kiosk shelters also can be placed around transit areas to help visitors to a city find their next destination and view transit routes easily. This works great for local businesses that would like to attract visitors to their establishment. The kiosk can also serve as a shelter when the weather isn’t favorable. Larger solar powered systems can even provide mobile device charging stations.

Have a kiosk that requires lighting and no power available? Contact us for a free project analysis and see what SEPCO’s solar lighting systems can do for you.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Kiosk Lighting

How To Clean and Maintain Your Solar Light or Power System

Posted by SEPCO

8/19/14 9:30 AM

Solar Light Cleaning and Maintaining

Since there are no moving parts to a solar lighting or solar power system, maintenance is quite easy and doesn’t need to be performed often. Even if your system is at a slope and it rains often where you live, buildup of dirt and debris can still accumulate on the solar panels. There are a few things to do once a year to ensure the system runs at peak performance year after year.

Clean the Solar Panels

Cleaning the solar panels on any system is quite easy and does not take much time. Creating a solution of soap and water, using a soft brush and squeegee will get your solar panels back to their installed luster. You need to do this early in the day, before they start to really heat up from the sun. This is similar to washing your car, and with the steps below, you will be done in no time.

  1. Hose off the panels to wet them down and wash off any loose dirt and dust.
  2. Take your soft bristle brush and soapy water and scrub down the panels. Take mind to any hard to get off spots by gently using your finger or allowing the soap to soak for a minute or two and try again.
  3. Rinse the panels off thoroughly making sure to leave no soapy residue.
  4. Use the squeegee to remove all water to leave no water spots when it dries.

Other Maintenance

While you are there working on cleaning the panels, this is a great time to check all connections for any problems such as chewed wires or conduit, inspect the light fixture (if there is one) for any problems from weather, vandalism or wildlife, and make any replacement or repairs as needed. This is also a great time to replace the batteries if it has been between five and seven years.

That is all there is to cleaning and maintaining your solar light or power system. If you discover any issues, you can contact the manufacturer to troubleshoot the system further or purchase replacement parts. You can also check out our quick and easy troubleshooting guide for more information on any issues you may come across.
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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Power

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