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Pros & Cons Solar Powered Lights

Posted by SEPCO on 4/19/16 10:00 AM

 

Ko Olina Golf Course Solar Powered Lights for Parking Lot

Solar powered lights have become very popular within the last decade as fossil fuels have become more expensive and more companies and people are looking for ways to provide a sustainable / green alternative. Solar lights are an obvious and more affordable “off-grid” solution in comparison to solar panels for your roof in a grid tied system.In general, solar lights have a lot of advantages, such as an absence of power plugs and the simplicity of installation, but are solar powered lights good enough to replace your readily available electrical lights? Read to find out! 

Here are some salient points about solar lighting:

Pros:

  • Solar lights are the greener option because they do not run on electricity and therefore do not require standard electrical power

  • Solar lights are easily installed and moved to the required location since all the wiring is located on the same pole

  • Solar lights provide a gentle light since the power is limited and LEDs operate more efficiently off 12VDC power than AC power

  • Grants and Tax Incentives are still going strong to help lower the cost of solar (see www.dsireusa.org for more information)

  • Each solar light operates independent from the next (except for certain applications such as signs, billboards, etc.)

  • Low voltage provided by the solar panels is safe to work with and does have the same hazards as AC lighting

  • LEDs with directional lighting provide more light where it is needed and less where it is not

  • Fixture styles are versatile to many different application and architectural requirements

Cons:

  • Color of solar light can be too blue with some style of LEDs, which does not compliment the landscape; however, understanding CRI will ensure you are not getting a light that is too blue

  • Some less expensive units can be flimsy and not lasting as long as commercially designed systems; do research before any purchase

  • There is no solar power at night so there is a need for a large battery bank to operate the lights; make sure you have the correct autonomy for your area

  • Depending on geographical location, the size of the solar panels vary for the same power generation due to available solar insolation in the winter

Exterior Solar Lighting Fixtures

The key to a good exterior solar lighting system is to get the maximum amount of light – or lumens – for the minimum electricity or Watts needed. This is tricky since some lights illuminate as a byproduct of heat and use lots of electricity (relatively speaking) to the amount of light produced, typically Metal Halide and Sodium lights. Remembering that brighter is not always better, nor is higher wattage vs lower wattage. Having a lighting layout completed by a lighting engineer is the best way to ensure that the lighting requirements are met by any light that is installed.

Do you think the pros outweigh the cons? Let us know below.

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2012 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

Topics: Solar Lighting, General Lighting

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