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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

Uses for Discharge Lamps

Posted by SEPCO

2/20/14 9:30 AM

lampWhat are some of the main uses for discharge lamps? This type of lamp involves an internal electrical discharge being created between two electrodes in a gas filled chamber; the level of intensity generated by a discharge lamp can vary, and can range from low level wattage bulbs through to extreme intensities that can be used for filling large areas with light. There are consequently many different uses for discharge lamps. It’s worth looking at these uses and the kinds of discharge lamps available, in more detail. 

Discharge lamps can be highly effective at maintaining luminosity for an extended period of time. Their applications extend across a range of domestic and commercial areas, and are affected by the type of gas being used. For example, mercury discharge lamps can provide particularly high levels of brightness for outdoor use, as can sodium lights, which can produce the orange glow seen on street lamps. Fluorescent lights can also be used to create low pressure and constant levels of luminosity. 

Some of the other common uses for discharge lamps include neon signs, whereby electrodes are used with tubing to create different letters and graphics; the process of creating a neon light is fairly complex, and involves glassblowing and setting up different colors. Neon or mercury vapor with some argon elements are the common components for these tubes, which require high voltage sources to be able to run efficiently. 

In the case of high intensity discharge lamps, outdoor arenas can be lighted using lamps with extremely high voltages; lumen bulbs can also be used for smaller outdoor areas and warehouses, as well as on roadways to create long lasting, high intensity illumination. Indoor gardening can also be aided by the use of low intensity discharge lamps, as can underwater diving and bicycle headlamps, with each use employing different levels of intensity. 

When setting up discharge lamps, it’s necessary to fit a control gear, which acts as a transformer for the amount of charge passing through a bulb or tube. There are several different types of control gears available, which can include inductive control gears and electronic control gears, with the latter capable of limiting the amount of current passing through a lamp. Control gears can similarly be used to ignite lamps, and represent an important way of maintaining health and safety levels for different devices. 

Whatever the usage of a discharge lamp, it’s crucial to be able to understand the different amounts of current and voltage that’s being used; high intensity discharge lamps are particularly susceptible to overheating, and should be carefully monitored using iron ballasts and control gears. Lamps that contain sodium and mercury can also present a toxic risk, and should be carefully disposed of if they break. To this end, it’s important to make sure that you read up on the different types of discharge lamps available from suppliers before committing to a particular power level.

Author Bio:Tom Darnell blogs about effective lighting solutions for your home and his experiences as an electrician. He recommends using BLTDirect to pick up the latest discharge lamps. 

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Topics: General Lighting, Guest Post

Dark Sky Friendly Lighting is Necessary Now More Than Ever

Posted by SEPCO

1/14/14 9:30 AM

Ever look at a map from a satellite in orbit? Notice all the lights that you can see. What about looking up at night to find the stars in the sky? How much do you not actually see due to light pollution? These are some serious questions that are starting to be asked by more people. Light pollution is becoming a problem and dark sky friendly lighting is the key to solving this issue.


What makes a dark sky friendly light?

A dark sky friendly light provides a distinct light pattern that is shielded from casting light above top of the fixture. This provides lighting only towards the ground where the lighting is required. It also uses the needed light levels and not over lighting an area which will reflect the light back up into the atmosphere. Finally, the lights should be turned off when not needed.

Non-dark sky light fixtures cast light in all directions, including upwards. This wastes energy, causes a twilight effect that confuses wildlife and disturbs breeding patterns. It also produces a glare for people driving on roads that can be distracting and tiresome for eyes.


Why are dark sky lights important?

Dark sky lighting is important as light pollution disrupts ecosystems and threatens astronomy. On top of that, the wasted light costs a lot in wasted energy, about $2.2 billion per year, in the US alone. Dark sky friendly fixtures push the lighting down where it is actually needed and not up into the atmosphere. This provides less glare and light pollution allowing wildlife to resume their natural rhythm as well as allowing astronomers, both large and small, to enjoy the night sky and be able to see the stars above.


How to easily make the change?

IDA-communityMaking the switch to dark sky friendly lighting is simple by changing the fixture to an IDA approved dark sky friendly fixture. Looking for the IDA seal provided by the International Dark-Sky Association on fixture specifications or talking to your lighting representative for their recommendation is the first step. Lighting levels are typically better than non-dark sky fixtures as lighting is cast only in a downward pattern towards the ground where the lighting is needed.

Talk to your lighting representative if you have fixture that push light in all directions and are not dark sky approved. You can also make sure to use dark sky fixtures on any new lighting projects. By switching the lighting to a full cutoff, dark sky approved fixtures will allow us to reclaim our nights and enjoy all the beauty they hold.

Img Src: The Telegraph

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Topics: General Lighting, Conservation, Dark Sky Friendly Lighting

Use Solar Outdoor Lighting for Energy Efficiency

Posted by SEPCO

11/29/12 9:30 AM

Commercial Solar Outdoor LightingLighting up any space, be it residential or commercial, can be an expensive endeavor. Between the cost of trenching, wiring and installation can make the lighting expensive to implement. And then after that you have the electrical costs every month to pay. Depending on the type and intensity of the light this can eat up a budget quickly.

Using solar outdoor lighting systems to provide the lighting can greatly reduce costs, help improve the environment and keep the electrical costs back in the bank where it belongs. Outdoor solar lights do not require any additional trenching or wiring since each unit provides its own power to the fixture. Installation is simple since all you have to do is set the pole and go. The light works on its own.

Small outdoor solar lights for homeowners are simple to install. Most come mounted on a stake that gets installed just about anywhere the light is required. There are even roof mounted solar flood lights that are motion activated and are used for security of the home and property. These lights can be found just about anywhere and provide the perfect solution for most homeowner applications.

Solar Outdoor LightingLarge solar lights for outdoors such as parking lot lighting, street lighting, security lighting, etc. require much more powerful lights that only a commercial solar light manufacturer can provide. These lights need to provide more foot-candles for people to be able to see properly. Electrical engineers can provide the requirements depending on the installation and the commercial solar lighting manufacturer can provide a lighting layout showing the requirements are able to be met.

Large scale solar light projects have a higher upfront cost; however, they provide a quick return on investment, especially if providing lighting to an area with no existing electrical infrastructure. Most commercial solar lights have a single power assembly for each light, typically installed on the top of the pole, and provides power to the light fixture all night. Other run profiles can be set up during the initial specification process. Other configurations include a large power system providing power to multiple fixtures. This is the only time additional wiring is required.

The energy benefits to each type of solar outdoor lighting is great since there is not additional costs after installation and they do not require the electrical grid to operate. With the number of power outages that happen all over, this will increase security. Best of all, they provide environmental benefits such as they do not use any fossil fuels or non-renewable energy resource. They get all the power they require from the sun, something that will be around for quite some time and is so far free for us to use.

Check out a great comparison of standard electrical lights versus solar lighting. You may be surprised to see the difference.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, General Lighting

Lighting a Commercial Space Needs to Be Energy Efficient

Posted by SEPCO

11/6/12 9:30 AM

Commercial LightingCommercial lighting is used in offices, shops and other organizations. It needs to be functional, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly, but also inexpensive to install and run. There are many different options that can match these lighting needs that can be found both on and off line.

Commercial lighting is manufactured by a variety of specialists who work with other experts such as engineers and architects to provide the optimum lighting levels with functionality. Such lighting is supplied and installed on a large scale and has different standards and requirements from the types of lighting we use in our homes.

Commercial light fittings need to be functional and energy efficient. The lighting needs to look streamlined and have hard wearing properties. Weather resistant lighting needs to be used in exterior applications to provide years of functionality. The different types of lighting range from fluorescent, LED, uplighting, track lighting, etc. and floodlights and security lighting the outside of building. Parking lot lighting is also required for safety of people coming and going from the buildings.

Depending on the type and needs of the building, commercial lighting specialists can provide different lighting methods and provide lighting layouts to the customer. Retail lighting needs to provide the function of making a shoppers experience enjoyable without being intrusive or glaring. The light needs to show products in the best light but is not harsh to the eyes. Office lighting needs to make a busy environment conducive to work in. Most offices use long fluorescent tube lighting as it can provide maximum illumination, but is considerably cheaper to run than other lighting products. Fluorescent lighting also produces very little heat which makes a working environment more comfortable and lowers the cooling costs of the company.

Buildings can have many rooms including kitchens and bathrooms. Lighting specialists can provide classic, contemporary and traditional lighting solutions to fit into the architectural design of the building. Wherever the organization is located, it is possible to find commercial lighting specialists to provide the best, most environmentally friendly and economical lighting solutions. They work with architects, engineers, designers and electrical contractors who install the lights to meet the lighting needs of their clients and customers. 

The best place to start your research for a good commercial lighting company is online. There are thousands of lighting companies out there, so do your diligence and research what each company can provide you. 

Author Bio: Emily Hall runs a successful business of commercial lighting. She has a huge client base that includes famous industrialists to hotels and restaurant owners.

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Topics: General Lighting, Guest Post

How To Create a Better Solar Street Light Specification

Posted by SEPCO

8/7/12 9:30 AM

SolarStreetLightSpecificationBefore examining the means with which to create a BETTER solar street light specification, let’s start by taking a closer look at very bad solar street light specification from a recently released bid—as there is much to be learned in the process.

  • Purchase and delivery of 10 solar street light systems with the following salient characteristics:
    • Solar panel
    • Sealed lead acid battery
    • Solid state system controller that regulates batteries and has a low voltage disconnect
    • Light fixture with LED lamp that produces good street lighting
    • Light fixture mounting bracket
    • Entire solar lighting system mounted to a pole

The primary reason why this specification is so bad is because it is too vague and thus open to a host of different interpretations.   The net result will most likely lead to the purchase of cheap solar street lighting systems that offer poor performance, reliability and return on investment (all of which, quite frankly,  gives the solar lighting industry as a whole a bad reputation)

Solar Street Light Specification
The only sure way to avoid this situation is create a detailed specification that establishes precise solar street lighting system design and performance parameters including:

  • Solar Array
    • Type and number of solar module(s) used in the array
    • Total solar array wattage
    • How is solar array mounted to the pole
  • Light Fixture
    • Type of Light fixture
    • Type of lamp
    • Salient characteristics of light fixture
    • Fixture bracket arm
    • Fixture mounting height
  • Light Level  Requirements
    • Specify area to be illuminated (ex. 2 lane street, each lane 12’ wide with no median, light pole set back 5’ from edge of street)
    • Light level requirements—the more detail the better (ex. lighting on street must be .3 foot candle average with lighting uniformity rations under 10:1)
    • Note:  Never specify light levels according to ‘equivalency’ (i.e. LED fixture equivalent to 150 Watt metal halide) –as this type of spec  lends itself to many different interpretations!   Such is not the case with foot candle specification as a foot candle is a quantifiable measurement of light
  • System Controller
    • Type/description of system controller
    • Detailed description of nightly system operation—which is critically important to ensure the solar lighting system meets needs
      • Ex.  Dusk + 6 hours at full 40 Watt fixture intensity…dimming to 20 Watt intensity…returning to full 40 Watt intensity 1 hour pre-dawn.
  • Battery
    • Type of battery
    • Total amp hours of battery
    • Autonomous battery storage to ensure reliable year round system performance
      • Note:  5 nights of battery storage should be a minimum (in certain parts of the world more than 5 nights of autonomous battery storage needs to be specified to help ensure ultra-reliable year round system performance
    • Salient characteristics of battery box and battery box mount
  • Light Pole
    • Type of pole
    • Light pole must support the total weight and EPA of the specified solar power street lighting system in MPH wind loads for your particular area

With these design and performance parameters incorporated woven into the specification, there is no question that the buyer will ultimately get high quality solar power street lighting systems at the best possible price.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, General Lighting, LED Lighting

How Can Eco Lighting Save the World?

Posted by SEPCO

7/26/12 9:30 AM

Okay, well that might be a long shot, but eco lighting has tons of benefits and can not only lower your power usage in the home or office, it can do so much more. Eco lighting, or eco-friendly lighting as it is sometimes called, is being phased in while older, non-eco lighting is being phased out. Here is a great video I found at Inhabitat that explains it all.

As the video states, old incandescent light bulbs are being phased out over the next three years. I’ve already changed out my light bulbs to CFL’s, but now that LED’s are becoming main stream, I can’t wait to change them over to LED’s. With more color options, no mercury, longer life and lower wattages needed for the same light; LED’s will definitely be the go to option.

So eco lighting may not be able to save the world all on its own, but it is a step in the right direction. Lowering power consumption in the home or office, or even on the streets, will in turn lower the need for non-renewable energy sources. This in turn will reduce the amount of energy required by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. If we cut the amount of energy needed for lighting by 10% or more, the amount of renewable energy is that much less and the cost of installing is lower. Sounds like a win-win to me. What do you think?

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Topics: General Lighting, Clean Energy

Solar Power Street Light Design: Step by Step

Posted by SEPCO

7/5/12 9:30 AM

Solar Power Street LightEver wonder how solar powered street light projects are designed? Here is a step by step guide.

Step 1 – Find area in need of street lights

The first thing to figure out is the length of road in need of street lights. This can be a small entrance road only a couple hundred of feet long to miles of streets through an area. Does the area currently have any type of lighting available? What is the reason for needing street lights in this area?

Step 2 – Find out if electric is available

Is the electrical grid already nearby or would you need to call in the power company to bring in electrical lines? If the electric needs to be brought to the area, how much is this going to cost? Depending on how far the grid electric is from the location of the needed lighting, this can be quite expensive.

Step 3 – Determine the lighting requirements

How much lighting is needed on the street? Do the lights need to be dark sky compliant? Do the street lights need to run from dusk to dawn or for only a specified number of hours at night? Are the street lights able to dim in the middle of the night and still provide enough lighting? These questions need to be answered before you can decide on how many lights you will need to complete the project.

Step 4 – Find all alternatives

Solar power street lights are an option to traditional electrical lights. Solar street lights do not need the electrical grid to be brought in as they are self-contained units that provide their own electric. LED street light fixtures provide the best lighting solution by using lower amounts of power, better optics, dimming features where needed, and cost less in an overall solution.

Step 5 – Contact companies for quotes

The last step after gathering the above information is to contact companies for quotes. Just like with anything else, get multiple quotes and weigh the pros and cons of every company and situation. The lowest quote is not always the best, so make sure to do your research on companies and products before you submit a purchase order.

If you take your time, do your research, and gather needed requirements, your next street lighting project will be a success. Never be afraid to ask a lot questions, they may save you time and money in the long run.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, General Lighting, Street Lighting

Eco-Friendly Building with Solar Powered Parking Lot Lights

Posted by SEPCO

5/31/12 7:30 AM

So you are building a new place of business or are taking over an existing building that has no lighting available. Well there is something you can do that will keep costs low, provide a sustainable option, and the installation will preserve the already installed structures. What more could you ask for.

Hilo Parking LotSolar powered parking lot lights can be installed even on an already existing parking lot since all the wiring and electric needed is located at the top of the pole. There is no need to rip up the existing parking area to bring in outside electric, just set the pole, put the solar power assembly at the top with the solar light fixture below, and wait for dark. The light will automatically come on at dusk and run.





Decorative Parking Lot LightDon’t want standard parking lot fixtures? That’s fine. With solar powered LED light fixtures there are many options available today. Decorative style solar light fixtures can be used to provide architectural fixtures that work well with the surrounding area. These fixtures can also provide directional lighting for less light pollution.







Roof Mount Solar Parking Lot LightWhat about building perimeters you ask? Solar lights can do that as well. There are wall mounted fixtures that can have the solar mounted on the wall or roof of the building. One solar power system can even provide power to multiple fixtures or even the lighted sign on the building.


Finally, if you don’t want to pay a power company to power your lights, solar is a great option. Since solar power is renewable and doesn’t cost anything, there are no additional costs to power companies. Check out a great study on the cost difference between solar lights and electric lights.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, General Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

Anatomy of a Solar Street Light

Posted by SEPCO

5/15/12 9:30 AM

Solar Powered Street Light

Solar street lights are becoming more popular as a green alternative is becoming the go to option for sustainability.  Solar street lights provide a better value for cost, optimum lighting, a renewable source of energy, lower maintenance, and easier installation. With all these factors added up, solar street lights can be the best replacement for most applications.

The lights are grid free and can run under reliably under most any condition, even in the snow covered winters or after a hurricane. The lights can run from dusk to dawn or any other needed operating configuration. They can even reduce light pollution by using cutoff fixtures and aimed optics through new LED technology.

What powers a solar street light?

Solar street lights are comprised of a solar panel assembly mounted to the top of the pole. The solar power system is wired to a battery assembly either located directly under the solar panel assembly or in the pole’s base. The solar panels charge the batteries during the day to provide the needed energy for operation of the solar light at night.

What about the fixture?

The solar street light fixture is located on a bracket below the solar power assembly. The fixture can operate many different types of lamps depending on the needs of the area. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED) are the most common types of lamp configurations used with solar powered street lights. High pressure sodium (HPS) and induction are also available.

There is no standard street light fixture, although a Cobrahead style fixture is the most typically used. With new LED technology available, street light fixtures are changing to be more architecturally pleasing while keeping with the high intensity light used with the Cobrahead style. These architectural fixtures fit in perfectly with urban and downtown areas.

How does the solar light work?

As stated before, the solar panel charges the battery during daylight hours. When the sun sets, the solar panel acts as a photocell and turns the light fixture on. The control electronics keeps the light on from dusk to dawn, from dusk for a set number of hours, or many other operating profiles available with commercial solar street light systems. Simple.

So there you have it. A solar street light provides an all in one solution to a lighting application. There is no need to trench since all the power needed is located at the top of the pole, and even if there is a brown or blackout, these solar powered lights will still be going.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, General Lighting, Street Lighting

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