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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Solar Parking Lot Retrofit for St Augustine Beach Pier Park

Posted by SEPCO

7/15/14 9:30 AM

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In January of 2012 the City of St Augustine Beach issued plans for the re-lighting of the Pier Park parking lot. The project was officially called “City of St Augustine Beach FL Pier Park lighting retrofit” for the parking lot. The City had just recently completed the construction of a community pavilion and a new sea / beach walkway that ran between the parking lot and beach. The previous use for the area was just a parking lot for access to the pier. With the addition of the pavilion and walkway, with the pier, the area now has a park setting where families can enjoy the beach and picnic in the pavilion. The City also now uses the area for community events, such as arts shows, small outdoor concerts and food events.

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SEPCO worked together with WFLI in Jacksonville to complete the lighting design for the City of St Augustine Beach. The existing lighting consisted of randomly placed 20ft wood poles that had 100 watt high pressure sodium cobra-head style lighting fixtures mounted to them. The new lighting design approach was to use full cut-off LED fixtures of a contemporary style to compliment the pavilion and new landscaping with the following design considerations:

  •          Appropriate pole and luminaire mounting heights.
  •          Pole shape that allowed for various mounting conditions.
  •          Height of solar panels.
  •          Height of adjacent palm trees.
  •          Light source color for general parking area and turtle friendly areas.
  •          Orientation of site on north-south axis.
  •          Luminaire  requirements of having AC and DC drivers.

The height of the new palm trees was determined to be approximately 22 to 24 feet. Our design intent was to have the height of the solar panels be just above the height of the palm trees to ensure sunlight was not blocked. The six poles that had the solar arrays mounted on top of them were 5ft higher than the other AC powered poles. The mounting height of the luminaires was to be 15ft for all fixtures. A round tapered concrete pole was selected for is durability and appearance. This shape pole also allowed for proper southward facing solar panels regardless of which direction the luminaire faced.

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The overall project requirements called for 38 LED fixtures, 6 of which were the amber LED.  Along the sea walkway, the lighting there was to utilize the same LED fixture but using amber LED’s to comply with the turtle friendly lighting requirements. The light levels were designed to IESNA recommendations of 1.0fc average. The LED fixture selected used 73 watts of power. The LED driver used in the fixture was standard 0-10 volt dimming. A 5K color temperature with CRI of 80 was used for the parking area and a 2K color 580nm amber LED used for the sea walk area.

The City had applied to the Department of Energy for a grant to utilize solar power for a portion of this project. They were awarded a grant which allowed them to have 6 of the 38 LED fixtures powered by solar array panels. The 6 fixtures selected for solar power were the ones in the middle of the parking lot as they were the first to be seen upon entry to the parking lot. The project shows the Cities desire to promote “green” initiatives and integrate solar powered lighting as often as possible.

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In addition to the use of LED lighting, part of the project scope was to use a lighting control system that allowed automatic control of the light levels for the standard AC wired fixtures.The AC light fixtures, due to their use of the grid power, dim to 50% intensity part of the night to reduce the standard electrical power consumption. The off grid solar lights utilize enough energy from the solar to provide 100% intensity all night without using any energy from the grid.

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Topics: SEPCO News & Information, Parking Lot Lighting, Solar Lighting Design

6 Steps for Businesses Who Are Ready to Light Their Parking Lots

Posted by SEPCO

5/29/14 9:30 AM

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Want to provide more safety and security to customers and employees? Provide good lighting to prevent theft and vandalism. Here are six steps to completing a lighting project for a business parking lot.

Step 1 – Identify the area that is requiring lighting

What is the total size of your parking lot? How many cars can it fit? Does the parking lot wrap around your building or is it just to the front? Identifying the entire area that needs to be lit is the first step in the design process whether the parking lot already exists or is still in development and design phases.

Step 2 – Determine how long the lights need to operate

Is your business open all night or just until 10pm? When do the employees go home? When does it open in the morning? Does the parking lot require all night lighting or can they shut off a couple hours after your business closes and then on again before it opens? The less the lights have to operate, the lower the power usage will be. Even cutting back 3-4 hours a night can provide a drastic change to the energy requirements.

Step 3 – Research the lighting requirements of your area

Different cities have different lighting requirements, especially for businesses. Contact your local municipality to find out what their lighting requirements for your business are. Higher lighting levels can be required in more urban areas where lower lighting levels can sometimes be used in rural areas. Knowing standard IES requirements are also a great place to start when looking into lighting levels.

Step 4 – Speak to your lighting designer

Now that you have determined the area you need illuminated, the time the lights need to operate and the lighting requirements, it is time to talk to your lighting designer. They will help you determine the best fixture, height of fixture mounting, placement, etc. to complete the project successfully. They should also provide you a lighting layout to show you how your design will look once installed.

Step 5 – Figure where the poles would need to be installed

Once you receive your layout from the lighting designer make sure it fits well within the parking lot. Double check and see if poles are going to be installed in medians, on the edge of the roadway, in-between spaces, etc. This is also a good time to determine if you want to use an anchor base or direct burial pole, if the pole needs a foundation, and many other factors that can vary before final installation.

Step 6 – Decide if you want to use solar powered parking lot lights

The final step is to decide if you want solar powered parking lot lights or standard grid tied electrical lights. If your parking lot already exists or is still in development and planning phases, and there is no electric existing where the lights need to be installed, opt for a solar powered solution. This will cost less than bringing in the power lines, especially when trenching the lines or tearing up existing concrete, while also providing you lower costs overall as there will be no electric bill ever for the lighting.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, LED Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting, Solar Lighting Design

Solar Car Park Lighting for Stress Free Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

4/15/14 9:30 AM

solar car park lightingEvery business and building has a car park area where lighting is necessary to provide safety to people and their vehicles. Sometimes the lighting can be an afterthought and forgotten till the concrete is laid. This is where solar car park lighting comes in to save the day.

Instead of digging up that parking lot, placing stand alone solar car park lighting systems can provide the needed lighting without the destruction of the area. Each system generates its own power for the light with all the equipment situated at the top of the pole. The only area that needs to be disturbed on the ground is where the pole is placed.

Solar car park lighting saves time and money by not having to dig up the site to lay down traditional electric wiring. Instead, installing an anchor base pole on a concrete foundation and installing the solar power assembly and light fixture on the top of the pole gives you light in less than a day, not weeks of digging and pouring new concrete.

If you are looking to reduce your overall energy costs with existing lighting, solar car park lighting can still be a great option. Grid intertie systems can put energy back into the grid during the day and use the grid power at night. There is even an option for a battery backup with grid intertie systems in case the area is prone to blackouts.

Finally, for new construction sites, if the grid power is not easily accessible, solar car park lighting systems can provide a savings from trenching in the electric and no grid power fees ever. Even if the power is easily accessible, solar lights are becoming a more popular alternative to showcase a green image and provide LEED certifications. And with the advances in technology, the systems are practically maintenance free. Making sure there is a good autonomy to the system provides longer battery life and with LEDs lasting for 15 years or so, there is almost never anything to replace.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

What Options are Available for Outdoor Solar Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

10/3/13 9:30 AM

Jack-McLean-Park-2In the world of grid connected commercial lighting, there are high installation costs, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance bills, high energy expenses and safety issues. But it doesn't have to be that way. 


Modern outdoor solar lighting has about 1/10th the installation price, there is limited maintenance,  zero energy bills and safety issues are greatly reduced. And, solar lighting is available for a variety of your needs, from parking lots, street lights, area lighting and even such specialized applications like bus and transit stops or industrial applications. 

Take, for example, parking lot lights. With grid supplied lights you'll need to have them professionally installed into your electrical service. Depending on your lot size and whether or not they are a new installation, this may well cost  tens of thousands of dollars. But with solar parking lot lights, you don't tie into the grid. Just put up the pole, orient the solar panel to receive sunlight and you are done. Plus, there is no safer alternative than solar powered parking lot lights. If someone runs into a light pole, there will never be any highly charged and dangerous live wires laying about. And, since it will take years before a battery needs to be replaced, and LED bulbs last virtually forever, having someone go up to "fix" a bad light greatly cuts down on safety concerns. 

Street lighting works the same way. Once they are in place there are no associated electrical costs, there will never be any exposed wires if the pole has been run into, and maintenance becomes a non-issue. 

Local-Transit-4The best outdoor solar lighting applications for commercial area lighting comes with batteries that will hold a charge for 5 full nights. That keeps your area lit up at all times, especially during power outages when there are safety concerns, even if the weather has been cloudy,

Bus and transit stops will always have light with no worry about a bulb burning out, and for industrial applications that require fossil fuel for generators, portable outdoor solar lighting is the answer to reduce costs and bring light to the most remote places where it is needed. 

No matter what your lighting needs are in a commercial setting, there is an outdoor solar lighting option available for you that will save you money, reduce or eliminate maintenance costs and help you go "green" to take advantage of government incentives while becoming eco-conscious. 

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Street Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting, Bus Stop Lighting

Stand Alone Solar Lighting Systems for St. Augustine Beach Pier Park

Posted by SEPCO

10/1/13 8:44 AM

St-Augustine-1St. Johns County was looking to complete improvements into the parking areas at the beach parking and wanted to integrate a renewable aspect. The project was designed to integrate standard AC utility electrial lights while also integrating stand-alone solar lighting systems

The lighting design and engineering firm working on this project needed to be able to have the entire light poles and fixtures match and be both aesthetically pleasing and high performing. We were able to assist with this request by using our partnership with Kim Lighting which allowed us to work together in order to offer our solar power systems to integrate the decorative Curvilinear high Performance LED light fixture into both the solar lighting and utility power design.

The production of the fixture in both AC input and DC input take a lot of background engineering. What is different about AC utility power lights and DC solar stand-alone lights is that the solar system is only as reliable as its design. If the fixture draws 1 watt more it could drain the battery and make the system unreliable and require early battery replacement. This 1 watt will operate for about 14 hours in the winter drawing 14 more watts out of the battery and draining the battery closer to the total depth of discharge.

The solar battery has a life expectancy which is based on the cycling capacity. The more the battery cycles through to its DOD - depth of discharge, the sooner the battery will need to be replaced. With LED lights and electronics lasting much longer, the batteries are the weakest components in the system and need to be properly designed in order to have them have long life cycle.

The project was a success and looks beautifully designed. Direct burial round concrete white poles with solar on the top and the curvilinear fixtures below match in with the pier and parking areas and met the needs that St. Johns County was hoping for.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, LED Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

MDNR Maple Bay State Park Solar Boat Ramp Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

8/29/13 7:30 AM

MDNR Boat Ramp LightingSEPCO was recently contacted by MDNR to provide lighting at the Maple Bay State Park for their boat launch and parking areas. The lights were needed to provide safety to boaters and park goers, but the cost of trenching standard electrical, putting in a meter and boring under the concrete to get the power where they needed it was cost prohibitive. This is where solar lighting was their perfect solution.

Provided were two lights to provide lighting for four hours after dusk and turn back on two hours before dawn. The lighting is provided by a Viper fixture and is powered by a 125 Watt solar power assembly. These systems have a backup of up to 5 days of no sun; which is important in the winter for Michigan.

The installation of the lighting was only part of a large project at the Maple Bay State Park boat launch area. They also provided other features such as a two lane launch ramp, two courtesy piers and vehicle trailer parking areas. They also installed naturalized storm water management system and barrier free accessibility, which greatly enhances the service to the boating public.

This is not the first project completed at a boat ramp in Michigan; however, it is the first to use the bright LED Viper fixture. Our other projects included power flood fixtures using compact fluorescent lamps. With the life expectancy and lumen output of the LEDs being superior, LEDs will surely start to be installed more frequently.
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Topics: Parking Lot Lighting, Boat Ramp Lighting

Solar LED Parking Lot Lights for Oconee Park and Ride

Posted by SEPCO

7/2/13 8:30 AM

Solar LED Parking Lot LightsOther new features of the Oconee Street Park and Ride lot and surrounding area include three new bus shelters, an information kiosk, security cameras, an emergency call station, bicycle lockers for travelers, an upgraded traffic signal at the State Route 10 Inner Loop on-/off-ramps and Oconee Street intersection, area sidewalk and pedestrian crossing improvements, and a U-turn lane at the intersection of Oconee Street and State Route 10 Outer Loop on-/off-ramps.

This project also incorporates many green initiatives, including pervious concrete and celled aggregate parking bays to reduce run-off and encourage recharge of rain water into the underlying soils, rain gardens to provide treatment of contaminated run-off, tree plantings, and solar-powered LED lighting.

Solar Parking Lot LED lightsThe solar powered LED parking lot lighting systems consist of a 340 Watts solar power system with a 448 Amp Hour battery assembly powering a Genesis LED light fixture. This system is sized to provide dusk to dawn lighting with 8 days autonomy for cloudy weather. This ensures the safety and security of the travelers and their vehicles by providing proper lighting for the Oconee Park and Ride.

The Oconee Street Park and Ride was funded through a $2.4 million Federal Transit Administration grant as a Congressional Earmark in 2004 by then-Representative Max Burns. The project was initially approved in May of 2007 by the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission. The Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration were also involved in the planning of the lot. G.P.’s Enterprises Inc. of Auburn, Georgia began construction on the lot in May 2012.

For more information about the Oconee Street Park and Ride lot, call the Athens Transit Information Line at 706-613-3430 or contact Butch McDuffie, Athens Transit Director, at butch.mcduffie@athensclarkecounty.com.
Img Source: http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2013-01-24/oconee-st-park-and-ride-opens-public

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

ODNR Delaware Wildlife Solar LED Parking Lot Lights

Posted by SEPCO

6/18/13 7:30 AM

Solar LED Boat Ramp LightThe Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife (DOW) completed Delaware Lake east boat ramp. The ramp was built in the 1960’s and required a considerable update to improve not only condition, but also safety.  The ramp, parking lot and access road recently got a complete overhaul to better serve the angling and boating public. The old deteriorated ramp and abutment were replaced with a new wider and more visible ADA accessible abutment and a ramp with v-grooves to improve traction. The parking area was redesigned to improve traffic flow and offers 45 parking spaces.  Anglers and boaters using the ramp at night will be aided by two new solar lights. 

This ramp improvement project is made possible by monies generated from the Boater-Angler Fund, a state tax on fuel that motorboat users pay to provide better access to Ohio’s waterways.   

Solar LED Parking Lot LightThe solar lights installed at the park consist of a self-sustaining 340 Watt solar power assembly and battery storage for over 8 days of inclement weather that is common in northern states. The fixture is a Cruzer LED light fixture mounted on a short side of pole tenon bracket to provide the needed light at the boat ramp and parking area. These lights will save money by providing consistent lighting and power with no additional electrical costs to the park.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at http://www.ohiodnr.com/.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

Shading Concerns for Solar Lighting for Parking Lots

Posted by SEPCO

6/4/13 7:30 AM

lighting for parking lotSolar energy is a great source that offers free energy year round. However, the power production of a solar panel can be greatly affected by shading. It is best for each location to be analyzed for optimum sun exposure. SEPCO specializes in stand-alone battery powered systems. Our systems are designed for a specific amount of power for each day or night. Therefore, it is important to be able to calculate exactly how much energy the system is producing as there is not back up power from the electrical grid when shading occurs or there is cloud cover. 

Each project you need to make sure that the installation is free of trees, power lines, building structures and other obstructions to the solar panel. The solar module has electricity that runs through each cell of the module, so just a tiny bit of shading on a module could decline the power production by as much as 40%. There are new technologies that increase the power on the modules or bypass the shaded cells, etc. There are also programs that can complete a shade analysis for the exact locations.  

Most of our designs for North America the solar modules will have a degree of tilt to the south. Keep in mind that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but that the north and south locations will fluctuate during different seasons on the panel as well.  Also note that sometimes a tree line will actually spread out different heights when the sun hits it at different angles. 

Solar modules that have wind turbines, cameras or additional solar modules mounted directly above the panels will prove to be problematic for panel power production.  If your parking lot is a good application for solar power, but there are some trees, make sure to let your solar specialist know by providing an address, site information and details about the height and type of tree so that we can suggest what can be done to verify your systems will not be shaded. 

In lighting for parking lots or roadways with shade structures SEPCO can design a small distribution site of solar in the distance or outside of the tree line, can provide a panel separated from the light pole for single tree issues and we can also design taller poles and lower fixtures to get the solar panels above the tree lines.  We can sometimes overdesign a system to accommodate the power losses and we incorporate technically advanced electronics to lower the standard loses that are experienced from shaded modules.  

If your parking lot would be a great fit for solar power, but you are concerned with the shading, please contact a solar lighting specialist to see if we have a solution to your shading so that you too can benefit from free clean energy of the sun.
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Topics: Solar Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

Fort McHenry Solar Powered Lighting: Blast from the Past

Posted by SEPCO

11/27/12 9:30 AM

Solar Powered Light at Fort McHenry Front GateIn 2001, Fort McHenry installed solar powered street and parking lot lighting for their visitor center in Baltimore, MD. These lights have provided lighting and added security for workers and visitors to the fort. They have also provided cost savings and reduced energy consumption while also allowing for conservation of this historic site.

When you go through the front entrance gate to Fort McHenry, there is a solar light just and the entrance. The small parking lot just inside to the right has a couple solar parking lot lights installed and the road straight ahead is lit by solar powered street lights. Each light works independently from one another and provides a self-sustaining source of power. At the visitor center you will find additional solar powered parking lot lights.

Solar Flag Light for Fort McHenryIn 2009, SEPCO was honored to be chosen to light the Star Spangled Banner with our solar powered led flag lighting system. These lights also run from dusk to dawn and provide high powered lighting to this iconic piece of history. The solar panels, battery assembly, and flood fixtures are all mounted on the roof of the fort.

Solar lights aren’t the only thing that Fort McHenry uses to become more sustainable. They also use geothermal heating and cooling, solar control and materials with high recycled content in their structures. They have received LEED Silver certification and are registered with the Green Building Certification Institute. Fort McHenry has definitely moved in the right direction to become more efficient and environmentally friendly.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, LED Lighting, Street Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting

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