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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

2014 SEPCO Blog Year in Review

Posted by SEPCO

12/30/14 9:30 AM


We wanted to highlight our top 5 articles for 2014 and provide you a little peek at what is coming up in 2015. We also wanted to thank our readers for continuing to come back for more information on solar lighting, solar power, green ideas and renewable energy news and information.

  1. 13 Solar and Lighting Terms to Know

This article covers a lot of terms found in the solar power and lighting industry and what they are actually referencing. This information is great to get you well-informed on industry terms and their meanings when communicating with a solar power or lighting company.

  1. Solar Street Light Components: What’s in Your System?

This article covers the different components that are in a commercial solar lighting system and the variations that can occur. There are many options and knowing what should be included in any commercial solar street lighting system will help you make sure you get all the necessary components to operate the system correctly.

  1. Why a Minimum of Five Days Autonomy is Important for Off Grid Solar

Five days / nights autonomy is required to make sure your solar power / lighting system operates as intended and provides reliability and longevity to the systems. This article covers why this is needed and how, in more northern climates, this can make or break a system.

  1. What You Need To Know About Light Distribution Patterns

Distribution patterns ensure that the required area you need to light is covered by the fixture or fixtures. Different distribution patterns are used for different applications. This article reviews them and explains the different applications each type of light pattern is used for.

  1. 4 Questions to Answer Before You Get a Solar Lighting Quote

There are four primary questions that should be asked before you get a quote and this article covers them and why. These questions make sure you are not getting a packaged “off-the-shelf” system that may or may not work how you expect it to for your application.

That wraps it up for 2014 and the SEPCO Blog. We here at SEPCO wish you a wonderful and fruitful 2015. See you on the flip side.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, SEPCO News & Information, Solar Power, LED Lighting

SEPCO Featured in Electrical Products & Solutions

Posted by SEPCO

11/25/14 9:30 AM

Electrical Products & Solutions recently featured SEPCO in their November issue of their Purchase Guide for Electrical Contractors. This feature went over some of our most prominent projects and explained information in regards to the benefits and savings that is provided by commercial solar lighting systems.

Want to read the article? Check it out on EPSMag’s November Digital Issue.


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Topics: SEPCO News & Information

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

Solar Parking Lot Retrofit for St Augustine Beach Pier Park

Posted by SEPCO

7/15/14 9:30 AM


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.


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.


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.


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

Milestone at SEPCO – 20 Years Strong

Posted by SEPCO

2/20/14 10:02 AM


Solar Electric Power Company (SEPCO) is proud to announce that they are celebrating their 20th anniversary. SEPCO was founded in February 1994 by Steve Robbins, a pioneer in the industry and developer of the first commercial solar street light. SEPCO has been able to take the developing technology and educate and promote the products fueling the solar lighting industry growth.

Steven Robbins came from a background in electrical engineering and is a veteran of the US Air Force. Partnering with his wife, CFO Susan Robbins, as well as two generations of family, SEPCO is a true family operated business. SEPCO also employs an in-house staff of sales, support, production, engineering, and all other departments with all employees working in tune with each other helps to provide award winning customer service.

SEPCO’s growth is complimented by their integrated sales approach with North America’s largest lighting fixture manufacturer, Hubbell Lighting. This approach has been successful by integrating SEPCO’s commercial solar power solutions and top of the line LED lighting fixtures to promote projects through channel sales with manufacturers’ representatives and distribution. SEPCO has also cataloged their products with Grainger, a fortune 500 industrial supply company. SEPCO’s work with the government through their long term GSA contract, held since 2002, provides government direct sales.

The first couple of years as a manufacturer SEPCO was also an educator teaching the customers how they can deliver power and operate lighting and camera systems when no grid power was available at the sites.  Many other manufacturers in the industry have come on board to sell similar products and have helped to bring the industry to a sustainable market where it is today. The most recent shift in the maturing industry is indicative of the projects that were being funded by government backed funds switched to a sustainable market driven by municipal, commercial and privately funded projects. Consumers can feel confident in products such as SEPCO’s who have had their line of commercial solar lighting and off grid solar power systems NRTL listed for the US and Canada.

SEPCO and The Robbins Family are excited for the future of the industry and look forward to providing products which support sustainable clean energy for their customer’s needs.
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Topics: SEPCO News & Information

10 years in the Solar Lighting Industry

Posted by SEPCO Staff Authors

3/26/13 9:30 AM

StephanieHere it is Tuesday morning and it is my week to write a blog post.  I think to myself, is this really important, is this the best and most efficient thing I could be doing with my time?  And of course coming from the GenX I Google the benefits of blogging and I come to the conclusion that it is definitely worth it.  Therefore, now I know it is important-- so important that I cannot find the courage to throw something together and move on with my daily tasks.  Surely, someone who has been in the solar lighting industry for 10 years has something to share.  Yesterday I received a call from a lighting designer who will speak on behalf of solar lighting at Lightfair, I find I can be long winded and passionate on the phone when discussing our solar lighting products and how great LED’s have become as well as all the reasons lighting designers should know when to use and feel comfortable specifying solar LED street lighting and beautiful solar decorative lights for their next lighting project. 

I had my 10 year anniversary at Solar Electric Power Company last week.  Then this week I conducted an interview with a young lady starting off her career and in her mid-20’s talking about her quarter life crisis.  I laughed and it brought me back in time, when I started out my career in the solar lighting industry.  I dreaded being stuck in an office setting; I had no clue what my career had in store for me.  I was ready to make the big leap from college studies to the big long time career.  I had worried that I might not be able to hold a steady career, or that I might let my family down.  Not only is this my career, but it is also my family.  I work for my parents in a family business.  I remember coming home from school and listening to my parents discuss projects over the dinner table.  I also remember going on family vacations to spots where projects were so they could get really good photographs of the installations, etc. 

I grew up thinking that I was going to stay out of the family business.  I thought I was going to go and venture out on my own and be independent and have my own career.  Then my quarter life crisis hit me shortly after I spent 7 years in college and completed my graduate studies.  It hit me like a ton of bricks; I wanted to be a part of the Family Business.  “WHAT?” Yes, you heard me; the one thing I thought that I wanted to stay out of is the one thing that drew me in.  Of course we all have to make money, so why not do it while enjoying the company of our family.  What I envisioned as a young child as mixing business and family as a negative, shortly became what I would embrace and love.  I get to work every day with the ones that I love.  Furthermore, family businesses play an influential role in society because of their commitment to community, their sense of responsibility to give back to those who aided them in their success, and because of a motivation driven by the ideals of family, partnership and responsibility rather than solely that of making a profit at any cost.

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Topics: Green Ideas, SEPCO News & Information

Decorative Solar Street Lights for Ginn Sur Mer

Posted by SEPCO

1/15/13 9:30 AM

Solar Post Top LightWith the rise in energy costs, street lighting can be difficult for many areas. Ginn sur Mer has taken steps to minimize energy costs and reduce energy consumption by installing decorative solar powered street light systems. Since the units are self-contained, installation is cheaper and easier than with standard electrical lights.

Since Ginn sur Mer is located in Grand Bahamas, a hurricane riddled area; lighting is one of the main concerns when power goes down for safety and security. Since the solar street lights provide battery storage for up to five days of light, lack of power is not an issue for these lights. If a hurricane does shut down the power, Decorative Post Top Solar Lightthe solar panels will still charge the battery and provide lighting, no matter how long the island is without power.

The street lights installed at Ginn sur Mer are a decorative acorn style light. These lights are powered from dusk to dawn year around. The solar panels are all on the bottom of the pole with the acorn light fixture on top. This provides a more decorative and architectural installation and lowers the wind resistance drastically on the pole. Once completed, the area will be completely lit by these solar powered acorn street lights and will add safety and lower costs of residences and visitors.

Blog Street Lighting CTA

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Topics: Solar Lighting, SEPCO News & Information, Street Lighting

Portable Solar Street Lights for Industrial Mining Facility

Posted by SEPCO

11/13/12 9:37 AM

Solar Street Lighting SystemWhen a large industrial mining company had a need to provide lighting for key areas within their massive, constantly changing land mine facility, they turned to SEPCO to help design fully portable, off-grid solar power lighting solution. The street light systems needed to be moved as the terrain changed as well as provide efficient lighting for safety and security of workers of the mine. Since this cannot be done with traditional electric lights, solar street lighting systems were the best option for the mining company.

After gathering all pertinent information pertaining to the mining company’s lighting needs and requirements, SEPCO designed a system that combines our ultra-reliable off-grid, pole mounted solar power system with a very durable, high performance Genesis LED light fixture. These systems operate for a few hours after dusk during peak mine operation hours before automatically switching over to energy and cost efficient motion-activated lighting for the rest of the night. This lowered the overall cost of the project by having the lights only run when needed.

As indicated in the project photos, the mining company embedded our pole mounted solar street lighting systems inside a giant tire filled with concrete as the means to create a free-standing, completely portable industrial lighting system that can be quickly/easily moved with a forklift anywhere throughout the entire mining facility.  A very creative application of off-grid solar lighting to be sure! 

Blog Street Lighting CTA

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Topics: SEPCO News & Information, LED Lighting, Street Lighting

Announcement: SEPCO is Moving to a New Facility

Posted by SEPCO

10/16/12 9:30 AM

SEPCO New BuildingWe will be moving to our new state-of-the-art facility to streamline manufacturing and expanding to meet the worldwide demand for high-quality, economical clean energy outdoor lighting solutions. The new building provides more space with the larger warehouse facility and additional offices for staff. It also is located in the heart of Stuart.

“We are very excited to expand to a new, larger facility. We are proud to maintain our manufacturing operations in Stuart,” Steve Robbins, president of SEPCO, says. “The move will improve our production, support our continuing growth and support innovation of new products.”

SEPCO’s new facility is in the Martin Square Corporate Park. The move is almost complete with the factory moved and set up and the offices moving tomorrow and Thursday. We will be down from around 3pm on Wednesday and return to full function at 1pm on Thursday.

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Topics: SEPCO News & Information

Remarkable Solar Lighting Solution for Jack McLean Park

Posted by SEPCO

9/18/12 9:30 AM

SolarParkingLotLightIn the summer of 2007, the City of Tallahassee, FL contacted SEPCO regarding a lighting project for Jack McLean Park.  According to the city’s website: “The 52-acre Jack L. McLean, Jr. Park provides active and passive recreation facilities, including five covered picnic shelters with grills, two comfort stations, a playground, four basketball courts, two tennis courts, a 24-station fitness trail, two bike trails, and two sand volleyball courts. The park is named for former City Commissioner Jack L. McLean, Jr., who was the driving force behind the acquisition and development of the former Southside Park.”  The park also includes a 20,386 square foot recreation center and aquatics complex.

The city was looking for a solution to light the parking lot for the park facilities.  No electrical power was readily available, so solar lighting was the obvious choice.  A SEPCO agent met with several city officials at the park to assess the site.  The lights would need to be placed on the east and west perimeters of the parking lot.  This seemed to cause one major challenge: both the east and west perimeters of the parking lot were lined with a tall canopy of pine forest.  This would cause serious shading issues for the solar panels.

SEPCO was tasked with solving the shading issue.  Normally the solar panels are faced directly south at an angle of 45° to the ground.  This allows the panels to be exposed to the most amount of sunlight in the winter-time; when the days are shortest, and the sun travels across the sky on a more southern plane.  If this mounting method was used for the parking lot, the solar on the east side of the parking lot would be shaded for most of the first half of the day.  The solar on the west side would be shaded for most of the second half of the day.

Solar Powered Parking Lot LightsSEPCO decided the best course of action would be to face the solar panels on the east side of the lot west, and the west side of the lot east.  This would allow the solar panels to take advantage of the maximum amount of sunlight when they are out of the shade.  Since the panels would still not be exposed to as much sunlight as they normally would, the solar power assemblies were also oversized for the load.  Time clocks were also included with the systems.  This would allow the lights to be set to run only during peak hours to conserve energy.  The clocks also would allow the runtime to be reduced in case the shading turned out to have more of an affect than anticipated.

In the end, the city used the SEPCO equipment to set specifications for a bid.  The city had the lights installed, and now has a solar lighting compliment to its beautiful family-friendly park.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, SEPCO News & Information

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