The biggest challenge associated with lighting the scores of billboards located along remote stretches of highways is accessibility to the power grid. AC power is not readily available in remote areas and is very costly if you want to have it brought in.
SEPCO's grid-free solar power billboard lighting systems are a great alternative to standard grid lighting systems. The systems feature high-performance LED flood fixtures, commercially designed solar power assemblies, and plenty of backup, ensuring you are never in the dark.
Here are five quick tips for your next billboard solar lighting project to ensure you get the right system for your needs and find a cost-effective solution to your billboard lighting project.
1. Ensuring Your System is Installed Correctly
Off-grid solar power assemblies are quick and easy to install. The solar panel mounts to the heavy-duty round posts attached to the top of the billboard structure. The battery box gets mounted with the solar or nearby on another surface. The fixtures are then mounted along the catwalk using rigid conduit and standard electrical j-boxes.
The DC power provided by the solar stored inside the battery assemblies is used at night to operate the fixtures for the designated time frame. During the day, the batteries get charged by the sun's rays. The complete system is mounted high up so that there is little risk of theft or vandalism.
In some cases, a ground or low mount system is installed. This setup can easily have the solar nearby on a separate pole(s) and can still power the fixtures just as a billboard-mounted system. The customer and installer determine the final installation setup.
2. Keeping Your System Cost-Effective
We all like to think that our billboard is viewed all day and night. However, most of the traffic has slowed after midnight or 2 am in many areas. Only having the billboard illuminated when it makes the most sense for your business or brand is key to ensuring you aren't paying for something you don't need.
Solar power assemblies can operate from dusk to dawn, and if sized properly, will not leave you in the dark during the night. Alternatives include sunset for x number of hours, say six hours, or midnight for most areas, or split time operation where the lights come back on an hour or so before dawn for those early morning commuters.
Depending on the needs, each system is customized to provide the lighting and operation profile at each location.
3. Using the Right Fixtures
There are many different fixtures on the market today. Some provide a significant amount of light in a small area and leave the rest of the site dim. Others can give good even illumination across the entire face of the billboard.
Hubbell has always proven how their fixtures provide even illumination, especially in projects such as this. Having a lighting engineer do a lighting plan will show you how well the selected fixtures will illuminate your billboard and what adjustments are needed to make sure that your billboard is lit up properly.
4. Provide Plenty of Backup Power
Many areas have plenty of sunny days, but ensuring enough backup power to weather the storm is essential to keeping the lights on. SEPCO provides a minimum of five nights of backup for every one of their systems to ensure plenty of power for any storm.
Some people seem to think one or two nights backup is enough, but there can be a week or more with overcast or bad weather in many climates. Since there is no zero-sun day, and we know that there is always some charge happening even through the clouds, we stick to five nights (and maybe a few extra in northern climates). This setup also helps keep the batteries lasting longer and lowers maintenance costs.
5. Keep Maintenance Costs Low
And that brings us to our final point. Keeping maintenance costs lower by providing a system that requires maintenance only once every five to seven years helps reduce the overall operational costs of the system. Most components even come standard with a minimum of a five-year warranty or more. Therefore, the only thing you have to deal with is the increase in customers because you have a billboard illuminated beautifully by solar power.
Have a billboard or a sign you would like to light at night but have limited or very costly access to AC power? Give SEPCO a call; we can help!