Solar outdoor lighting systems have increased in popularity over the last decade for many reasons. Solar outdoor lighting solutions offer grid security and provide light in areas where grid power is still not available, as well as offer green alternatives to obtain power from the sun. Solar outdoor lights are becoming the new normal for new construction projects and also are a cost savings to replace old electrical underground infrastructure on systems that are failing. Here are the top five reasons why solar outdoor lighting is becoming more popular in the last decade.
Failing grid power due to demand, as well as possibility of attacks and natural disasters, has caused concerns with grid security. Off grid lighting does not rely on the grid power to keep the lights on.
For example, the City of Dania Beach, after getting hit hard by Hurricane Frances, Jeanne, and Wilma, removed all the old grid powered lighting throughout a large neighborhood and installed off grid solar lighting systems. These lights are built to withstand hurricane force winds to ensure the neighborhood still has lighting, even when the power is out after a storm.
Federal mandates set forth by the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 states that all federal facilities should switch to using LEDs to reduce energy while also improving energy security by employing renewable power that operates independently from the electrical utility grid. This makes off grid solar lighting systems an ideal solution for these installations.
No Available Power
There are many times where the utility grid is cost prohibitive to acquire or doesn’t exist at all. This is a great place to install solar outdoor lighting systems. Grid extensions can be difficult to trench into certain areas, especially in rural and remote locations. Off grid solutions can provide this power extension to almost any remote location that has a nice sunny location. With correct sizing of the battery backup, the systems should operate under most normal conditions for many years with little to no maintenance.
More and more companies are looking for ways to use renewable energy to showcase a green initiative. By installing solar outdoor lighting systems on their signs, parking lots, entrance roadways, etc. they are able to show how they support the environment while also cutting costs. Companies that are comfortable with renewable energy have no issues with installing off grid solar systems in some locations that don’t readily have access to power, while other companies wanting to dip their toes into the renewable energy pool seem to find a small system, such as a solar sign lighting system, to be a great jumping off point to see how the technology works. Either way, every little bit helps the environment.
Costs of off grid solar lighting systems may put some into a sticker shock; however, these systems can save a lot of money, sometimes in the short term and others in the long term. Trenching in the grid power can be costly; however, just setting a pole with a solar lighting system on it can greatly reduce the installation costs.
Another great way to save is where construction has been recently redone, but the infrastructure is starting to fail. Solar lighting systems can replace failing grid tied lighting without disturbing the areas around it. This allows for replacements to be installed without having to redo the other sections.
There are also many Federal, State and Local incentives that can reduce the end costs of solar outdoor lighting systems. These incentives are put into place to show the support for the technology and to keep projects within budgets. Information about these incentives can be found at www.dsireusa.org and information is updated regularly. Keeping an eye on updates for your area and new incentives that come out can greatly reduce the end costs of the systems. Some incentives can also be applied to the installation costs as well.
The growth in lighting technology of LED’s has opened up the opportunities that are available to meet lighting levels not previously met with older technology. LED’s operate off of DC voltage and solar power and batteries produce energy at DC voltage. This means that solar power can operate LED fixtures with greater efficiency than the grid power is able to do as there is no loss in conversion from AC to DC power to operate the LED fixtures. With LED technology increasing in lumens per watt solar has an opportunity to be used in brighter lighting requirements or higher lighting level projects for roadway and parking lot projects with greater security.
If you have a project where these factors may be a influence in your project, then solar outdoor lighting systems may be a great option. Every year, the cost of the technology is reducing, making solar more of a mainstream alternative to competing with grid power lights and a more widely trusted and used source of energy. Talk to your lighting professional about your next project and see if solar is a feasible alternative.