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6 Solar Power Lighting System Design Questions

SEPCO 9/25/23 6:30 AM
6 Solar Power Lighting System Design Questions

We receive a tremendous amount of phone calls and emails expressing interest in our high performance off grid solar powered lighting systems. In order for our solar lighting specialists to provide a solar lighting system design and quote that will best meet the customer's needs, we need to gather additional information by posing a series of project-related questions. These answers provide the information needed for a comprehensive solar lighting system design and quote specifically designed to meet customers' lighting needs. 

This article will delve into these crucial questions and explore why they hold such significance. Additionally, we will discuss effective strategies for collaborating with your clients to obtain the necessary answers. Project questions include:


1. Where is the project located to determine sun hours?

When designing a solar lighting system, one of the crucial factors to consider is the location of the project. By knowing the project's zip code, we can determine the number of sun hours the area receives, which is vital for optimizing the performance of the solar panels. This data is essential for calculating the solar energy potential and determining the number of solar panels required to generate sufficient power for the lighting system. By tailoring the system to the sun hours of the project's location, we can maximize energy efficiency and minimize unnecessary costs.


Moreover, considering the location helps us account for any regional variations in weather patterns, such as cloud cover or shading from nearby structures. These factors can impact the amount of sunlight that reaches the solar panels, affecting their overall performance. By understanding where the system will be installed, we can make informed decisions about the solar lighting system's design to ensure optimal functionality and reliability.


2. What type/style of fixture does the customer want?

One popular choice is the Cobrahead fixture, known for its distinctive shape and high-performance lighting capabilities. The Cobrahead design provides excellent illumination and is often used for street lighting or parking lot lighting. Its sleek and functional design makes it a favorite among many customers.


Another option is the shoebox fixture, commonly used to illuminate large areas such as parking lots or sports fields. The shoebox design offers a wide light distribution, ensuring that the entire area is well-lit and safe. This fixture is often chosen for its versatility and durability.


Modern fixtures combine sleek design with energy-efficient lighting for those seeking a more contemporary look. These fixtures often incorporate cutting-edge technology and innovative features to provide both style and functionality.


On the other hand, decorative fixtures are an excellent choice if the customer wants to add a touch of elegance and charm to their outdoor space. These fixtures come in various styles, ranging from classic lantern designs to ornate and intricate patterns. They not only provide adequate lighting but also enhance the aesthetics of the surrounding area.


Ultimately, the fixture choice depends on the customer's preference and the specific project requirements. By understanding the customer's desired style and functionality, solar lighting specialists can recommend the most suitable fixture to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.


3. What are the light-level requirements?

Determining the light level requirements is crucial to designing a solar lighting system that meets the customer's needs. While specific light level requirements are ideal, a general description of the lighting objective can also be helpful in creating an effective lighting design.


Understanding the desired light levels allows solar lighting specialists to recommend the appropriate fixtures and determine the number of solar panels required to achieve the desired illumination. Whether it's for safety purposes, aesthetic enhancement, or functional lighting, having a clear understanding of the lighting objective ensures that the solar lighting system is designed to deliver the desired results.


For example, if the objective is to light up a parking lot for security reasons, higher light levels may be necessary to provide maximum visibility and deter potential threats. On the other hand, if the objective is to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for an outdoor gathering space, softer and more ambient lighting may be preferred.


Customers can collaborate with solar lighting specialists to create a customized lighting solution that perfectly aligns with their needs and preferences by providing information about the desired light levels or the lighting objective. This collaborative approach ensures that the solar lighting system is tailored to the project's specific requirements, resulting in optimal performance and customer satisfaction.


4. Do you have the dimensions of the area that you want to light?

To ensure a comprehensive solar lighting system design and quote, it is essential to have the area's dimensions that need to be illuminated. This information is crucial for accurately determining the number and placement of solar panels and the positioning of light fixtures and poles.


One of the most efficient ways to provide dimensions is through AutoCAD files, especially if a complete lighting design and layout are required. AutoCAD files allow for precise measurements and detailed planning, resulting in an optimized lighting system. However, if AutoCAD files are unavailable, alternative methods exist to obtain the necessary information.


In many cases, overhead images and dimensions of the project can be accessed through platforms like Google Earth. By providing the project's address, solar lighting specialists can pull up the relevant information and use it to create an accurate lighting design. These overhead images provide a bird's-eye view of the area, allowing for a visual understanding of the space and its lighting requirements.


If neither AutoCAD files nor overhead images are accessible, a rough hand-drawn sketch of the project can still be incredibly helpful. This sketch should include rough dimensions of the area to be illuminated, showcasing the boundaries and any relevant structures or obstacles. Even though it may not be as precise as AutoCAD files or overhead images, a hand-drawn sketch provides a visual reference that can guide the solar lighting specialists in their design process.


Detailed and accurate dimensions provided by customers contribute to the accuracy and efficiency of the solar lighting system design. This allows for precise planning, ensuring that the lighting system meets the project's requirements and delivers optimal performance. Providing as much information as possible, whether through advanced software or a simple sketch, expedites the process and helps achieve outstanding results for your solar lighting project.


5. Do the light fixtures need to operate at full intensity from dusk to dawn? 

When considering the operational requirements of the light fixtures in a solar lighting system, it is important to determine whether they need to operate at full intensity from dusk to dawn. This consideration can have a significant impact on both energy consumption and overall system cost.


Substantial savings can be achieved regarding nightly energy consumption by allowing the light fixtures to be turned off or dimmed during certain times of the night. This reduction in energy usage translates to a smaller and more cost-effective solar power system needed to sustain the lighting fixtures.


Dimming or turning off the light fixtures during periods of low activity can help minimize unnecessary energy usage. For example, if a parking lot is only used during certain hours of the night, having the lights at full intensity may not be necessary throughout the entire night. By implementing a dimming or scheduling system, the lighting can be adjusted to meet specific needs, saving energy and reducing costs.


Considering the operational requirements of the light fixtures in a solar lighting system is crucial for maximizing energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. By allowing the fixtures to be turned off or dimmed during periods of low activity, significant savings can be achieved regarding energy consumption and overall system cost. This flexible approach benefits the customer financially and contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lighting solution.


6. Do light poles need to be included in the quote?

When considering the inclusion of light poles in the quote for a solar lighting system, it is important to determine the style that best suits the project. Two common styles to consider are direct burial and anchor base.


Direct burial light poles are a popular choice for many outdoor lighting projects. These poles are designed to be installed directly into the ground, providing stability and durability. Direct burial poles are typically made from sturdy materials such as aluminum or steel, ensuring they can withstand various weather conditions. This pole style offers a clean and seamless appearance, blending seamlessly with the surrounding environment.


On the other hand, anchor base light poles offer a different approach. These poles are designed with a base that is anchored to a concrete foundation or a mounting plate. This style provides additional stability. Anchor base poles are often chosen for their versatility and ease of installation, making them a practical option for many lighting projects.


Determining whether light poles need to be included in the quote and selecting the appropriate style is crucial for the success of a solar lighting system. The poles should be designed to meet local AASHTO wind load ratings with the attached solar power assembly weight and EPA included in the calculation. Solar lighting specialists can provide accurate and comprehensive quotes that meet the customer's needs and exceed their expectations by considering factors such as the project's specific requirements, aesthetic preferences, and installation ease.

With answers to these questions in mind, our solar lighting specialist will have all the critical information needed to provide a comprehensive solar lighting system design/quote that will undoubtedly meet customer’s lighting needs.

The above questions work for most applications. Other questions can vary depending on the project. Those variations include:


Signs & Billboards

Additional considerations need to be considered regarding signs and billboards to ensure an effective and impactful lighting solution. One of the first questions that arises is the size of the sign and whether it is single or double-sided. This information is crucial for determining the appropriate lighting fixtures and their placement to maximize visibility and reach.


For single-sided signs, the lighting focus can be primarily directed toward illuminating the front surface, ensuring clear visibility for viewers approaching from one direction. On the other hand, double-sided signs require a lighting solution that evenly illuminates both sides of the sign.


Another important aspect to consider is whether the sign should be flood-illuminated or internally illuminated. Flood illumination involves positioning lighting fixtures strategically around the sign to provide a broad, even wash of light. This method is particularly effective for larger signs and billboards, ensuring uniform illumination and maximum visibility.


Internally illuminated signs, on the other hand, incorporate LED modules within the sign structure itself. This creates a vibrant and eye-catching effect, with the light radiating from within the sign. This method is often preferred for smaller signs or those that require a more dynamic and attention-grabbing appearance.


Solar lighting specialists can provide tailored recommendations for the most suitable fixtures and configurations by addressing these specific considerations for signs and billboards. This ensures that the solar sign lighting solution not only meets the functional requirements of the sign but also enhances its visibility and impact, effectively capturing the attention of viewers and conveying the intended message.



When it comes to illuminating flags with solar lighting, it's crucial to consider the flag pole's height and the flag's size. These factors significantly determine the most effective lighting solution for showcasing the flag in all its glory.


The height of the flag pole is an essential consideration because it affects the angle and direction of the lighting fixtures. Taller flag poles may require fixtures positioned at a higher angle to ensure proper illumination throughout the entire length of the flag. On the other hand, shorter flag poles may require fixtures positioned at a lower angle to achieve the desired lighting effect.


The size of the flag is equally important in determining the appropriate lighting solution. Larger flags may require multiple lighting fixtures strategically placed to ensure uniform illumination and maximum visibility. On the other hand, smaller flags may only require one or two fixtures positioned strategically to create a captivating lighting display.


Solar lighting specialists can provide tailored recommendations based on the flag pole's specific height and the flag's size. By considering these factors, they can design a lighting system that highlights the flag, enhances its visual impact, and ensures it stands out day and night.


By addressing these questions and considerations regarding flags, solar lighting specialists can deliver a comprehensive lighting solution that effectively illuminates flags, captures attention, and conveys a sense of patriotism and pride. Whether a small residential flag or a large one at a public institution, the right lighting solution can truly make a difference in showcasing the flag with honor and dignity.


Bus Stops & Shelters

Regarding solar lighting for transit systems, it is crucial to determine whether the lighting system will be pole-mounted or roof-mounted. This decision depends on various factors, including the design and construction of the transit stop.


For pole-mounted systems, lighting fixtures are installed on a pole adjacent to the bus stop or shelter. This configuration provides flexibility in terms of positioning the fixtures to ensure optimal illumination of the area. Pole-mounted systems can be particularly effective for bus stops and shelters with open spaces, allowing for greater visibility and enhanced safety.


On the other hand, roof-mounted systems involve installing the solar panel directly on the roof of the bus stop or shelter and the light fixture within. This configuration provides a more integrated lighting solution since the solar lighting system must be incorporated into the bus shelter structure. 


In addition to determining the mounting option, providing information about the shelter construction is important. This includes details about the materials used, the dimensions of the shelter, and any unique features or design elements. Understanding the shelter construction allows solar lighting specialists to customize the lighting system to perfectly complement the overall aesthetics and functionality of the bus stop or shelter.


Off-Grid Power

When considering the power requirements of an off-grid solar system, gathering accurate and detailed information about the equipment being used is essential. This includes providing part numbers and model numbers of the various components involved.


Solar specialists can accurately assess the system's power needs by knowing the specific equipment being used. This information allows them to determine the appropriate size and capacity of the solar panels, batteries, and other power-related components.


For example, if the system includes high-powered LED fixtures, it is crucial to ensure that the solar panels can generate enough electricity to power these components effectively. Additionally, the battery capacity must be sufficient to store and supply the necessary energy during periods of low sunlight or high demand, especially in high-security applications.


By providing the equipment's part numbers, solar specialists can conduct a thorough evaluation and design a system that meets the specific power requirements. By addressing the system's power requirements and providing detailed information about the equipment, customers can receive accurate and comprehensive quotes that align with their specific needs.

Including as many additional details as possible for a project is crucial in assisting engineers and solar specialists in accurately sizing the project and meeting its unique requirements. Providing comprehensive information right from the start can expedite the process, allowing the project to be quickly developed and brought to fruition.

Have a project, send us the details, and we will get working for you.