With the summer months upon us and beautiful weather ahead, it’s the perfect time to evaluate opportunities for a greener future. Many countries around the world have taken a step forward in planning to eliminate dependence on fossil fuels and rely on renewable energy sources. These ambitious goals include ramping renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and biomass. In order to reach these goals, initiatives must be taken from businesses on any scale to play a part in the bigger picture.
As a business owner, you are in the perfect situation to make a positive impact on the environment by adopting green initiatives across your day-to-day operations. The thing is, due to high costs, ever-changing legislation, and more complex technology, business owner’s in the US have been lagging behind when it comes to the adoption of solar and other renewable energy sources.
This quick guide will walk you through some of the basics of solar lighting, including, a highlight of the benefits of solar lighting, different use cases of solar lighting, and how to go about installing solar lighting for your business.
Traditional Outdoor Lighting vs. Solar LED Lighting
In order to highlight the benefits of outdoor solar LEDs, we have to understand key points of current industry standard HPS and non-solar LED lighting.
High-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps are the well-known predecessor to low-pressure sodium (LPS) lamps. In the late 1900s, conversions to HPS lamps became standard as they carried the same values of low power consumption and low energy demand with more lumen output. However, the distinctive yellow lighting of HPS lamps has grown unfavorable in comparison to the wide color temperature range of LED bulbs.
Growing more common since the 2000s is the brighter and more efficient LED bulbs. These lights are a large step towards green energy as they require less power, and less maintenance and provide significantly more lumens. LEDs also are favored for their color rendering index (CRI), which is capable of producing a “blue sky” tone, providing superior illumination to HPS lamps.
Although LED’s seem better than traditional lighting in almost every way, there are some disadvantages to be considered depending on the area you want these lights installed. Due to the potential brightness of LEDs, some areas need to consider light pollution when evaluating their light coverage. Light pollution refers to the disturbance of wildlife, and effects on human sleep and eyesight during night driving. As lighting becomes brighter and more efficient, different areas around the country have actually had to introduce stricter light pollution laws too. Make sure your business is well lit, but not over-lit when considering new lights.
Now let's take the already efficient LED bulbs and make another step forward toward the green energy agenda. Although LEDs lead the way in terms of energy consumption, the next step in improving outdoor lighting for businesses is transitioning to solar-powered fixtures. Areas to be considered include parking lots, streetlights, external lighting attached to the building, and any other outdoor lighting that is included on the property.
Even though LEDs lead the way when looking at monthly cost and energy efficiency, solar-powered fixtures eliminate the associated monthly electricity bills. Depending on the volume of upgraded fixtures, businesses can easily save over a thousand dollars yearly just on the property’s electricity bills.
Another benefit to solar fixtures compared to traditional lighting is backup power in case of an outage. With traditional lighting, a backup power source such as a generator is required to restore lighting during any form of electrical outage in the area. SEPCO's fixtures include backup power batteries that are used in case of bad weather, keeping the lights on for at least five nights.
Browse a Variety of Options for Your Property
Every business has unique outdoor lighting needs, which makes a one-size-fits-all solution difficult. SEPCO offers a wide variety of different fixtures to cover all bases when businesses are upgrading to green energy solutions.
Medium to large businesses generally has bigger parking lots to accommodate their busier customer traffic. Being that parking lots are usually where outdoor lighting is most concentrated, upgrading to solar fixtures here will provide the most impact. The type of solar system to use will be dependent on the makeup of your parking lot.
- For business owners on a tighter budget, we recommend our Solar ASL system. This Cobrahead / shoebox style fixture comes with up to a 25-year warranty and five years of free maintenance. This fixture is also most efficient when mounted above 20’.
- A system similar to SolarASL is our SolarRatio system. SolarRatio features a shoebox style fixture and is more versatile due to its lower mounting threshold of 15’ while still evenly lighting the surrounding area.
- For a more decorative approach, consider our SolarUrban system. This system features a decorative bell-style fixture while remaining efficient at evenly distributing light in a variety of applications. Similar to SolarRatio, this system is also efficient at lower mounting heights starting at 15’.
One of the first impressions customers have of a business is seeing its roadside sign and logo. Keeping signs illuminated during the darker hours is important to upholding that impression along with helping customers locate the business.
- Our best solution for illuminating signs is our SolarRLF system. With a lower mounting height starting at 10’, this system maintains a lower profile and is budget-friendly. Other applications SolarRFL excels in are illuminating storefront flagpoles, landscaping, and facades.
Business owners know that protecting their customers, employees, and assets is essential and that a reliable security system is a key to doing so. Proper lighting and security equipment play important roles in both preventing and recording incidents.
Built with multiple controls for various needs, our SolarSecurity system has it covered. This system is available in a variety of fixtures and is capable of powering additional security equipment such as cameras. Security equipment is not provided by SEPCO, but the design and autonomy of the custom-crafted system will accommodate your current system.
Lots of businesses, especially in the industrial sector, have multiple buildings or structures in one property that require lighting. The groundwork required for installing traditional lighting systems can add up if the desired buildings are distanced from each other. SEPCO’s off-grid systems solve this problem by requiring minimal to no groundwork and being self-sufficient.
- One of our solutions for additional building or structure lighting is SolarRWL. While this system can be pole mounted, the solar panel is typically mounted to a rooftop. There are several different applications that can benefit from SolarRWL such as roofed storage areas, pavilions, outdoor restrooms, etc.
Savings, ROI and Environmental Impact
Even though non-solar LED and solar LED lighting is the clear winner when compared to older lamps, why hasn’t everyone made the switch already? The answer is upfront costs of purchasing LED’s, especially on a larger scale for businesses. Understanding the savings and return on investment is important when evaluating if your business should upgrade.
A good first step to determining how fast your investment will be repaid is to look at the business’s annual electricity expenses, maintenance included. After that review, contact our knowledgeable sales team to evaluate what your business needs, and will provide you with a quote tailored to your business.
Be sure to check any local, state, or federal incentives that can apply to your solar upgrades. These incentives can help lower upfront costs and expedite your ROI. Another way to overcome the hurdle of upfront costs is by securing funds with a personal loan. Business loans can be tricky and often met with denial if the business doesn’t have enough collateral, established credit, or poor revenue performance. Once you have both the annual expenses and upfront cost figures, you can begin determining the ROI.
Once your business has settled on its new lighting upgrades, it should take pride in doing its part in making a greener tomorrow. Corporations like Walmart, Apple, and Target have made incredible strides toward running their properties entirely off renewable energy. In time, your business will reap the benefits of lower energy bills and your customers will take pride in doing business with your green company.