Many business and residential homes have flags flying; however, if you want to fly the flag at night, proper flag etiquette states you should have it illuminated all night. Solar can be a great way to illuminate the flag, especially when it is installed in a remote location.
Solar allows for both a flagpole mounted system or a remote pole-mounted system nearby. Many types of systems are available today, ranging from around $30 to $300 for off-the-shelf systems. We here at SEPCO offer a larger, industrial flagpole lighting system custom-built to meet the project's needs. Instead of a small charge that will leave your flag in the dark, we ensure proper illumination year-round, with plenty of backup that will last days, even if there is little sun due to weather conditions.
Let's go over how these commercial systems are designed and what makes them stand out from the competition.
The first thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the size and height of the flag, the pole height, and the mounting position of the fixture in relation to the flag. If you are mounting the fixture on the pole, a reduced output could be used for illumination since the light will be closer to the flag. If the fixture is to be ground-mounted, a higher output and smaller beam should be used to ensure the light can reach the flag.
Next, geographical information should be taken into consideration. This information will determine the length of night that the light will need to be on and how much sun is available at that location. For example, one fixture will require a much different solar setup than a dual fixture setup, and the system sizing changes depending on if the installation is in Florida or Michigan.
The small solar lighting systems you can purchase off large online stores and in big box stores typically provide about 8-10 hours of light for your flag if the solar can fully charge the batteries during the day. However, if you have an overcast day or do not set it up just right, the light will not operate all night, leaving your flag in the dark. Make sure to read the complete specifications and installation on what you are purchasing if you want to ensure that your flag will stay illuminated all night long.
The smaller solar lighting systems will also require a battery replacement every year or two, depending on the depth of discharge allowed for the battery used. Make sure the replacement batteries are easy to purchase and replace will allow your system to be able to reused year after year. If the batteries are not able to be replaced, this will end up costing more as you will need to replace the entire system when the batteries no longer hold a charge.
A custom-designed system should have plenty of charge to last the whole night, up to 14.5+ hours in the winter, and would have a minimum of five nights backup. The solar is sized to ensure plenty of charge is available, even during times of inclement weather in the winter months. The custom sizing ensures that the lights operate fully and don't have operation issues. This customization also ensures that the batteries last upwards of five to seven years, unlike the smaller systems.
Let's look at two projects, each very different and yet very similar. Both systems utilize a single solar power assembly, battery backup, and single light fixture; however, one system was mounted on a pole due to the project location. The other required a separate pole-mounted system.
The Lockport Powerhouse required some solar lighting for its remote flag at the historic site. The solar flag lighting system provided had to be ground-mounted without disturbing the existing flagpole. SEPCO was able to provide a system that mounted to a separate short pole with the flood fixture mounted at the top of the same pole, 10' above grade to shine up at the flag.
This project had to utilize a high-powered LED fixture as the flag was 39' high up. The solar power assembly had to be located high up as well due to concerns of vandalism. Therefore, we found a way to have all equipment located at 10' to ensure that it would be difficult to disturb.
Parkway South high school needed a solar lighting solution for their existing flagpole; however, remote mounting the solar power assembly and light fixture wasn't an option. Instead, the fixture and solar had to be installed on the existing pole. To do this, SEPCO would need to make sure that the system wasn't too heavy or large, but large enough to power a fixture all night.
Since we were able to mount the fixture closer to the flag itself, we could use a lower wattage and larger spread on the fixture. This allowed the solar to stay smaller and mount to the existing pole. We provided a longer fixture arm to push the fixture out away from the pole so that it wouldn't get tangled in the ropes for when the flag was lowered and raised.
These are just two examples of how we could easily adapt and overcome the obstacles for two unique setups. This is where having a customizable solution is key to ensuring a successful and long-lasting project. Working with a solar lighting designer and providing all requirements allows the manufacturer to provide the best system that meets your needs.