This is the final installment in our Simple Solar Lighting and Power Facts series. Finally we want to cover the cost difference between solar lighting and power systems compared to traditional grid powered lighting and power systems.
Solar lighting systems are designed to be installed in cases where the grid power is cost prohibitive to bring in, where underground wiring has deteriorated or been broken, or be designed into a new project early on. Solar lighting systems are not typically used for a green alternative when replacing old lighting technology as a cost feasible solution.
Solar lighting systems that are commercially manufactured and designed properly can be expensive as you are paying for the power up front, not over time like traditional grid powered lights. Instead of just paying for a light fixture, and then the energy to operate that fixture over time, you are paying for the solar to generate the energy and the battery assembly to store the energy produced during the day for use at night.
The solar power assembly needs to be large enough for your installation to power the required light for the designated time frame required. Grid tied lights also don’t take into consideration the wattage that is installed or the energy costs over time. Read more about solar sizing requirements.
This is why off grid solar lighting systems are great for installations where the grid power is cost prohibitive or in cases where the underground grid lines have gone bad. There is no trenching involved with installing an off grid solar system; the solar provides the power and all wiring is located at the light source, or nearby with applications such as signs.
For example, if you have a large parking lot where the underground wiring has gone bad, either due to time or someone cutting the line, trenching the parking lot, repairing the lines, and repairing the pavement can be a costly project. Off grid solar lights may be the best option since the poles are just placed where they are needed. This will lower the project cost to repair all the wiring and decrease the installation time.
Off grid solar power systems work basically the same way. If the power is difficult to bring in, or the wiring has become damaged, solar is a great alternative to traditional grid power.
If off grid solar lighting or power is being requested, a cost analysis of the systems can be performed to show the ROI and / or savings of the solar vs the grid powered system. This can be requested from the manufacturer. In order to do this analysis, detailed information about the grid power costs for the area as well as project costs will need to be provided.