Last week I was out of the office at LightShow West in Los Angeles, CA. This show was put on by a couple representatives in the area that are active in the lighting industry. It was a great show where we got to meet with many local engineers and architects to see how our solution would benefit them. There were three questions that came up over and over that I thought I would address on here.
Question 1: How bright are the lights?
Well that all depends…how bright do you need them? Our lights range in wattages and lumen output. With solar, there is not an infinite amount of power, so the lights are typically designed to be as bright as required by the project. Parking lots and roadway projects typically range in the 30 to 100 Watt range and that is dependent on foot candle requirements. Signs are typically between 5 and 25 Watts per fixture. It is better to work with our engineers to design a lighting plan based on requirements than to arbitrarily throw out a wattage and think that is what you need. This also allows us to size the solar power assemblies according to the requirements of the light and the operation schedule required by the install location.
Question 2: How long can this small solar power these lights?
Well…this is a demo to show our systems and not something that would typically power a set of multiple lights. The demo consists of a 150 Watt solar power assembly which can operate a lower wattage light from dusk to dawn or a higher wattage light for a set period of time at night, but typically not all night. Our systems are sized according to a set of questions that need to be answered before the solar power system can be selected. The systems are each sized according to operation requirements, i.e. dusk to dawn, split time, adaptive lighting, etc. along with the required light and output of the project. System sizing also takes into consideration the project location’s worst case solar insolation and longest night of the year to determine the correct solar sizing so that throughout the year, there will be no issues with power.
Question 3: What’s the life of the battery?
Our batteries are sized to last five to seven years in the field. This is due to the minimum autonomy of five nights in the southern California area; however, the further north you go, the longer the autonomy is needed due to the depth of discharge changes in the winter. The batteries are fine in hot areas like Arizona since they are located in a vented aluminum battery box, and unlike Lithium batteries, don’t seem to mind the heat too much. Plus, the batteries operate just fine till -40°, so no worries about freezing. The sealed gel batteries are also non-spillable and air shippable, making them a great choice for off grid solar lighting applications. They have a long life proven by years of in the field installations whereas new technology has not been field tested. Our batteries are also backed by our warranty.
There were many other questions asked throughout the show, but these three kept coming up with almost every other visitor to our booth. When it comes to any type of system or technology, education is the best route to getting more people to understand what you do and how you do it. It builds trust and shows transparency with the potential client. Some of the questions may seem simple, but we try to explain the information in the best possible way. We look forward to seeing you all at our next show.