COMPARING TRADITIONAL STREET LIGHTS VS SOLAR POLES
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Solar powered LED Street lights/poles are becoming more popular option to light up public areas due to rising energy cost, lower solar panel and battery prices and introduction of new renewable energy technologies that makes solar street light reliable and effective system. To understand all the benefits of solar powered LED street lights, in this blog we will make a comparison between traditional street lights and solar powered LED street lights/poles.
The main concern of most Project and Facility managers is finding new ways to reduce electricity and maintenance costs to the minimum. Solar powered LED street lights could be a great option to fulfill this task. Not just as a lighting option but also as the clean energy production tool.
How do Solar and Traditional Street Lights work?
Solar powered street lights/poles provide lighting without the need of electrical power from the grid. They are not connected to the electrical grid infrastructure and are completely energy independent. Photo-voltaic modules or solar panels harvest the sunlight during the day and convert it into energy, which is then stored in a battery system. The solar charge controller is the brain behind solar lighting system that controls the battery storage capacity, solar charging voltage and ensures longer life cycle of the entire solar lighting system. During the night, the stored energy is being used to power LED lighting.
Traditional (metal halide or high-pressure sodium) street lights use power from standard electrical grid, which generates energy from fossil fuel (non-renewable) sources.
Renewable Energy and Environmental Showcase
Solar powered LED street lights/poles are constructed with very low environmental impact since they use renewable energy sources that are safe and good for the environment. The solar lighting system produce energy from the sun every day and does not create harmful CO2 emissions.
Solar powered LED street lights/poles use latest LED technology which delivers brighter light with higher lummens for less energy used. LED lights also have longer lifespan with more than 80,000 working hours, whereas traditional street lights range from 10,000-15,000 working hours with much higher failure rate. Metal halide or high pressure sodium lamps provide much lower CRI (color rendering index) while LED lights can be colored to match just about any CRI with better visibility and multiple distribution patterns available.
Cost Comparison between Traditional and Solar Street Lights
If we consider only the purchase price, the initial investment into off-grid solar LED street lights is usually two times higher compared to traditional street lights. However over 8-year period, traditional street lights installation, maintenance and electricity cost per unit ranges from 7,000-10,000 USD while solar powered street powered LED light/poles cost is estimated at 3,500-5,000 USD over the same period of time.
In case of new installations in remote locations, traditional street lights require wiring and underground trenching to connect to grid lines creating enormous additional costs, whereas solar powered LED street lights are much easier to install. You just need to build concrete foundation and to install solar pole. Overall for one solar pole duration of installation is less than one hour.
To give you an example about the installation and labor cost of traditional street light, one feet of cabling and trenching costs range from 25USD to 50 USD. Depending on the location of the transformer, you would need at least 30 feet of cabling and trenching for your project. These operations create additional cost but also it is very time consuming which can postpone your project and create other problems.
Maintenance cost is one of the ongoing problem that facility and city managers face when dealing with street lights. The sodium bulbs have a life span of 5 years while LED light life span is more than 10 years. In addition, with the introduction of new “Smart” technologies that allow remote management and control from one central location, maintenance cost of LED street lights are almost 70% less comparing traditional sodium or metal halide lights.
Solar powered LED street light/poles need battery replacement every 5-7 years depending on the battery type (VRLA or LiFePO4) and of course of the battery producer. We at EnGoPlanet for example are using only high-quality batteries made in USA and Europe. It is critical to choose high quality battery in the beginning of your solar lighting project to insure stability of the system.
Introduction of Smart Technology for Solar Powered Street Lights
The cost of solar power has reduced significantly and is projected to fall even more.
Smart hardware and software communication technology can improve and expand solar powered LED street light functionalities into data driven information services with high energy efficiency for LED light and increased return on investment for investors. Integrating motion sensors, dimming features and wireless networks to send valuable data back to the utility, company or infrastructure provider with information on their energy generation and light performance is made possible by using cloud-based software for remote management of each street light unit in real-time. In addition, this software can send fault notifications which can lower maintenance cost by almost 60% in labor cost, since visits to the light that need repair will be planned and not like today where workers must go on the scheduled weekly control visits, which cost both time and money.
These new developments significantly reduce maintenance costs by improving battery life and performance, LED light life and reliability as key components of solar powered LED street light/pole. Remote management of solar powered LED street lights opens up lots of opportunities for massive solar deployment.
In this case of Solar powered LED street lights/poles, the payoff continues to add up when you consider these units as a tool to increase energy resilience of your city and facility,because even in the situations of natural disasters that might cause blackouts and power outages, solar powered lights will work even in those situations.
We at EnGoPlanet are constantly working on improving our existing Solar powered LED street light solutions, but also working hard on developing new options that will lower the overall cost with improved performance.
If you want to install efficient Solar Powered LED street lights/poles, please contact us for more information. www.engoplanet.com
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