When we look at the irradiance map of an area, country, or world in general, we usually separate those places where investing in solar energy is feasible from all the other places. But in cases where the investments are not as big, such is the case with solar street lighting, they could be implemented even in less than ideal environments regarding the levels of irradiation. This, of course, by following the few guidelines which will be explored in this article.
First off, less irradiance means less of the sunlight’s energy is reaching the ground, which in fact means the less energy could be produced by installed solar panels.
Let’s take a look at the steps we can take to ensure the continuous work of solar street lights installed in low irradiance areas:
Correct placement of the solar panels – this is extremely important because we want the most optimal placement we could achieve, meaning more time spent planning and preparing of the project.
Low consumption LED lights with dimming procedures and quality motion sensor detection. Using dimming schedules we can optimize the daily (and nightly) battery usage and ensure that the batteries have enough capacity to give consistent energy to the LED lights. Additionally, adding motion sensors that only activate the LED when motion is detected saves a lot of energy from the batteries.
Lithium batteries that have high depth of discharge.
If possible, installing an IoT device that could track the progress of the system (PV voltage, Battery Voltage, LED current etc.) could mean a lot as we could control the dimming further if necessary, or take other appropriate actions. Ideally, a smart controller could be programmed to automatically dim the lights according to the available capacity in the battery system.
In conclusion, solar street lights can be implemented almost anywhere, with careful preparations and choice of all equipment. High efficiency solar panels, batteries with enough capacity and autonomy for the system, LED light and LED driver with dimming capabilities, motion sensors with detection range up to 20m and high sensitivity, and potentially an IoT device to control and monitor the system.
Perhaps high power LED lighting can’t be powered by solar energy everywhere in the world, but in remote areas where power outages are common and the need for street lighting is immense these, solar powered, solutions can be a perfect choice.