Back to the solar street light series, today’s episode – the solar panel.

We have been posting the components of the solar street lights at www.soltekrenewables.com. So far we have covered the 12-Volt rechargeable batteries, galvanized steel poles and CREE LED fixtures. Next up are the first point of contact for energy collection and generation: the solar panel. Solar panels are the point where photons from the sun (light) are collected, converted to electricity and transmitted via wires to the rechargeable batteries for storage and distribution at night to the LED luminaires. Sizes of solar panels have been steadily decreasing since their early years of widespread use. While the panels have been decreasing in size, they have also been increasing in efficiency. Efficiency is the amount of energy that is converted to usable electricity. Typical efficiencies run between 11% to 15%, with some companies offering panels at 18% efficiency.

Size comparisons between Lumina solar street light, 6 foot person and the solar panel on top.
Size comparisons between Lumina solar street light, 6 foot person and the solar panel on top. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.

Factors that can affect efficiency are reflective coatings on the panel to increase light infiltration, orientation of the solar panel relative to the sun, obstructions (shade from trees, buildings, etc.) and ambient temperature, to name a few. For the purposes of solar street lights, the optimum fixed panel position is tilted toward the south (for those of us in the USA). An angle of at least 20 degrees optimizes efficiency; however for those at higher latitudes, this angle will increase depending on your particular geographical location. For those on the equator, the optimum angle would be zero (as the sun crosses perpendicular twice a year), etc.

Lumina series solar street lights with solar panel position.
Lumina series solar street lights with solar panel position. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.

Solar panels for SolTek Renewables‘ line of solar street lights are higher on the efficiency rating, are minimally affected by temperature (as they do not rest on a surface such as a roof or ground that radiates stored heat from below) and can be coated with nano-coating applications to further increase prolonged clean panel surfaces in dusty locations. As for the aesthetics of a solar panel on top of the pole, the high efficiency and relatively small size of each panel do not detract from the design of the pole and fixture. Furthermore, it is nice to see that the energy used to light up your lights is collected with that solar panel on the top. A small reminder that you are now self-sufficient, off-grid and using a 100% renewable energy light where you own the energy that you use. An honest solution that is better for the environment and even better for your wallet.

Turning sunlight into nighttime illumination with the Lumina solar street light.
Turning sunlight into nighttime illumination with the Lumina solar street light. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.

Solar on!

Mario @ Your Solar Link

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