What powers a solar street light? The same thing that starts cars every day…. rechargeable batteries!

The new kids on the block are starting to take the world by storm, and are only going to grow in popularity and efficiency. No, they’re not a pop sensation of teens singing songs of growing up and high school sweethearts. The new kids are solar street lights that will bring energy production and dispersement directly at the site of the light itself. Solar street lights have come a long way since their piecemeal configurations of large solar panels and inefficient luminaires. Today, companies such as SolTek Renewables are working to supply customers across the globe with a new generation of area lighting that is on par and above the standards of conventional lighting methods. Their lights use CREE LED fixtures that are highly efficient, safe to use, generate minimal heat and produce illumination (in foot candles) that often exceeds traditional non-LED luminaires. With these positive aspects, the most cost-effective energy source to power LED luminaires is by employing sealed lead-acid gel rechargeable batteries, much like what is in most cars on the roads today.

Solar street light battery specifications and underground installation. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.
Solar street light battery specifications and underground installation diagram. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.

So, why use a lead-acid battery as opposed to a Lithium battery? First, the cost of lead-acid batteries is within the economic realm of most users. Their capacity is high for the size and initial investment, so they are the chemistry of choice for solar street lights. Being that the batteries are essentially car batteries (and comparatively priced), they are 95% recyclable and have a typical life-span of 5 to 7 years. Coupled with a smart controller that regulates the charge from the battery to the LED fixture at night, lead-acid batteries have a system autonomy of anywhere between 3 to 6 days (typically toward 6 days). This means that the solar panel will collect photons (light) from the sun in a span of 2 to 4 hours and charge the battery to capacity. At night, the light will illuminate with a steady discharge from the lead-acid battery as specified by the controller. If the following 3 to 6 days are occluded with thick cloud cover or stormy conditions, the battery will continue to operate as intended over the next 3 to 6 days until it needs the 2 to 4 hours of sunlight to get a full charge again.

SPG solar path light collection and storage unit with installation in Colorado. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.
SPG solar path light collection and storage unit with installation in Colorado. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.

What does this mean for regions where sunlight is more likely to be out more than once every 6 days (realistically, how often, if ever, does that happen)? It means that illumination autonomy can be achieved by users/owners of solar street lights. It means that you are now 100% energy efficient with regard to generation and use. It means you are using 100% renewable energy. It means local energy generation, thus eliminating the dirty energy of coal and oil sources. It means savings for your local economy as you have eliminated fees incurred by local utility companies (they can raise the rates all they want, you are not paying a penny to them with autonomous street lights). It means it can happen now (2 months installation from factory to site). It means that you save money from the get-go as you have eliminated trenching and expensive wiring to the utility grid.

Stay tuned for our next blog on the CREE LED luminaires that are used in the solar street lights from SolTek Renewables. Reliable, clean and effective lighting is here to stay.

Solar on!

Mario @ Your Solar Link

Lumina solar street light at night for community in Santee, CA. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.
Lumina solar street light at night for community in Santee, CA. Image courtesy of www.soltekrenewables.com.

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