Many things are certain in life. Along with death and taxes, night and day, there will always be the need for light. However, the need for light does not necessarily mean the need for electricity. Nearly everyone has heard of solar power, but they may not know that solar power is being harnessed to provide light where it is needed the most—in solar street lights.
What Do Solar Street Lamps Look Like?
Solar street lights are now being used in cities and along busy freeways to keep pedestrians and drivers safe. You may have seen solar street lamps in your town or along the expressway. They usually consist of three main parts: the lamp, pole and solar panels.
The solar panels attach to the top of the pole and are angled to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight. The sun’s energy is stored in a battery and released when needed. The lamp is automatically timed to turn on at sunset.
Benefits of Solar Power
Many privately owned companies and city, county and state owned companies are turning to solar street lights because of their environmental benefits, low maintainability, and zero power cost. There are no dangerous high-voltage power sources connected with solar power, and solar lighting is constantly renewable since it draws its power from the sun, making it the sustainable alternative light source to electric powered street lamps.
The Costs of Solar Power vs. Electric
The initial investment in the parts for a solar powered street light can cost about four times more than an AC powered light; however, other costs make the solar powered light the smart investment. For example, the installation costs to hook an AC street lamp up to the power grid amount to more than 5.5 times the cost to install a solar powered street light.
Of course, the electrical power costs for an AC street light are many times that of a solar powered light. Usually, solar powered street lights use zero electricity, but can be set up to use electricity as a backup. An AC street light typically uses about $250 of electricity per year.
Over a 25-year period, an electric street light consumes about $6,000 worth of electricity. If you multiply that for the number of street lights needed to illuminate a crucial freeway area, you are looking at an astronomical cost. A solar street light in comparison would entail zero electrical power costs, no matter how many lights are needed to light the way.
The only area besides parts where solar street lights cost more is the total maintenance cost over 25 years. Since solar lamps use more advanced technology than AC lights, the cost for replacement parts is three times higher than that of AC lights.
The Solar Rebate
Another great thing about solar street lights is that the U.S. government offers a 30 percent federal tax credit off the purchase price and installation cost of solar street lamps. Some states and local municipalities offer further credits and incentives toward the use of solar street lamps. This makes the cost of solar lighting even more competitive.
Solar Power in Today’s World
Real world applications for the use of solar street lamps can lead to a better understanding of how solar solutions can help where AC applications fail. For example, in Kabul, Afghanistan, U.S. engineers installed solar-powered street lamps in the city. AC-powered street lights were not an option due to the fact that Kabul’s electrical grid was old and destroyed by years of bombing.
A federal mandate that all U.S. federal buildings employ renewable power has meant that many federal facilities are using, or are in the process of using, solar-powered street lamps. One U.S. Marine Corps base retrofit existing street lamps to solar lamps by using existing lamp poles and attaching LED solar-powered fixtures. Rather than using a separate solar panel for each lamp, stand-alone ground-mounted solar panels were employed with the power to gather enough of the sun’s energy to power up to four street lights each.
It’s easy to see that in many cases, solar power may be the best or only sustainable solution for lighting an area. When the costs associated with solar powered street lights are closely examined, the long-term costs show that thousands of dollars can be saved by utilizing solar power. Not only is solar power the most cost-effective solution, but its beneficial effects on the environment are immediate as the CO2 released into the environment using this method is very low.
Whenever you have a lighting project to consider, be sure to research the benefits of solar lighting. It will not only help the environment, but it will help your company by showing the public that you are an earth friendly provider.
Solar myWorld supplies and installs Solar Power and Solar Hot Water Systems right across Perth!. Inverters, LED Lighting and Security solutions are also available. Please visit at www.solarmyworld.com.au