Factors to Consider buying a Solar System
LIGHTING DISTRIBUTION ON SOLAR LIGHTS SYSTEMS
Most of our luminaires on our Solar Street Lights Systems incorporate the latest features. This includes state-of-the-art optics which are interchangeable. The type of optic that is fitted to the LEDs affects the pattern of light that is distributed to the surrounding area and ground. These are grouped into Types known as Type I, II, III, IV or V. Solar Illuminations can advise on which type of distribution pattern will best suit your needs
Solar Illuminations has invested in the very latest in software and system to produce photometric data for many of our Solar Street Lights Systems that we offer. We can import your site plan from a CAD file or PDF file and produce a set of colour renderings. If you do not have a site plan available we can view the location via Google Earth or Google Street View and produce a plan from there. Our software will produce a lighting scheme that calculate the quantity of lights necessary, spacing, distribution pattern, height of column, LED power. It can operate with your specified minimum or average Lux criteria, if applicable. We can even generate 3D renderings with virtual site walk-throughs thereby simulating realistic lighting conditions at night. So if you have a car park or a street that requires a Solar Street Lights Systems, let us propose the most suitable LED power, distribution type, column height and spacing.
MANUFACTURING A SYSTEM
Solar Illuminations has been designing, manufacturing, specifying and distributing Solar Street Lights Systems including street, car park and area lighting for almost 15 years. Our products have been sold to customers all over the world including Government Departments, the Military, Local Authorities, Councils, well-known blue chip companies, national home builders, wholesalers, contractors and private individuals. We usually require responses to a few simple questions before we can get to work designing a system to meet your needs. Many of our products are held in stock, in our own warehouse and available for immediate dispatch. Other systems and bespoke solutions can be ready in a matter of days. The components that make up a solar street, car park or area light comprise of the following: LED luminaire; luminaire support arm; solar panel; solar panel support hardware; column (if required); battery box cabinet; batteries; charge controller; wiring and connectors.
Solar Illuminations will advise on the solar panel Wattage necessary for your Solar Street Lights Systems. This is calculated by determining a few factors. These include the geographic location of the site, solar panel exposure, and whether there is any shading at any time during the day. We must also determine the power consumption of the lighting, the amount of hours that lighting is required and the discharge rate of the batteries that must be supplied. When conducting our calculations we must allow for the night time hours which vary throughout the year. In winter, the nights can be long (16 hours or more) where as in the summer they can be short (as little as 6 hours). All our lighting systems are fully automated, they detect dusk and dawn so they turn on and off automatically. In the past this used to be controlled by a photocell or timer. These days our systems use smart controllers which detect voltages from the solar panel so they know when it is dusk or dawn. As mentioned previously, due to the geographic location of the UK and reduced solar radiation levels (insolation) higher Wattage solar panels are commonly used to overcome these issues. Unfortunately this does make the total cost of any solar powered system a little more expensive than it would in Southern Spain. However the cost of solar panels has fallen hugely over the past 5 years, the additional cost of higher Wattage solar panel for use in the UK becomes somewhat negligible. The biggest obstacle to overcome is high power LED lighting such as those used for street lighting, car park lighting or general area lighting. Such systems require higher wattage solar panels with larger dimensions. Powerful LED luminaires of 35W and above prove to be a challenge in the UK especially when lighting is required from dusk to dawn, year round, which is as much as 16 hours in winter and coupled with poor weather conditions. A system requiring dusk to dawn lighting has to be designed for the longest night of the year. While it is not impossible, the problem is the safety and security of attaching several square meters of solar panel to the top of a column. For example, a 250W solar panel measures approximately 150cm x 100cm. There are limitations to the solar panel surface area and even with the strongest, heavy duty columns available allowances have to be made for windage. One way to keep the solar panel Wattage to a minimum is to have the lights turn off after a chosen amount of hours, known as a single timed mode. After all, if lighting is not required all night, perhaps until midnight only, then a system is designed to only allow a maximum 8 hour operation time (instead of 16 hours). This system would require a lower wattage solar panel of smaller dimensions and perhaps smaller capacity batteries too. The cost would be less. So it is very important that a system is only designed for dusk to dawn lighting if it is absolutely essential. Solar Illuminations offers other ways to save the solar energy produced. A single timed mode is one option, but a dual timed mode would be another. A system programmed to operate in dual timed mode allows the lighting to operate for a chosen amounts of hours after dusk. It then switches off and then back on again for a chosen amount of hours before dawn. By eliminating lighting for a period of the night (usually when it is not needed), enables the system to save some of its generated energy. Solar Illuminations offers further options such as dimming and PIR/motion detection. The dimming option allows the luminaire to dim by almost any chosen percentage, during any selected time window, during the night. Systems that operate using one or more PIR/motion detectors use considerably less energy because the lighting is only activated as and when needed. For systems that use an LED luminaire consuming 25W or less, one or more solar panels (up to 250W) can be installed at the top of most columns.
WATTS AND LUMENS
A common request is for lighting determined by Wattage. The misconception here is that Wattage determines the amount of light output. Higher Wattage means brighter lighting? Not always. Comparing the Wattage of an incandescent light bulb to the Wattage of an LED light bulb and you immediately become consumed. This is because LED lighting is about 90% more efficient than outdated incandescent lighting. Lighting Wattage is a measurement of energy consumed. It is not a measurement of light output. Light output is measured in Lumens. An incandescent light bulb that consumes 100 Watts may only provide 700 Lumens. Whereas an LED light bulb might consume only 10 Watts but produce 1,200 Lumens. Solar Illuminations has the expertise to advise on the typical light output that is suitable for most applications. If column mounted, the height of the column sometimes determines the Lumen output necessary. Most car parks, small street and general area lighting requires 10W-25W LED luminaires providing 1,000 to 3,000 Lumens.