Night travel has become much safer and convenient thanks to the presence of the almighty street light – after all, cases of accidents and being lost on the way home can be avoided thanks to their guiding light. Philosophy aside, modern improvements to technology appear to be affecting even the systems helping street lights work. Today, the existence of continuously-improving methods to save and use energy have been making manufacturers reconsider their options when looking at street lights as well. Just what are the benefits of solar LED street lights vs. electrical street lights? And, knowing these, should you make the switch?
Quick Rundown: Solar LED Street Lights?
According to Greenpeace, street lamps, conventional or no, are all considered “raised outdoor light sources,” given they provide light to a certain area from a given height. Solar LED street lights, however, rely on photovoltaic (PV) panels, which are placed either on the structure that emits light or on the pole itself.
- These PV panels use energy from a rechargeable battery at night. These street lights use either a LED or a fluorescent lamp.
- Interestingly, given its nature as solar-powered, the PV panels of course “recharge” by taking in heat and light from the sun.
- Even without the presence of enough solar energy, an adequately-charged PV panel can help the street light emit sufficient light for a few more nights without needing the sun.
Given these facts, solar LED street lights may already raise a few eyebrows because of its potential to be an efficient source of energy. However, what else are its benefits?
- Most are independent of the utility grid, meaning there’s less costs in terms of operations. A solar LED street light may either be grid-tied or off-grid. If it’s the latter, the solar LED street light in question needs no power from the electric grid and instead uses its own power to generate light, courtesy of its PV panels. Grid-tied solar street lights take in solar power and feed it to the grid during the day and then use that same power during the night. Most solar LED street light systems take into account backup power (for off-grid light), wattage of the fixture, spacing, required lighting, and available sunlight, before ever being put in place.
- They are extremely eco-friendly, all thanks to their solar panels. Interestingly, the aforementioned “factors” haven’t always been taken into account by traditional street lights, meaning there’s a possibility that power consumption, light levels, and spacing aren’t being used to their optimum capacity. Thanks to the arrival of solar LED street lights, even electrical street lights are starting to be placed with these considerations in mind, but the solar lighting industry still has a few aces up its sleeves.
- They are made to be in less need of maintenance and still be efficient. Solar-based street lights also use better and more updated LED fixtures, which don’t require as much maintenance and still be able to use power much more efficiently. Improvements in solar power also make it much easier for lower wattages to enter the lighting game, meaning older fixtures that are clunkier may be on their way out.
- They’re portable, making them easy to carry to places that are in dire need of efficient lighting. Given that some solar street lights are built to be independent from the power grid, they don’t require immediate connection to the grid to operate. This makes them capable of providing light to areas that are otherwise off-grid, and can be beneficial to families and industries that may need them. For instance, in the same Greenpeace report, solar street lighting was being used not just to provide consistent and reliable illumination in New Delhi in India, but also to illuminate so-called “dark spots” that are prone to crime.
Conclusion: Go Solar For Efficiency, Independence
Perhaps when it comes to comparing solar LED street lights versus conventional electrical street lights, it’s important to remember that it may all come down to what form of energy usage you might be looking for. For the everyday user, the term “energy usage” might not be a big deal, but in terms of overall efficiency and economic value, solar LED street lights are slowly proving they may trump conventional street lights in terms of these qualities. Despite being relatively new to the public market, solar LED street lights may very well be on their way to provide a more eco-friendly way of providing light to dark streets.
Jacques Lee has a knack for anything electronic, and his inclination towards the sciences and his passion towards writing made him somewhat of a certified “techie” when it comes to blogging about anything technology. As a contributor for sites like SOMPOR, Jacques makes sure his pieces are always informative and entertaining, especially when he knows certain topics need to be technical. He spends his free time playing video games and reading up on the latest trends in science.