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.
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.
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.
Mario @ Your Solar Link
You may have seen the new light fixtures that are going up around town where the light is a very bright white light and it is all coming from a relatively small and low-profile fixture. Chances are that the fixture is one that uses LEDs as a light source. The advantage of LEDs are numerous:
1. LEDs produce very little heat compared to traditional lighting sources (incandescent, halogen, sodium and mercury vapor).
2. LEDs are a little more costly at first, but they quickly recuperate their costs with minimal energy usage over the long term.
3. LEDs are safer for the environment than induction lighting (that have about the same life-span) which require hazardous materials clean-up protocol due to the use of mercury in induction lamps.
4. LEDs come in a variety of color ranges (measured in Kelvin).
5. LEDs can be incorporated into a variety of housing styles and configurations.
As fixtures incorporate LEDs, their low-demand of energy allows them to be used in solar lighting applications. As energy demand is low, off-grid system autonomy increases with the use of highly-efficient rechargeable 12 Volt lead-acid batteries (very much the same as what is in your car) and smart controllers to regulate the amount of energy fixtures use each night. Typical autonomy runs for about 5 nights. That means that when the solar panels collect sunlight (about 2 to 4 hours) on day 1, then the LED fixture will continue to illuminate at night for the next 5 nights assuming that days 2 through 5 are completely cloud-covered or occluded.
Pathways and home use applications are also options for off-grid solar lighting. Large driveways or park pathways benefit with the use of the Lita, Lumina and Brighta series lights. As each light is a stand-alone and fully-contained unit, no wiring to trenching is required. So getting light to hard-to-reach places or where you may not have considered illuminating (think, the end of a boating dock or on a rocky surface) is achievable with the sustainable and 100% renewable energy lights from SolTek Renewables.
And let’s not forget lighting for smaller or design-specific applications such as signage lighting, interior lighting (within 40 feet of the solar panel) and event lighting. The SPG series allows for the solar panel, rechargeable battery (with integrated box) and smart controller (called an SPG) to be placed in areas where sun shines and a light fixture or fixtures can be placed away from the SPG unit. Spot, flood and bar lighting with a range of Wattages are available for each location. All fixtures again utilize LEDs to maximize the system autonomy while provided industry-standard white light.
Solar lighting from SolTek Renewables is here to stay and will bring the power of free energy to users and owners of their autonomous lights. No operating costs mean that money is immediately being saved and the environment is spared the damaging effects of dirty energy sources. Each light is a stand-alone unit that uses 100% renewable energy, guaranteed. Stay tuned for our next component (the solar panel) of the lights offered by SolTek Renewables.
Mario @ Your Solar Link
When you think of solar lights, you may have visions of those lights found around homes and gardens that put out enough light to show you where they are and illuminate just a little bit of area around them on the ground. Furthermore, they usually charge enough to last only one night. So, if it is cloudy or rainy the following day, they may not emit as much free light as after that first full-day’s charge. Well, there are solar lights out there that are powerful enough to compete (and surpass) with the scale up to traditional street lights. SolTek Renewables is a company that supplies these powerhouses to customers around the globe.
With each light containing all of its own components to be stand-alone units, they are a practical and economic solution that are finding their way onto city streets and parking lots, eventually saving users (taxpayers) millions in electricity usage fees by going off-grid entirely. These solar lights are so efficient that they maintain system autonomy for anywhere between 3-6 days (typically longer). This means that if they charge under one day’s requirement (between 2-4 hours) of sunlight, then they will continue to illuminate as specified for 6 nights under total cloud cover. In regions such as the Southwest, a week with no sun is a rare occurrence. Additionally, the solar panels are efficient enough to gather some charge even under cloud cover. So, there is no stopping these street lights from operating as a serious contender to grid-tied lights. Users are guaranteed that the lights use renewable energy (local utilities can’t guarantee that 100% of their electricity comes from renewable resources) and that each light has a zero-carbon footprint.
The wave of the future is keeping things local. And solar street lights do just that. Just another way to make things work for the better and progress into a positive future.
Mario @ Your Solar Link
When we hear about people installing solar panel systems on their rooftops and around their homes, we immediately think of what kind of rebates and incentives are they getting by going solar. Well, incentives and rebates are offered by government entities for people who will be connecting their homes to the utility grid system. Meaning that the solar panels on their roof is generating energy during the day that is ultimately feeding the local utility company with free energy, many times is the case that a home may produce more energy than what the home is using over a given year. When this occurs, the local utility company will issue a “refund” back to the home owner based on the utility company’s calculation of what the homeowner “deserves” as a reward for producing excess energy (that the utility company ultimately sold to another customer who doesn’t have a solar system on their roof/property). Free energy, right? Right!
So why not, as a homeowner that produces more than they use, just take their home off the grid and store their excess energy in rechargeable battery systems that are designed to do so? Well, they can and sometimes do. But utility companies are quick to divert this possibility with rhetoric that is unfounded and impractical. With the continuing and fast-developing storage capacities of rechargeable batteries, the reality of taking homes off the electricity grid (sewer and water is still on the municipality’s bill, so we are not completely “off-grid” just yet). Companies such as Ecoult (Australia) are developing very real options of what they call the “UltraBattery”; a battery that couples lead-acid batteries with ultra capacitors. The result is a long-lasting (up to 10 times longer than typical lead-acid) battery that is made of relatively benign materials that can be recycled at the end of their life. For instance, solar street lights from SolTek Renewables use lead-acid rechargeable batteries in their system with a life-span of 5 to 7 years before the battery needs replacement. With an UltraBattery, that replacement may not occur for up to 50 years! Now, take that battery capacity and put it into your home system. That means that if you were to bank your energy generated by your solar panels, you wouldn’t need to replace the batteries for potentially 50 years down the road! Now, who’s in control of your energy? That’s right…. it’s you!
Mario @ Your Solar Link
In continuing with our previous post, “American solar companies most likely have been installing solar panels facing the wrong way for years”, we are continuing this entry with the appropriate question: Are they? To recap our earlier post, solar installation companies in the US have been installing fixed solar array systems on rooftops and ground sites in a south-sloping direction. There are tracking systems that move with the path of the sun during the day, but for fixed systems, the orientation has typically been southward. What has been observed of late is that perhaps (in the northern hemisphere) the optimum location for fixed solar arrays should be on west-facing slopes and orientation. Why? Because as utility companies have indicated, the maximum usage occurs in the afternoons. This is both true and untrue.
True in that yes, during the summer months in historically hotter climates, the use of air conditioners and after-work applications (think of getting off work at 5, going home and turning the air on full-blast to cool off your home for the evening hours) spikes, thus causing a massive drain on the utility grid system. So, by orienting rooftop solar panels on west-facing roofs, homeowners are adding that extra energy to the grid; thus easing the demand from local utilities.
But here is the kicker, the big false. Okay, for certain regions and during a span of say, 4 months out of the year, the west-facing panels hold their validity. But, what about the rest of the year in the rest of the northern hemisphere? Think of it this way, when you (metaphorically speaking, of course) get off work at 5 in October (through April), the sun is close to setting (or already has set), it is cooler outside and in your home; thus almost eliminating the drain on the grid that occurs during the summer months. So, your panels are facing west in December and will only produce energy from say 1 p.m. to about 4:15 p.m. But you have missed out on the electricity generation from 7:15 to 1 p.m. And this is a pattern that will happen for most of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere. So, you, as a homeowner of a valuable electricity generator on your rooftop, have lost out in producing viable energy on an annual scale.
Now, to go even further, if (better yet, when) you decide to bank your energy in battery systems, then you will realize that you have arranged your solar panels in the worst possible direction as it was directed to you by the local utility companies. It is to your benefit to position your panels to the south. Technology will change and highly efficient rechargeable battery systems will come into our scope in the near future (they already are, it’s just a matter of finding the right one for your home). What does this mean? Eventually you will be able to go off grid for your electricity usage and gain your autonomy as a homeowner. Sure, businesses will probably continue to stay tied to the grid. Which is fine. What we are talking about here is what is known as Appropriate Technology. Use what is appropriate to your specific location and to what is within your means. In years past they said that the future is tomorrow. Well, now the future is today.
Mario @ Your Solar Link
Juicebar Pocket Solar Charger.
This stylish, sleek and reliable pocket size Universal Battery Charger (Juicebar Solar Charger) is proven to be your best friend in a situation when conventional electric supply is not available or if you are trying to use eco-friendly renewable power supplies.
Great as a solar phone charger for any type of Mobile Phones, IPhones, PSA, PDA, Mp3 Players, Satellite Navigation, and much more.
Get it HERE.
SOLAR PATH LIGHTS.
Stainless Steel Conical Solar Path Light (Set of 2).
Path solar lights are an excellent choice for lighting your garden paths, walkways, driveway perimeters and other regions in your landscape. They are often used in multiples to guide the way along a set of stairs or a dark walk.
Featured Stainless Steel Solar Light set uses 2 ultra-bright LEDs for maximum light output and minimum battery usage.
The lights are safe around kids and pets and water and corrosion resistant.
Read more HERE
STONE SOLAR SPOT LIGHTS.
Stone Solar Spot Lights (also known as Solar Rock Lights) completely camouflage with existing landscapes and look like any other rock in your garden.
SOLAR GARDEN FOUNTAINS.
How to start using ecologically friendly energy to power up your garden fountains and other garden water features?
Why not go with a solar powered water pump?
To accommodate your needs the Solar Fountain Pump Systems we carry range from 2 to 8 Watt. Browse our collection of solar water pumps for your fish ponds and solar fountains.
Enjoy your garden water features and your energy savings at the same time. Make a note of the various power levels and the flow rate of the solar water pumps before your purchase.
Please write us your review after your purchase. Your opinion is important to us!
DECORATIVE SOLAR ACCENT LIGHTS.
Solar accent lights (Set of 2) create an enjoyable and inviting glow for your landscape.
They are designed to mark a place.
Solar Spot Light - $26.99
Super High Output Spot Light (4 Super Bright LEDs). Free Shipping!
Solar spot lights like this one rely on energy from the sun to charge their batteries and provide light throughout the night.
This means that there is no need to tap into the electrical grid for these lights to operate.
The solar spot lights will work consistently, even if the whole neighborhood is dealing with a power outage.
Learn more about Solar Spot Lights at http://www.yoursolarlink.com/solar-spot-lights, where we have a great selection of solar spot lights to choose from.
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