It is exciting to finally have solar panel, battery and LED technologies advanced enough to allow for all-in-one solar lighting fixtures. As with any new technology, there are both pros & need-to-know requirements that you must understand as you make your off-grid solar lighting purchase. Our experts at Solera Solar Lighting have put together a short list that covers both the positives and limitations.
Pro #1 (EASY INSTALL) – Off-grid solar lighting is super easy to install. There is no wiring needed to power these fixtures. So, forget about trenching or cutting through walls to bring power to your fixture location. Need lighting above an entrance door to improve safety and security? Simply mount a solar wall pack fixture above the door with 4 screws and a theft-proof mounting plate.
Need-to-Know #1 – (NEEDS SUNSHINE) Off-grid solar fixtures need to be installed in a location that gets adequate sunshine. To use our solar wall pack example again, a north facing wall in Green Bay, WI is not a good place to install this particular fixture. Even though the panel is adjustable, predominantly shady conditions will not allow the battery to charge sufficiently. The fixture might light up most nights, but the performance will be a fraction of its potential.
Pro #2 – (FREE TO OPERATE) These fixtures are not connected to any power feed – we like to say they are “Free to Shine”. Obviously, the ultimate way to save on your lighting bill is to go solar powered. No lamps or ballasts needed to power these fixtures, just long-life batteries that are replaceable in most instances. So, whether your business is looking to be greener and help reduce the stress on our power grids or looking to save a bunch of money, off-grid solar fixtures will certainly help.
Need-to-Know #2 – (OUTPUT LIMITATIONS) Since there is no voltage power, trying to match the light output of a 400W HID fixture is still difficult. Today’s all-in-one solar technology allows us to match a maximum of 250W HID. In the future, 400W and beyond will be obtainable with solar power, but for right now our 250W equivalent area light is as bright as off-grid light output goes.
Pro #3 – (ATTRACTIVE DESIGNS) Off-grid solar lighting comes in classic fixture designs with all-in-one components. Because of the advances in panel, battery and LED technologies, it is now possible to have fixtures completely powered by the sun that look like traditional fixtures. One of the best examples in the Solera catalog is the Post Top fixture. This light features the lines, shape and dimensions of typical post tops found on main streets around the USA. The key is that now in 2020, the solar panels, batteries and light engines are small enough to physically fit within traditional fixture housings.
Need-to-Know #3 – (BATTERIES DON’T LIKE EXTREME COLD) Batteries have temperature limitations, especially on the low end of operation. While the batteries are compact enough to fit in the fixture housings, they still cannot operate in extreme weather conditions. The Solera Off-Grid solar fixtures have batteries that will not charge efficiently below 32°F. The batteries can discharge all the way down to -4°F, but on cold winter days in the northern states, it is important to remember the off-grid fixtures might not illuminate well at night. However, our new Solera Hybrid 365 Area Light utilizes the very latest battery technology that can charge all the way down to -4°F and operate at -40°F. These numbers will continue to improve as the science behind battery charging advances.
To learn more or to get help with your next commercial solar lighting project, contact us at email@example.com.