Solar street lighting

Solar street lights

Commercial solar powered street lights

The Australian and NZ lighting industry generally categorises street lighting as minor roads and suburban streets, which tend to be AS 1158 3.1 P category lighting and therefore generally requiring an LED of less than 50w.

However used as a generic term, solar street lighting includes roads, flag lighting, intersections, car parks, and larger path lighting.

Solar street lighting can be permanent or temporary utilising relocatable concrete blocks that are engineered for the respective wind regions, and have certified pick up points.

Vertex solar street light system

The Vertex® range provides mission critical lighting solar street lighting, the first and only to provide a five year performance guarantee on top of the strong product warranties. What this means is that Orca Solar Lighting® guarantees the lighting levels and battery back-up that was pre agreed to when the project was quoted. The strong warranties include a 10 year warranty on the USA made Cree light fittings, a five year plus five year pro-rate warranty on the Australian made batteries.

With over 2200 installed in Australia since 2010, Orca Solar Lighting’s Vertex® gives the purchaser peace of mind that they are investing in a proven system that performs in the extreme Australian environment.

Many of Australia’s most well know organisations have invested in the Vertex solar powered street lighting system, we can provide many referees of customers who have installed many and have had them operating for many years.

The Vertex solar street light is very quick and easy to install, it is plug and play and installed by contractors all around Australia.

Performs well for all AS 1158 3.1 P lighting categories and some V lighting categories

Generous autonomy with 4 + nights battery back-up ( allowing for the longest 15 hour long winter nights)all night at full illumination. Be aware, many solar street lights dim as the battery discharges therefore fall short of the agreed lighting level required.

Reasons to Choose Vertex® solar street lighting systems.

  1. We use street light fittings that are well utilised and highly respected by lighting and infrastructure professionals throughout Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.  This provides peace of mind that optimal lighting outcomes are achieved in line with AS/NZS 1158.
  2. These reputable and higher quality light fittings enables Orca Solar Lighting® to be able to achieve the same or superior lighting outcomes, with significantly less light poles than many of our competitors. The Vertex may have a higher upfront capital cost per solar street light pole than some of our competitors, however our lower lifecycle cost and the requirement for significantly less poles should significantly reduce the project and ongoing costs utilising the Vertex®.
  3. Five year performance guarantee for the entire Vertex® system, over and above the strong product warranties. This provides the owner with confidence the light levels and duration, autonomy (battery back-up from a fully charged battery without any input from the solar panel), will be maintained.
  4. Electrical compliance. Specification grade product design complying with AS/NZS 4509 Stand Alone Power Systems, which encompasses all extra low voltage renewable energy systems. Most of our competitors DO NOT even try to comply with these standards.

How solar street lights operate

Stand-alone solar street lighting systems create stored energy in the daytime by converting ultra violet light (sunlight) into power that is stored in the battery, which is then available to be used at night. The intelligent lighting controllers detect dusk, automatically turning the system on, and detects dawn, turning the system off. There is also the ability to program the lights to dim, brighten, or turn off at certain times throughout the night

A quality environmentally friendly solar LED light will have enough battery back-up (autonomy) to run the light for a minimum of four full nights battery back-up, to ensure it will provide reliable light through prolonged poor weather.

Project profiles

Roberson Barracks upgrade. Department of Defence

Street lighting for Townsville school

Halfway Creek Flag Lighting. Roads & Maritime Services NSW

Questions answered

Planning a successful outdoor solar street lighting installation.

Introduction:

Solar lighting is a reliable, compliant, and in many cases a more cost-effective lighting solution, utilised by some of Australia’s most well-known organisations, and incorporated into very large infrastructure projects.

The improvement of technology and methodologies over the past 10 years has been significant, however there are still inexperienced manufacturers/suppliers,therefore it is up to the customer to invest in education at the beginning of the process to ensure an optimum outcome.

The following factors need to be assessed (and are often inadvertently overlooked) when selecting solar lights. Awareness of these factors preceding the decision to purchase will certainly avoid possible system failure, costly replacement and servicing costs.

Qualify the manufacturer/supplier.

Find out how long the solar lighting product, supplier or manufacturer has been in the business, to ensure they have the necessary experience and can demonstrate a robust track record.  Ensure they provide numerous references on relevant jobs. If necessary, go out and inspect their lights at night.

Quality components.

Ensure all the components have the credentials and have been in the market for a sufficiently long time to have proven themselves. Also find out if spare parts are readily available and what warranties are provided.

Quality Lighting outcome.

  • For mission critical and compliant lighting, a professional lighting design should be conducted to ensure the optimum optic is utilised so the least number of lights are used, whilst the light is compliant, safe, compliant to relevant Australian standards, and caters for the following points:
  • In most instances, natural and warm white colour temperatures are the most desirable (4500k or less), research now shows that cool and blue white colour temperatures are detrimental for humans (and animals) affecting natural circadian rhythms.
  • No glare to the user.
  • Dark sky compliant and no light pollution (into neighbouring properties or up light).
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: To comply with Australian pathway lighting standards (AS/NZS 1158 3.1 2020 PP sub categories), the light levels must be based on the LOWEST level the light runs on all night. (This pertains particularly to lights that use sensors to dim and boost the lights). If the lowest/dimmest light level throughout the night is less that required by the particular sub-category, it does not comply.

Sufficient solar panel and battery.

This is one of the biggest issues, some manufacturers/ suppliers do not understand system sizing well, and supply a battery and/or solar panel that is too small.

This ends up being a big cost to the end customer as it causes unreliable light, and the battery life plummets with the frequent deep discharges.  A quality and properly sized battery (with a correctly sized solar panel) should last 5 – 10 years. Batteries are the largest and most expensive consumable in a solar lighting system so it is important to get this right.

Here is a general rule of thumb. For most of mainland Australia, a solar lighting system requires four full nights of battery back-up, allowing for the LONGEST winter nights. For example, Melbourne has 14.39 hour long nights, therefore the battery should run the light at 100% illumination for 57.56 hours with no input from the solar panel.  This example is used only to give an indication of battery back-up requirements, for example in the tropics such as Darwin or Cairns, the monsoon season requires over 5 nights battery back-up, however being the summer season, the night times are a lot shorter.

To calculate this amount of battery back-up, a lead acid cannot discharge more than 70% and the average daily depth of discharge should not exceed 50%. A lithium phosphate Ion (LiFePO4) should not be discharged more than 80%. It is important to note that solar panel ration is CRITICAL, a LiFePO4 battery at 80% of discharge is going to take a lot more solar panel to recharge than an acid battery at 50% discharge.

The battery size calculation then needs further derating applied to allow for performance drop in extreme temperatures, degradation over time and voltage drop.

The solar panel needs a de-rate to allow for high temperatures, dirt on the solar panel, voltage drop and degradation over time.  ASNZS 4509.2 Stand-alone power systems - system design states a minimum of 30% extra solar panel allowance.

Planning for shading:

Many proposed lighting locations will have shading from neighbouring buildings and trees. Solar lights perform properly with the solar panels unobstructed from shade all day, all year around.

Performance plummets with shade and most solar lights are designed to perform with no shade ever on the solar panel.

For most of mainland Australia, the most challenging time of year for solar lighting is winter, when the night times are longest, the days are shortest, and the sun is tracking very low to the North, therefore the shadows are the longest. The exception to this is tropical northern locations, summer monsoon months are the most challenging times for solar lighting.  The supplier/installer of the solar lighting project needs to carefully assess the shade and if necessary allow for buffers or lower power settings on the solar lights to allow for any shade at site. Alternatively, the light pole can be powered by a solar ‘slave’ pole, which has the solar panel and battery, located in a shade free location, with a low voltage cable trenched and cabled to the light pole in the shade.

We recommend a highly experienced solar lighting company conduct the shade assessment and any slave pole planning.

Compliance.

(This pertains to larger solar slighting systems) that have a battery larger than 76AH 12volt (or equivalent).
Ensure the proposed solar lighting system conforms to the relevant Australian standards such as AS/NZS 3000 electrical safety standards, AS/NZS 4509.1 battery enclosure signage, AS/NZS 4509.2 Standalone power systems – system design which refers to and requires compliance to AS/NZS 3000 electrical safety standards.

Failure to comply with AS/NZS 3000 and AS/NZS 4509.2 contravenes The Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The limitations of Integrated (all in one) style solar lights.

Integrated solar lights have their place, however the fundamental nature of their design severely limits their suitability in southern latitudes (in the southern hemisphere), where the sun tracks very low to the North in winter, causing the direct sunlight to hit the solar panel on a very shallow angel. (Integrated solar lights tend to have a very shallow solar panel angle to the horizontal). This panel angle is more suitable in equatorial latitudes where the sun does not stray far off straight overhead, therefore the solar panel operates effectively.

Please read the Lighting Council of Australia ‘Solar Lighting Guide’ and the ‘Fit for purpose – the limitations of integrated solar lights’ document or this technical paper https://orcasolarlighting.com.au/solar-collection-methods-for-solar-lighting-applications.html for a deeper scientific explanation.

Note: This shallow solar panel angle issue does not necessarily apply to solar lighting bollards, which run at low wattage output and generally installed closer together, where-as integrated solar lights are generally run at high wattage output to compete with proper solar lighting systems that have a completely independent swiveling and angle adjustable solar panel.

In Summary:

Solar lighting can be a very reliable, compliant, low maintenance and cost-effective solution, however requires a bit more planning up front, and due diligence into product selection.

If these points are addressed, maximum safety, product life and minimal maintenance amounts to considerable long-term savings.

Street lighting standards update.

In February 2020, the relevant street lighting standards (AS/NZS 1158 3.1) were updated to the 2020 version. A summary of the changes as follows: >

PR1 P1 (Vertical requirement removed with enhanced uniformity requirement)
PR2 P2 (Vertical requirement removed with enhanced uniformity requirement)
PR3 P3 (Vertical requirement removed with enhanced uniformity requirement)
PR4 New sub-category
PR5 P4 (Vertical requirement removed)
PR6 P5 (Enhanced average illuminance requirement)