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 roadsflag 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.

How solar street lights operate

Solar street lights are powered by solar panels mounted at the top of the pole. They convert sunlight into power which charges  battery throughout the day. Night time is automatically detected and activated at dusk by the drop in solar charge voltage. The intelligent charge controller detects that the charge cycle is complete and illuminates the light automatically.

The solar street light charge controller can be custom programmed with timer settings such as on / off dim or interval time settings. By default the charge controller will keep the light on from dusk until dawn. The detection of voltage coming from the solar panel will switch the solar street light off and begin re-charging the batteries.

Quality solar street lights keep enough back up battery power in the reserve storage to operate without charge for 4 or 5 sequential days at full illumination (no dimming).  This is to ensure operation is not affected by heavily overcast, dark or cloudy conditions and the lamp will continue to operate during these times. Be aware of solar street lights that start to dim when the battery is discharges, therefore fall short of the agreed lighting level required.

Planning a successful outdoor solar street lighting installation.

The purpose of this document is to assist lighting, assets and project manager professional plan, procure and install successful outdoor solar street lighting (street, path, car park, area, park, jetty, marina).

Introduction:

Solar street lights are now a proven reliable and commercially viable and reliable solution for many lighting applications and is fast become a mainstream solution utilised by some of the most well-known and discerning organisations.

The improvement of technology and methodologies over the past 10 years have been significant, however there are still many inexperienced manufacturers/suppliers supplying product that is not up to an acceptable standard.

The following factors need to be assessed (often inadvertently over looked) 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 street lighting manufacturer/supplier 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 the 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 and safe and caters for the following points:
  • In most instances natural and warm white colour temperatures are the most desirable (4300k or less), research now shows that cool and blue white colour temperatures are detrimental for humans (and animals) affecting their natural circadian rhythms.
  • No glare to the user.
  • Dark sky compliant and no light pollution (into neighbouring properties or up light).

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 batteries life plummets as they are being subjected to frequent deep discharges.  (A quality and properly sized battery (with a correctly sized solar panel) should last 5 – 7 years). Batteries are the largest and most expensive consumable 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, in Melbourne this is 14.39 hours 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 in summer, 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%. For a lithium battery, no more than 80%.

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 determines a minimum of 30% extra solar panel to allow for these extra factors.

Compliance. (This pertains to larger solar street lighting systems).

Ensure the proposed solar lighting system conforms to 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 and the light fixture is RCM compliant.

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

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

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.

Solar street lights FAQ's


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