The decision to go solar is huge and it could be challenging to find a loyal supplier that offers quality products. Before making the purchase, it is essential to understand how solar street lights are manufactured. If you possess some basic knowledge about the components used to design a solar street light, your dealer will be able to put your concerns into perspective for you to decide if the solar lights are worth the investment.
The performance and life of a solar street light system depend on its high quality parts such as LED light source, battery, controller, solar panels and other parts.
Light source: LED lights with lower wattage are the most commonly used light source in solar street lights because of the higher luminosity and lower energy consumption with zero ultraviolet emissions. Traditional street lights typically offer 5000 to 8000 working hours with much higher failure rate when compared to LED lights which deliver an average number of 75,000 working hours and are less prone to failures. The energy consumption of LED light fixture is at least 70% lower than high pressure sodium fixtures.
Batteries: Since the main function of a battery in a solar street light system is to store electricity from the PV panel, it is very important that the battery is efficient enough to provide backup power for low energy days. LiFePO4 batteries are widely used in solar street lights because they are lightweight and have a lifespan 10 times more than traditional lead acid batteries. LifePO4 batteries recharge faster and this can influence the total lifetime of solar street lights. Compared to traditional lead acid batteries used in solar lights earlier, which needed constant refill, LifePO4 batteries require almost no maintenance.
Solar Controller: Solar controller is known as the heart of the solar system. Modern solar charge controllers such as MPPT and PWM controllers prevent the battery from overcharging and undercharging. Controllers decide when to switch on or switch off the lighting and charging. The controllers ensure that the batteries are charged efficiently and with the advanced technology in controllers, panels are able to generate more power.
Solar Panels: The energy absorbed by solar panels is used to power LED lighting during the night. With the use of photovoltaic cells, solar panels convert sunlight into electrical energy and this energy is then stored in solar batteries. In India, solar panels are sold with a warranty of minimum 25 years; however, the lifespan of a solar panel can be increased if it is maintained well over time. Although monocrystalline solar panels have higher wattage modules and are well known for their efficiency, polycrystalline solar panels are largely used in solar lighting systems due to their low cost and portability.
The housing used for a solar street lighting fixture is ABS plastic or metal alloy. Solar street lights are designed for outdoor illumination and to withstand tough climatic conditions, IP65 waterproofing design is used. Thermally galvanized steel poles are used to erect the solar street lights. They can go without rusting for nearly 40 years. Before being used, the steel poles need to be treated and preserved properly so that it is protected against oxygen, salt and moisture. Hot dip galvanization and powder coating are the two methods followed to make the steel sustainable and durable for using it as solar street light poles. A well treated steel pole is less vulnerable to collisions and it can be shaped into different designs. Periodic maintenance will help it to sustain for a longer period of time providing service for lifetime.
Solar street light performance and reliability can also be increased with the way you maintain it. Although the lights do not require any routine maintenance as such, you may check if anything is blocking sunlight from falling onto the panels or if the panels are dirty which is affecting the brightness of the luminary. You may also inspect the wires and connections and look for battery corrosion if you find the lights are not performing the way it should be. With regular inspection and servicing, you can support the performance of your solar street light and help its overall life to last longer.
Choosing the right smart solar street light specification is not a simple task, therefore, it is essential that you know all the nuances of a solar street light system before discussing the technical proposal with a solar street light dealer.