In 1839, photovoltaic effect, the principle of producing electricity from solar energy, was discovered by Alexandre Edmond and since then, solar power market has been developing tremendously. The conversion efficiency of solar panels has been improving with technological expansion. In the recent years, solar-powered lights have gained a lot of acceptance as there is a global awareness about the benefits of using safe and clean energy, the importance to save the environment and the long-term dangers of using nonrenewable energy.
The current growth in solar energy sector aims at enhancing the performance of solar light components. The latest solar light designs are unique in design with prolonged backup and with the help of technology, solar equipment can become more affordable to everyone in the future to encourage renewable energy growth. Solar street lights are being used to illuminate both private and public spaces. There are two types of modern solar street lights available now, i.e., all in one solar street lights and integrated solar street lights.
All in one solar street lights are a new-age form of outdoor lighting solution where solar panels, charge controller, battery and LED are merged into a single unit. They are the most sought-after solar street lights now as they are compact and smaller in size. All in one solar street lights are gaining popularity because of their motion sensor feature. The lights with motion sensors switch on at dusk like any other solar lights and if there is no motion detected, the brightness automatically reduces to 20% after a few seconds. Motion sensors detect infrared waves that radiate from moving objects and increase the brightness to 100% electronically and when there is no movement, the brightness goes back down to 20%. All in one solar street lights are also available without motion sensors which operate in a time-based manner. This model of light operates at 100% brightness for the first few hours and then works at a lower level brightness for the rest of the night. All in one solar street lights are energy saving and long battery life is guaranteed with the help of motion sensors and dimming features.
Integrated solar street lights are used to light up any large open spaces and are well known for their intelligent operation. This type of lighting system has solar panel as an independent unit and controller, LED and battery are integrated into another unit. There are two types of integrated solar street lights available as per MNRE standards. Model-I operates from dusk to dawn at full brightness and can be used in areas where night-long illumination is required. Model-II integrated solar street lights are more energy efficient as they work at 100% brightness for the first few hours of operation and later at a lower level of brightness until sunrise. This helps the charge to last for a longer period of time, so the lights can continue to work even during cloudy nights. Since solar panel comes as a separate unit, the direction of the panel can be easily adjusted during installation according to the direction of sunlight. As the solar panels used in integrated solar street lights are bigger in size, they tend to charge faster and this helps the lights to illuminate even during overcast weather.
Modern solar street lights operate based on the simple principle of photovoltaic effect like traditional solar street lights. During the day, the photovoltaic (solar) cells on the monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panel convert the absorbed solar energy into electrical energy and the MPPT or PWM controller helps in regulating the voltage of this current. This energy is stored in the battery and the LED draws this current at nightfall to glow up throughout the night.
Advantages of modern solar street lights
- The lithium-ion or LiFePO4 batteries used in modern solar street lights provide enhanced product life and are environment-friendly and maintenance-free when compared to lead acid batteries used in traditional solar street lights.
- Modern solar street light designs are sleek and lightweight which help in easy transportation and installation.
- Modern solar street light installation is relatively uncomplicated and effortless and with minimal manual assistance and basic tools, the installation process can be completed by anyone following the manufacturer instructions.
- Modern solar street lights can be easily installed onto poles or walls due to their compact designs.
- Modern solar street lights offer extended life of the solar light system since they are made energy efficient with the help of motion sensor and dimming features.
- The LED technology used in modern solar street lights delivers brighter light with lesser energy consumption.
- Modern solar street lights are wireless and can be installed anywhere as long as there is sufficient sunlight for charging throughout the day.
- Risks of accidents and thefts are lesser since there is no cabling and all the components of modern solar street lights are fixed on the upper side of the pole.
- Modern solar street lights are maintenance-free and are made waterproof, shockproof and rustproof.
Modern solar street lights offer a sense of security both in urban and rural areas and improve the quality of life. They are cost effective and energy saving and increase the safety of those who use the public spaces past the daylight hours. Modern solar street lights are also being used as a decorative feature in residential properties and widely used to illuminate public roads, pathways, pavements, play areas, runways, parks, swimming pools, stadiums, decks, backyards etc.