Even before the first electric street light usage in 1878, there was mention of the streets being illuminated even in the prehistoric times to primarily serve the purpose of safety. Since the discovery of photovoltaic effect by Alexandre Edmond, solar energy market has been developing at a constant pace. Solar energy has gained a lot of popularity in the recent years as it spreads a message across the world to use renewable energy to save the environment while saving money on your electricity bills.
With technological advancements, the conversion efficiency of the panels has been improving significantly. Also, each and every component of a solar light system has been getting better in terms of overall design and performance. The recent developments in solar energy sector have been focusing on making the lights compact and aesthetic in design with prolonged backup. With a global awareness about the benefits of using clean and safe energy, more and more individuals and municipal projects are choosing solar street lights over regular street lights.
Solar street lights have changed over time in design and functionality. There are two types of solar street lights available now, i.e., All-in-One solar street lights and integrated solar street lights. If you are planning to invest on solar street lights, it is crucial to recognize the differences between traditional solar street lights and modern solar street lights. If you are clear about your requirements, understanding both these options will help you decide which one is worth the investment.
MODERN SOLAR STREET LIGHTS
- All-In-One solar street light: This is a new-age form of outdoor lighting solution that has gained attention because of its compact design. This integrates solar panels, charge controller, LED light and battery into one single unit. All-In-One solar street lights are available with and without motion sensors. The ones with motion sensor switch on normally like any other solar lights at dusk and the brightness gets automatically reduced by 20% after a few seconds. Once any motion is detected, the lights increase the brightness to 100% and go back down to 20% brightness if there is no movement in the area.
Integrated solar street lights: This type of lighting system has solar panel as a separate unit and controller, LED and battery as another unit. There are two models of integrated solar street lights. While model-I operates from dusk to dawn at consistent 100% brightness, model-II lights up for the first four hours at 100% brightness and later at a lower level until sunrise.
- Modern solar street lights use environment-friendly lithium-ion or LiFePO4 battery which offers enhanced product life and are maintenance-free.
- These lights are lighter in weight, sleek in design and this makes it easy for transportation and installation.
- Installation of modern solar street lights is relatively very easy and can be done by anyone with minimal assistance and basic equipment.
- Due to their compact and lightweight nature, the modern solar street lights can be easily installed onto poles or walls.
- These lights use intelligent control system with the help of motion sensor and dimming features, which helps in saving energy and thereby extending the life of the solar system.
- Modern solar street lights use LED technology to deliver brighter light for less energy used.
- There are many styles available with poly-crystalline or mono-crystalline solar panels and PWM or MPPT charge controllers.
- Since these lights are wireless, these lights can be installed in gardens, driveways, perimeters, pathways, playgrounds, parks and even remote areas as long as the selected area gets sufficient sunlight throughout the day.
- Since all the components are placed on the upper side of the pole, the risk of accidents and thefts are lesser.
- Modern solar street lights are rust proof, waterproof, shock proof and maintenance-free.
TRADITIONAL SOLAR STREET LIGHTS:
Traditional solar street lights have the same components as modern solar street lights such as solar panels, controller, LED or any other type of luminary and battery. One of the main differences is that unlike their modern counterparts, the battery used is lead acid which is placed inside a battery box and comes as a separate unit. The battery box is typically placed either on the pole towards the bottom or buried underground. The luminary and panel are connected to be battery using long cables.
- Function and operation wise, the traditional All-in-One solar street lights are the same as the modern ones but they use small SMF lead acid batteries. The life of these batteries is usually only a year or two or sometimes lesser than that.
- The lights cannot be installed on walls due to the weight of batteries used. Only All-in-One lights can be mounted on strong walls but have to be secured properly.
- The lead acid batteries used are bulky and heavier, which makes the transportation difficult. Moreover, these batteries require regular maintenance, which will cost money and labor.
- The cables used should be longer than the height of the pole itself as they have to be connected from the battery box at the bottom to the panel and battery at the top of the pole.
- Installation of a traditional solar light demands some amount of experience as the process is relatively time-consuming and complicated in comparison to the modern solar street lights.
- Compared to modern solar street lights, the overall installation cost for a traditional solar street light is around 40% to 60% more.
- If the battery box is placed towards the bottom of the pole, damage by miscreants or even theft of the unit is possible.
As you can see, the traditional solar street light has many benefits of its own. However, considering the extended life cycle they can provide, you may want to consider checking out the long-term benefits of modern solar lights even though the initial investment for modern solar street lights seem high. Even with extensive use, there is only minimal risk of overheating and since they have no external wires or boxes, threat of accidents is minimized too.