Our country has recently gained recognition and appreciation for its expanding solar market when British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, at the Climate Ambition Summit praised India’s incredible advancement towards solar energy. Solar street lights have been replacing traditional lights in roads, runways, parks, stadiums, etc. Understanding the economic benefits, more cities and streets are transitioning to solar energy to illuminate their roads. These lights are typically used to avoid the risks associated with dark streets.
Impressed by the sustainable and convenient modern street lighting solutions, corporations and governments are taking interest to install solar street lights at intersections and other pedestrian locations. To reduce nighttime accidents and crimes and to increase safety, the lights can be installed at mid-blocks so that the road features are visible to both vehicular traffic and pedestrians. Solar street lights also help to illuminate areas that have little access to grid electricity. Rural areas that run their operations with the help of solar energy can function just like their counterparts and prosper in the areas of education and labor.
Advantages of solar lights
Solar lights have many advantages; one mainly being it is a self sustainable unit. A solar light works automatically, does not require any manual intervention, charges during the day and switches on during the night. Since it is a self-powered unit, this light does not depend on grid to power it.
Disadvantages of solar light
Solar lights are a modern way of lighting and are self powered. One of the biggest disadvantages of solar lights is due to bad weather sometimes solar lights do not give optimal backup.
Solar street lights are being used in residential and industrial projects too as outdoor lighting. While some use the lights to add beauty to their property, some utilize solar energy to bring in a sense of security and safety into their building and surrounding areas. Like any other energy source, solar energy has a few advantages and disadvantages in its application and understanding both sides of the coin can help you decide if investing on solar energy is worth it.
Advantages and Disadvantages of solar light
Advantages of solar street light
- Pollution reducing and energy saving:
There is a global awareness now amongst people and authorities regarding the importance of using resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly energy sources. Solar street lights use no fuel to operate and work purely on solar energy. Solar energy is unlimited and imperishable and is the perfect green lighting solution. Non-renewable energy sources like coal, gas, oil, etc. can eventually run out. People are becoming conscious about the fact that the use of solar lights helps in reducing the carbon footprints of individuals, homes and businesses.
Solar street lights are a better investment option considering the capital plus the operation and maintenance costs. Since these lights are dependent on solar energy, there is no need to pay for your electricity every month. Compared to traditional street lights, solar street lights offer long-term benefits. The lights are wireless and independent of any utility grid so no operational costs are incurred in the installation of these lights. Since no manual intervention is needed after the installation, you may save money in maintenance costs also. It is important to also remember that solar street lights are capable of illuminating throughout the night irrespective of power cuts and harsh weather conditions.
- No complicated power facilities:
Solar street lights are independent in nature and are not connected to your electricity provider. There is only very minimal cabling required to connect the solar panel to the luminary and there are no external wires used outside or at the base of the pole, so they do not pose any threats of accidents. Overheating, electrocutions or strangulation are out of the question when it comes to solar street lights.
Usually, the commercial power lighting projects are time consuming and complicated since they involve foundation work of cables, digging, cable pipe laying, cable threading inside pipes and ditch landfill. All these procedures require a lot of labors and equipment. Moreover, there are additional costs on the transformer, distribution cabinet, and switch board also. However, each solar lighting system is an independent unit and do not need any trenching, cable laying or other similar procedures, saving time, money and labor.
- No interdependency weaknesses:
Traditional grid electricity uses a high level of interdependency. Interdependency of cables simply means problems in one area can affect many other connected cables and affect the whole power supply. This is not a concern at all in solar street lighting as each unit is an independent power generating system and if one light does not work, you need to check and fix that single unit only.
- No cable costs or cable theft:
Cable theft is a common problem in remote areas and laying cables and transportation of materials to those areas can cost you dearly. These issues can be completely avoided when the traditional lights are replaced by a solar lighting system. Since each unit is independent and free from any cable connection, there will be no cable to steal. In case a solar-related theft occurs, it will not affect the operation of any other unit in the system. This helps in reducing any potential losses to a minimum.
- Intelligent control, easy installation and maintenance:
Solar street lighting uses an impressive dusk-to-dawn feature and is controlled by built-in intelligence. The whole installation process is simple and time-saving. The procedure requires only basic stools and minimum labor, making the process safe and economic. Compared to conventional street lights, solar street lights require very minimal maintenance. Apart from cleaning and doing a few inspections once in a while, there is nothing much to do to ensure its longevity.
- Available in wide ranges:
Solar lighting technology has evolved over the years and researchers and scientists are still working towards making the panels more effective. In the future years, solar panels prices are expected to be less expensive. There is a variety of solar street lights available now with different features, sizes, types, styles, capacities, etc. and are aesthetically designed to suit your functional needs.
Disadvantages of Solar street Lights
- Expensive than conventional lights:
Solar street lights in comparison with regular street lights require higher initial investment. People usually hesitate to invest worrying about this but not realizing in the long run, the actual cost of solar street lights is relatively much lower considering the electricity, operational and maintenance costs and the longer life cycle of solar street lights.
- Risk of theft:
Since the lights are non-wired and costly, the risk of theft is higher compared to conventional street lights. Even though there is no risk of cable theft, the luminary and panel can be easily stolen and the components have relatively higher monetary value.
- Occasional inspection when placed in extreme weather conditions:
In extreme weather conditions, the solar panels may not function very well which can lead to reduced energy production. Snow, dust or moisture can get accumulated on horizontal solar panels affecting the performance of the PV panels. The users are always encouraged to install the panels at an angle to avoid water accumulation; however, it is also suggested to check the panels and other parts of the light frequently to extend the life cycle of the system.
- Replacement of batteries:
The modern lithium batteries used in solar street lights have long life compared to batteries used in earlier years. Nonetheless, rechargeable batteries can get exhausted over time and must be replaced a few times within the lifetime of the solar street light fixture. You need to include the replacement cost as part of your maintenance cost while calculating the overall investment to purchase a solar street light.
The most common advantages and disadvantages of a solar street lighting system have been laid out here and it is obvious that the overall pluses outweigh the minuses. Across the world, more and more people are switching to solar energy and taking a huge step towards being environment friendly. It is time that you understand both the pros and cons and decide whether it is worth investing in solar energy. Being a part of this revolution can help not just our generation but also the generations to come to live in a clean, safe, and healthy environment.