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SOLAR BASICS Dependable – Efficient – Affordable The sun is a direct source of energy. Using renewable energy technologies, we can convert that solar energy into electricity. Solar powered lighting is a relatively simple concept. In a basic way, the system operates like a bank account. Withdrawals from the battery to power the light source must be compensated for by commensurate deposits of energy from the solar panels. As long as the system is designed so deposits exceed withdrawals on an average daily basis, the battery remains charged and light source is reliably powered. The key to solar outdoor lighting is the solar power pack, which houses photovoltaic solar panels, a proprietary microprocessor control system, and batteries. This is attached to specifically designed lights having super reflectivity and high energy ballasts. • The sun provides a direct source of energy to the solar panel. • The battery is recharged during the day by direct-current (DC) electricity produced by the solar panel. • The light source is powered by the battery each night. • Electronic controls are used between the battery, light source and solar panels to protect the battery from overcharge and discharge, and to control the timing and operation of the light. HOW DOES SOLAR POWER WORK? In principal, it’s simple. A solar panel converts light to electricity. During daylight, even on cloudy days, this “solar generator” (solar panel) charges long-life batteries, which store the energy until needed. Thus, the energy of the sun is harnessed to product power. In practice, of course, solar outdoor lighting is a little more complex. In addition to large capacity batteries and solar panels, the system also incorporates sophisticated proprietary charge regulators, which stop the flow of solar generated electricity when the batteries are fully charged, and then resume charging when more power is needed. The key to solar outdoor lighting is the solar power pack, which houses photovoltaic solar panels, a proprietary microprocessor control system and batteries. It is attached to specifically designed lights having super reflectivity and high energy ballasts. HOW DEPENDABLE IS SOLAR POWERED LIGHTING? Very dependable. For one thing, it’s never too cloudy to collect solar energy. In fact, if there’s enough sunlight to see reasonably well, there’s enough to collect and store energy – even if it’s raining. The system can store enough energy to operate five or more consecutive days without sun. What’s more, solar powered outdoor lighting is virtually maintenance free, since the batteries require no water or other regular service. WHAT ADVANTAGES DOES SOLAR POWER HAVE? The systems provide unmatched convenience, reliability and efficiency. Each light has its own “power plant” – so you don’t depend on far away generating stations, transmission lines, substations, switches and transformers. Since each solar electric light operates autonomously, every light is programmed through its own control system, to turn on and off as needed. And, in the unlikely event that an individual solar outdoor light fails, no other lights are affected. Solar systems outperform traditional wired systems hands-down. In a solar installation, initial costs are incurred for the self contained energy collection and storage system. But after that, the energy itself is free! When compared to the traditional system’s cost for cable, trenching, metering equipment and construction – plus electric bills continuing forever – the solar system’s advantages can be dramatic and immediate. BENEFITS OF SOLAR POWERED LIGHTING • No trenching, no metering, no wiring • Cost savings from day one due to ease of installation • Lighting works well to deter crime • People feel safer when areas are illuminated • Can be installed in the most remote locations • No cost for daily operation • Free energy once installed – no electric bills. • Not connected to grid power – will work even when electric power is out • Will turn on even after cloudy days • Reach beyond commercial power lines • Immune to black outs FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WHAT IS A SUNHOUR? A sun hour is a unit of measurement for the intensity of sunlight hitting the Earth at a given time using factors such as climate, weather, etc. A full sun hour is measured as the intensity of sunlight at noon. The hours before and after noon will factor in at a lower percentage of what actually is useable for solar generation. WHAT ABOUT SHADING? In order for the solar panel to work properly, the solar panel will need to have a clear southern exposure to the Equator (when system is located north of the Equator, and vice versa when system is located south of the Equator). Any shading from trees, buildings or other items will decrease the efficiency of the system. WHERE IS THE PHOTOCELL? The solar panel array acts as the photocell in conjunction with the solar controller. HOW DOES THE LIGHT KNOW WHEN TO TURN ON AND OFF? The solar controller senses when to turn the light ON using voltage readings from the solar panel array. To turn OFF it also has an internal timer pre-set for a specific number of hours or in the case of a dusk to dawn setting, it will use the voltage readings from the solar panel array. WHAT IS THE “WORST CASE”? In general, “worst case” is the worst possible combinations of conditions expected in a customer's particular location. This means your shortest amount of sun hours, temperature and humidity conditions, as well as the length of your longest nights. Our systems are design with this in mind. We design each product to work as specified when solar modules provide the least charge during short or cloudy days, and while demands on the battery are at a maximum during long nights. If a full dusk to dawn system is required, we calculate your system to run on your longest night. If it is designed to work under the worst of conditions, it will work flawlessly the rest of the year. WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CLOUDY DAYS? The battery storage is charged each day and discharged each night, however, the battery storage is not designed to discharge completely each night. Generally, a specific number of back-up days is included with each system (generally around 5 days) so even after a string of cloudy days, there will be enough capacity to power the light each night. Remember also that there is some charging every day, even when it is cloudy. DOES COLD WEATHER AFFECT THE FUNCTIONALITY OF AN OUTDOOR SOLAR LIGHT? Battery capacity is affected by cold weather. A fully charged battery will lose a certain percentage of capacity in cold weather situations. Additional battery back-up is generally added to the system to ensure no loss of capacity. Additionally, in cold weather applications, additional insulation can be provided in the battery box, custom cold weather enclosures can be purchased, and in extreme situations, the batteries and battery box can be buried below the frost line. WHAT IS THE TYPICAL MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR A SOLAR LIGHTING SYSTEM? There is no regular maintenance required for a solar lighting system. However, it is helpful to keep the solar panels clean especially in a dusty climate. HOW LONG DOES THE BATTERY LAST? Under normal conditions, batteries should last 4 – 6 years with minimum weather issues. WHAT IS THE TYPICAL LIFE OF THE LAMPS IN AN OUTDOOR SOLAR LIGHT? Each different type of lamp has a different rated average life. Compact fluorescent lamps generally have a rated average life of 10,000 hours. Our CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent) lamps have a rated average life of 30,000 hours (as well as a five year warranty). HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lamps have a rated average life of approx. 20,000 hours. LPS (Low Pressure Sodium) lamps have a rated average life of approx. 18,000 hours.
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