Life on Earth is possible because of the energy that comes from the Sun. Around half of the light reaching our atmosphere actually passes through the air and clouds to the surface. Then, it is being absorbed and radiated upwards. Around 90% of the heat is then absorbed by greenhouse gases and radiated back towards the surface.
All of this implies that we live in a greenhouse. Over the past few decades, a lot of things have changed. Greenhouse gases emitted from human activities have increased—becoming the most significant driver of observed climate change since the mid-20th century.
In the U.S. alone, the emissions of greenhouse gas increased by 7% from 1990 to 2014. What does all of this mean?
The answer is simple—the more human activity there is on Earth, the more greenhouse gases are emitted. The effects of this are translated into climate change, which is bad for our health and comes with rising temperatures, extreme weather, poor air quality and a lot of vector-borne diseases.
Road pollution: What impact does it have and how can we change it
Nowadays, one of the major sources of air pollution (through the increased amount of greenhouse gases) is road transportation. Vehicles emit a substantial level of pollutants including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM)—the first of which contains nitrogen oxide (NO2) which is a toxic gas that caused 79,000 premature deaths across 41 European countries in 2015.
What’s even more frightening is that road transport accounts for a third of all NOx emissions and is the dominant source in urban and heavily-trafficked areas. Fortunately, a lot of this has changed over the past few years with electric vehicles—designed to completely eliminate fossil fuel waste.
Vehicles aside, another way we can decrease the carbon footprint is through “green” lights. Below, we are expanding on this topic in detail.
Using solar street lights to reduce the carbon footprint
Did you know that half of the carbon emissions created are actually generated from the production of electricity?
As you can guess, lighting plays a vital role in these emissions. According to The Climate Group, a switch to energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) technology “could save over 1,400 million tons of CO2 and avoid the construction of 1,250 power stations.” This is why the initiative started encouraging all public lighting around the world to change and be LED-based by 2025.
One study carried out in 2017 showed that modern lighting reduced carbon emissions by 570 million tons. This obviously included cases with LED street lights on roads and solar LED street light examples around cities. And while we are at the subject, let’s define modern lighting.
What is a modern street light and how it can help alleviate pollution
Generally speaking, a modern street light is a light that relies on innovative sources of energy. A solar-powered street light (solar street light) is the perfect example of modern light. It consists of a solar panel, a light pole, a battery, light and expansion components as well as smart modules. It works by converting the energy received from the sun (through the panel) to actual light—emitted through the corresponding LED and CFL diodes (which street lights are based on).
As you can guess at this point, solar energy is one of the best ways to reduce the carbon footprint. This is why many people are exploring the best solar street light products and the manufacturers are increasingly focusing on this technology as a revolutionary one. Even more significantly, solar energy can realize the rapid deployments of street lights in rural areas (including ones located off the power grid) and help provide urban and suburban security and economic growth everywhere across the country.
Types of solar street lights: Main classification
Solar street lights are a revolution on their own. As such, they are relatively difficult to categorize. However, there is a classification between different types of lights. This does not focus on the different solar street light prices—but on the actual anatomy of each different product.
In that manner, the best way to classify solar street lights is:
- By Product Type: There are two main types of solar street lights by product: LED and CFL.
- By Connection Type: When it comes to the type of connection, there are standalone solar lights and grid-connected ones.
- By End User: The solar lighting type is used by people (residential), businesses (commercial) and factories (industrial).
- By Geography: Geographically, the classification of solar street lights bases on different regions including North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Middle East & Africa.
What’s also interesting from a geographic standpoint is that many key technology players are entering the solar industry. While in Europe we can see Philips leading the way with a variety of conventional and LED inventions, the Asian market sees brands like Jiawei, Yingli Solar, SOKOYO, Kingsun and others paving the way to a bright future.
As such, the reports from MarketWatch suggest that the top three companies now are Philips, Jiawei and Yingli Solar—with a market share of 7.35%, 3.43% and 2.63% in 2016.
Below, we are focusing on the part of buying solar street lights, solar street light prices and guides on how to choose the best products.
Buying solar street lights: The important things to look out for
As we discussed above, there are various types of solar street lights. The main considerations when buying solar street lights for modern lighting include quality, durability, installation, expansibility, appearance and customer services.
If you are an individual looking for the best solar LED street light products for your backyard, you should obviously focus on quality, durability as well as price. Typically and relatively, the residential users give priority to cheaper solar street lights which are easy to install and look good—rather than other choices.
However, commercial users, businesses, factories and even communities and cities should focus on durability, quality, custom applications and customer services so that they can benefit from the street LED lights in the long run and get the best return on their investment (ROI). Even if this means spending more, solar street lights are known to provide numerous benefits and tremendous cost savings in the long run.
So, the best solar street light is the one that fits your needs or the needs of your environment and society.
Tips for purchasing solar street lights
If you want to ensure that your solar LED street light is working well, you obviously need to dig a little deeper and read more about solar street lights, product types and more.
In times when solar energy is on the rise, you can see the solar street light prices online and browse websites of renowned solar street light manufacturers. However, the best solar street light is a different thing for everyone. Below, we are listing some of the most important tips for buying solar street lights:
- If you are an individual user, you don’t really need to focus on finding a brand new light with every component included. Instead, you can replace the existing light with an integrated light that comes with a built-in solar panel and battery.
- If you are a commercial user or a company, you should certainly consider the ease of installation. For multiple units, hard-to-install solar street lights can cause a lot of problems.
- Industrial users and government projects may find the purchase of solar street LED lights even more complex. They also may require custom applications which is why there needs to be a body examining the use and deployment of this technology in different areas and applications.
- Keep in mind to review the qualifications of the street light manufacturer, the certifications of its products, the past similar projects and the general terms and conditions.
- Batteries in solar LED lights are the main store of energy generated by the sun. They must be both durable and easily replaceable, which is why you should focus on products offering these features and manufactured with common and standard technical parameters that ensuring you can easily find a replacement or alternative in the market. The durability, moisture- and heat-resistance is another key factor to watch, given that most of these lights are installed and used outdoors and should be used under extreme weather.
- Photovoltaic cells are the ones which trap the light from the sun and transform it into electrical energy. In some solar street lights, these cells are ingrained into the light fixtures and in others, they come in separate arrays attached externally to the pole containing the LED light. You don’t need to understand the luminance of the light by measuring the amount of the cells or the size of the panel. The wattage (Watt value) of the light—as a symbol of power—can be especially useful in this manner—related to the actual power of the light.
- The light pole which the solar LED street light is mounted on should be sturdy and be able to withstand its weight. It should also be designed to stay erect even in bad weather conditions like typhoons.
- The intensity of light and expanse of the area are additional things to consider. Improper LED solar street lighting can result even from lights that are working perfectly.
We hope that these tips will help you find the best solar street lights for your needs and budget.
So, are solar street lights worth the investment?
At the end of the day, everyone considering the purchase of solar street lights asks themselves if they are really worth it.
According to recent research, the global solar street lighting market is expected to hit $5 billion by 2024. While the price of a street light differs in different continents and countries, the prices of solar lights in manufacturing hubs like China and Asian countries are among the most affordable.
Speaking of which, the general price range of solar street lights is anywhere between US$100 to US$5,000 per one light, depending on the setup and needs of the system.
The prices differ when it comes to the models and units too. For instance, on Alibaba (the leading Asian wholesale website) you can find a cheap solar street light at a price of $50 for the base model—but one with all the elements and optimal lifespan usually costs more than $100.
On the other hand, a search on Amazon for “solar street lights” shows that top quality models of these lights usually start at $200 or even more. This is the difference between the markets and their manufacturing capabilities.
From a price perspective, one cost comparison between standard lights and solar lights in the U.S. showed that while the average solar LED street light costs $3,000 while a standard light is $1,500—the cost of installation for solar lights is quite cheaper. Maintaining each light is also around the same, while the energy consumed is $0 with solar (standalone light) and around $1,400 per one standard light.
The installation is in general very simple and affordable.
The typical lifespan for a traditional street light averages around 5,000 to 8,000 hours while solar LED lights last from 5 to 7 years. During this period, they are obviously the cheaper and more efficient option.
Many of the lights depend on the location that they are deployed in—as you know, not every place on Earth is equally covered by the sun (solar irradiation) which is why in some places, the output generated by solar energy is higher compared to other areas. Also, you should certainly consider your budget and ideal type of solar street light.
Below, we are listing the pros and cons of this lighting technology.
Pros of solar street lights
- Solar street lights are the greener option and the eco-friendly alternative that actually reduces the carbon footprint.
- Most of them do not require standard electrical power—but there are some which require the lights to be grid-connected in order to power the lights even when there is no sun as the abundant weather—or not enough power stored in the batteries.
- They can be installed anywhere where there is enough solar irradiation.
- Solar lights emit a gentle LED light that operates more efficiently (12VDC rather than AC power).
- Many grants and tax incentives are available to be offered to help lower the cost of going solar.
- Each solar light operates independently from the next (except for signs, billboards, etc.)
- The low voltage energy provided by the solar panels is safe to work with.
- Solar LED lights with directional lighting can provide more light where it is needed—and less where it isn’t needed.
- There are many styles and options to choose from for different users and purposes.
Cons of solar street lights
- The color of solar light can sometimes be too blue with some types of LEDs. This choice does not compliment the landscape.
- Cheaper solar street lights can be of low-quality and not that long-lasting.
- There is no solar power at night so there is a need for a large battery to operate the lights.
- Depending on geographical locations, the size of the solar panels and coverage can vary.
- Solar insolation in winter may also be an issue in some places.
As you can see from everything that we covered, the key to a good solar street lighting system is to get the maximum amount of light (in Lumens) for the minimum electricity of Watts.
This is a tricky point mostly because some lights illuminate as a byproduct of heat and use lots of electricity to produce light. Solar lighting does not produce CO2, heat and is the greener option. Because of this, many are certain that the pros outweigh the cons and that as we move into a more innovative future, even solar street lights will be optimized to offer nothing but benefits in the long run. And yes, that is expected even in areas with less or limited sunlight.
Are you considering solar street lights for your home, community, company, site or city? We hope that this guide to solar street lights answered your questions.
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