Light energy from the sun has made life on earth possible. Almost 30 years ago, energy from sunlight was only beneficial in providing natural illumination during the daytime.
However, technological advancements have enabled humans to harness sunlight energy and use it in numerous ways long after the sun has set.
The energy can now be harvested, stored, and used in solar water pumps, solar lighting, residential power, industrial power, and many more.
While the prices of competing energy sources have been escalating, solar energy is natural and doesn’t require any additional production costs making it more affordable.
So, a good number of people can afford to buy residential solar lights such as solar wall lights, solar garden lights, solar security lights, and solar floodlights.
In addition, solar street lights are useful in providing illumination on roads and other public places. Solar street lights are a bit more expensive compared to residential solar lights.
However, they have powerful lumens which can run all night, and their lifespan can go up to 3 to 5 years, especially when you buy a quality one from a reputable seller.
Before buying a solar street light, there are vital things you should know to avoid making mistakes.
Sellers might give you misleading information, if they are only interested in profit making. At the end of the day, it’s you as a buyer who will have problems with the solar street light you buy.
Therefore to help you make a sound and informed decision, this article uncovers six things you should know before buying solar street lights.
Consequently, we will explain in-depth how you should choose a solar street light that is perfect for you.
So, without further ado, let’s hop in.
1. Determinethebesttype of Solar Panel for you
Among the six things you should know before buying a solar street light, the number one thing is knowing your solar panel type.
So, to let you understand better, let’s dig deep into the three available types of solar panels.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
As the name suggests, these solar panels contain monocrystalline solar cells. They are manufactured from silicon ingot sliced into wafers to form cells.
The silicon ingot is grown from a highly pure single crystal of silicon. Thus, this type of solar panel is commonly considered efficient, as it is the purest.
Amorphous (Thin Film) Solar Panels
The amorphous solar planes are made from non-crystalline amorphous silicon (a-Si). They are the least expensive, since they are the easiest to manufacture.
They comprise three main parts. First, the Photovoltaic Material is responsible for converting sunlight into energy. Second, Conductive Sheets improve conductivity by preventing energy loss, and the third part is a Protective Layer to protect the panel, thus enhancing its durability.
However, this type of solar panel is the least effective hence not commonly used.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
The Polycrystalline Solar Panels comprise various silicon crystals packed in a single PV cell. This type of solar panel tends to be more heat tolerant and easy to manufacture.
Thereby, they are affordable and effective but not more so than monocrystalline solar panels.
Therefore, you must determine which of the above three types is right for you depending on your preferences.
However, we recommend using the monocrystalline solar panels for solar street lighting purposes, primarily in governmental projects.
The monocrystalline solar panels can get sunlight energy even during cloudy weather. In addition, they are small in size and have a pleasant look compared to the other types.
However, they are more costly, so if your budget doesn’t allow you to afford the monocrystalline, the Polycrystalline Solar Panels are the second best option.
Please don’t depend on the Amorphous (Thin Film) Solar Panels for solar street lights, because they are the least effective.
2. Lighting Technology
The HID and LED lights are two standard lighting technologies for solar street lights. First, the high-intensity discharge(HID) lights are the oldest in the game.
The HID lamps used on solar street lights involve an inner arc tube(the burner), outer covering(bulb), and gas. The inner arc tube is the one that is supplied with voltage and ionizes the gas, usually argon, mercury, or metal halides.
As a result, the amount of brightness is powerful.
However, the HID lights consume a lot of energy and are consequently energy inefficient. In addition, they wear out faster; hence they will need replacement every few years of service.
So, HID lights are not viable if you need durable and energy-effective solar street lights, making LED lights the best option.
The Light-emitting diodes(LED) lights emit visible light in the diode using tiny microchips. They are very efficient and can produce bright light without burning out.
The only disadvantage is that the LEDs get dimmer over time. However, the dimming process is so slow that they can serve for many years before they need replacement.
Moreover, the LED lights are the most energy-efficient, hence the perfect bet for anyone requiring cost-effective solar street lights.
3. Solar Battery Capacity
Solar street lights use solar panels to harvest energy from the sun and store it in a battery to be used later for lighting purposes.
Both voltage and AH determine the battery capacity. So, some buyers go wrong when they ask about AH only and assume the voltage.
The two are equally essential to have enough battery capacity for holding sufficient energy.
For instance, choosing between two batteries of the same AH, say 30AH, and different voltages such as 3.2 volts and 12 volts, the 12 volts batteries have more capacity.
So, look for a battery that has a combination of high amperes per hour and voltage output.
If you choose the low voltage batteries, they won’t have the capacity to support substantial power for led solar lights.
Consequently, the small voltage means a high current needs to be set to reach the optimum power wattage. As a result, the high current requires thick wires and can hurt the solar charge controller.
Generally, the small voltage batteries are ideal for LED power, not more than 20 watts.
Moreover, they are cost-effective, since small voltage batteries are less expensive than larger ones, which need complicated installation accessories.
4. Luminous Efficacy
Luminous efficiency is the lighting efficiency of the solar street lights, and it is measured in lumens per watt(lm/w).
Remember we recommended LED lights, since they save more energy which is used in maintaining sufficient brightness.
Therefore, the luminous efficacy depends on the wattage used.
Unlike the electric incandescent lamp and Fluorescent Lamp fixtures, LED lamp fixtures are ideal if you need high luminous intensity.
For instance, the Fluorescent Lamp has a potential of 50-60 lumens per wattage, while the electric incandescent lamp can produce only 12-24 lumens per wattage. In the case of LED lights, they are available in various lumens per wattage, which all have the potential to produce sustainable brightness.
For example, there are LED light fixtures which can produce 100-110 lumens per wattage, while there are modern ones that have the potential to generate more than 200lm/w.
Therefore, you should consider the various lamp fixtures if you intend to get a more luminous solar street light. Of course, the LED light fixtures are the best bet since they have high luminous intensity ratings.
Also, they can generate much light with minimal energy consumption. However, don’t be more focused on the high Lumens per wattage rating and forget to consider how the luminaire focuses its light.
5. Solar Panel Size
As we stated earlier, the energy from the sun is harvested by the solar panel before it is converted to useful forms. So, it’s essential to know the size of that solar panel you will be using for solar street lighting purposes.
The enhanced solar energy technology has brought about small solar panels which are more powerful.
So, a solar panel can contain fewer solar cells to maintain a pleasant appearance with its small size. Therefore, never assume a more extensive solar panel can produce more power than the small ones.
Some companies value quantity over quality. They manufacture huge-sized solar panels to attract more buyers, who might be fooled that the bigger size translates to more power.
However, some solar energy companies use broken and low-quality solar chips to lower production costs. In the end, the market gets flooded with poor-quality huge solar panels having a short lifespan.
We don’t dispute that the size of solar panels matters. Yes, it directly affects the kind of wattage the panel can produce since the more extensive the panel size, the higher its potential to generate more power.
However, this doesn’t apply in any situation, because not all physically large solar panels will have a high power rating.
So, you can select the best size of solar panel based on physical observation, but the most reliable method is by quantifying its power rating.
Just Like we have powerful small batteries, small solar panels can produce more power.
6. Solar Panel Durability
At last, you should understand the service duration guarantee of the solar street light you intend to buy. Suppose you buy a solar panel that cannot withstand harsh weather conditions like heavy winds, snow, and hail.
In that case, the solar panel durability will be compromised, and in less than a decade, you will be required to replace it.
So, to guarantee the durability of solar panels, you need to buy them from reputable manufacturers. Companies that rigorously test and retest the product to ensure it can resist extreme seasonal weather conditions.
Nevertheless, you should also confirm the features incorporated in the solar panel to protect its battery lifespan. For example, a solar panel with a passive infrared sensor(PIR) is a sure bet for a long battery lifespan.
Solar street light: Wrapping up
As you can see, we have covered the most fundamental things to keep in mind when you buy solar street lights. So, you can start by evaluating your lighting purposes and look for a perfect type of solar street light according to your preferences.
While window shopping, don’t forget that the monocrystalline type is the best among the available choices of solar panels.
Check if the solar panel has the recommendable LED lights technology, which can generate higher lumens at the lowest energy consumption possible. Once you are set to buy, don’t rush for a large solar panel, they might deceive you.
Evaluate the power rating instead, and of course, don’t forget to confirm the battery capacity for energy storage .
Finally, make sure to buy solar street lights that guarantee durability to make sure they will have a long lifespan.