Before You Start: Project Information

In many ways, planning a solar lighting project is similar to planning any other outdoor lighting project.  You will want to select luminaires, design a layout that meets lighting criteria, and specify luminaire performance.  Supplying your lights with solar power introduces some new considerations as well.
Before you start this process, it is worthwhile to get a good idea of site conditions and the objectives of the project.

Light Levels

Target a standard not luminaire wattage

For many reasons, LED luminaires allow you to use less energy than conventional HID systems.  All of the light is directed toward the target surface and the light can be directed evenly around the pole to achieve uniform coverage. 


Since the optics and efficacy of LED luminaires differ, SolarOne recommends that you start with the light level you would like to achieve on the ground.  We can then help you strike the best balance between higher cost systems with greater spacing and lower cost systems with less output. 


This approach will do a better job of achieving quality lighting than specifying a specific wattage or equivalency.  Neither approach will give you the same result with different vendors.


If you need assistance with a target light level, SolarOne can make recommendations based on IESNA guidelines.


Identify areas with limited or no sun

Trees, buildings, and other elevations cause shading. Because the sun’s position changes over the course of the year, shading for a project site will change over the course of the year. Note that an excellent location in the summer may be very shaded when the sun is low in the sky (winter).  SolarOne can provide assistance with shading analysis, but a good rule of thumb is that the panel should be un-shaded between the hours of 10AM to 2PM throughout the year.


 If you do have a shading issue, SolarOne can offer suggestions on how to over-come it.  Remember that addressing shade before you specify and install systems is much easier and less expensive than trying to “fix” systems after the fact.


Lighting Profiles - Consider dual light levels or limited hours of lighting

If you’ve flown across the country late at night, you’ve probably seen acres of brightly lit, completely empty parking lots.  Instead of wasting energy when lighting isn’t required, more facilities are using lighting profiles that provide lighting when it is needed and either dim or turn off lights when the facilities are not in use. 


In many cases, you can use motion sensors to brighten lights when pedestrians are in the area.  Using dual level will reduce the amount of energy required and save money on your solar lighting system.

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Being clear on your goals will save time

Your priorities will help us to identify the best solution for your project.



The biggest financial driver for installing solar lighting is avoided infrastructure installation.  Avoided conduit/trenching/wiring, switchgear and site disruption will contribute to your saving.  Within practical pole heights and system sizing, maximizing spacing will maximize your savings.  You will not gain much by retrofitting lights supported by healthy, existing infrastructure. 


Leading by Example

If the purpose of your lighting is to make a statement, you may consider using a more decorative solar lighting system, offered by our SO-Bright® Partners.  You can also add optional banners to support your sustainable message.


Right of Way – Environmental Issues

Solar lighting is a great way to avoid trenching through wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.  It also minimizes soil remediation in contaminated areas.  Consider solar lighting for areas under power lines, over water district easements and near sensitive landscaping.  SolarOne can configure lighting to meet with strict pole height and light spill restrictions.


Emergency Planning – Community Resilience

Power outages, often prompted by storms, make travel within affected areas dangerous.  Although you can use generators to provide lighting at rally points and parking lots for emergency services, solar lighting can reduce the load on the generators, making them more available for communications and other activities.


In flood prone areas, you will want to consider lighting systems with enclosure mounted near the top of the pole such as the E-Series our new PVE-Enclosure.  Grid tied lights can be damaged by flooding, causing delays in reactivating the lights and costly repairs.

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