Back in 2010, the Barrio Centro neighborhood located in Tucson, Arizona had very little outdoor lighting. The neighborhood association wanted to increase their resident’s safety and security by installing street lighting. After receiving a grant to install outdoor lighting, project organizers quickly realized that with their limited funds they would only be able to light a small section of the neighborhood because of the area’s outdated infrastructure. They also found that it was both difficult and expensive to install the additional electrical wiring to connect to the grid for traditional street lighting. Finally, some of the home owners on the streets where the lighting was going to be installed were worried the area would be too bright at night and were against the proposed change.
One of the main lobbying forces for solar lighting over traditional street lighting was German Quiroga, a resident of the neighborhood who had been actively campaigning for the installation of street lights since he moved to Barrio Centro in 1979. He lobbied the Department of Transportation for permission to install solar lights instead of traditional street lights because they provided an off-grid solution to the problem and would ultimately cost the neighborhood less. Eventually, Quiroga and other proponents of solar lighting won their case and it was decided that the neighborhood would go with solar-powered street lights for their enterprise because the off-grid alternative avoided installing electrical wiring, also saving them time and money. This way they could light more streets for less cost.
Another crucial reason behind their decision was the fact that SolarOne’s product comes with a ten-year warranty on the Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery and it met their required light level standards. In the past, Quiroga mentioned it had been hard to sell the idea of solar lighting because the cost of replacing the battery was so high. With a ten-year warranty on the battery, it was easy to convince the department of transportation that solar lighting was the best way to go.
Furthermore, SolarOne’s motion sensor technology allowed for the lights to dim when no activity was going on which not only conserved energy but also worked to get the home owners who were still against the street lighting project, on board with the reassurance that the lights wouldn’t be too bright during the nighttime.
Lastly, because the Tucson area had been having trouble with vandals breaking into street lights and stealing the copper wiring, SolarOne’s vandal resistant technology was especially appealing.
By the end of the Barrio Centro project, project organizers were able to get lights on all of the neighborhood’s eight main streets and stay within their budget. The residents of Barrio Centro found that not only did it make more economical sense to use solar lights rather than traditional, it also made more sense ecologically with the lights producing zero carbon emissions. Outdoor lighting has since increased the neighborhoods safety and walkability after dark. It has also made outdoor spaces more available for recreational activities.
Since its first solar lighting installation, the city of Tucson has instituted SolarOne’s lighting in eight different neighborhoods – a total of 266 systems! Despite the extremely hot weather, the lights installed in the Barrio Centro neighborhood are still running on the same battery today as they were when they were installed seven years ago - proving their weather tolerance and resilence!