Should you retrofit your parking lot lights with a solar lighting systems?
August 25, 2014
Ilze Greene - SolarOne Solutions, Inc.
The most popular customer question we receive is some form of “Should I retrofit my existing AC outdoor lighting with solar?” It really depends on your objectives.
Are you looking payback by avoiding electric bills or are you trying to avoid repairs to your underground electrical and the associated trenching, re-paving, traffic-control, and landscape repair and re-striping?
Alternatively, are you trying to do everything you can to support renewable energy and support a zero-carbon footprint?
If you are looking to avoid infrastructure replacement, solar can be the lowest cost option. With its power center on board, you can forget those underground wires and complete your installation quickly and with little disruption. From a financial point of view, you will avoid a lot of cost and the potential for unpleasant surprises when boring or trenching.
If you are looking for a payback from your electric bill alone, I really can’t recommend a switch to solar. You are bearing the cost of installing one power plant for another and that is costly.
The capital cost of leaving your AC infrastructure in place is essentially zero, while a solar retro-fit will require the purchase of the solar power system, poles (the existing poles are not likely to be rated for the wind-load of the solar panel) and for the installation. In normal circumstances, recovering those costs at a rate of $0.08 - $0.18 per Kilowatt will take a very long time.
Of course, if you want to maximize the use of renewable energy, reduce your carbon footprint, meet energy targets or demonstrate your commitment to the environment, nothing says green like solar lighting!