Globally, 359 million lamps are expected to be built by 2026. Consider how much electricity such a large number of streetlights will consume each year. Much more is required to meet the increased demand for power consumption due to the trend of increasing fossil fuel depletion. Fortunately, humans have long been aware of this problem and have begun to embrace renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. As a result, enormous progress has been made.
As a type of renewable energy, solar energy is more accessible, eco-friendly, and non-depletable than wind energy. A common example is solar electricity for street lighting; each light is an autonomous, off-grid solar system.
How do Solar Street Lights Work?
A solar charge controller directs solar panels to collect and convert sunlight throughout the day. The storage battery will be recharged using solar panels. At night, the storage battery powers the LED light source. A DC controller can prevent the storage battery from being harmed by overcharging or undercharging.
Throughout the day, the solar panel, which is a photovoltaic (PV) module built using the PV effects principle, serves as a photocell to gather solar energy and convert it into electrical output, which is then stored in the battery by the MPPT or PWM smart controller. When the nighttime illumination drops and the smart controller senses a predetermined voltage value, the battery charges the LED lighting fixture. Increasing the brightness of the light This technique is reversed during the day.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Street Lighting
Solar street lights, like everything else, have advantages and disadvantages that must be considered.
Solar lights have a number of advantages, including the fact that they are easy to install and do not require grid electricity. However, you should examine if these advantages are substantial enough to justify replacing traditional street lighting with solar-powered lighting.
1. Environmentally and Energy-Efficient
The carbon footprint unquestionably contributes to global warming. Green energy is becoming more popular as a strategy to reduce carbon footprint. To protect our planet, individuals all across the world are working hard to promote environmentally friendly green energy. We only know that nonrenewable energy sources such as coal, natural gas, oil, and others may someday be depleted. Solar street lights run entirely on solar energy and do not require any petrol. Because it is limitless and renewable, solar energy is the ideal option for green lighting.
Solar street lighting is a better option for initial investment and continuing operation and maintenance costs. You won’t have to pay for electricity because solar lights are powered by renewable energy. Because the lights are wireless and not connected to the electrical grid, there are no ongoing costs associated with their installation, such as trench and cable charges.
3. Lower Maintenance Costs
You will not be charged for electricity because each solar street light is powered by solar energy. Because the solar charge controller controls the light intensity, the single solar street light does not need to be replaced. As a result, maintenance is minimal. Furthermore, once the installation is complete, no additional manual labor is required, saving you money on maintenance costs. Furthermore, despite inclement weather or power failures, solar-powered street lights will remain on all night.
4. Simple Installation with Minimal Electricity Requirements
Commercial power illumination projects sometimes necessitate cable work, excavation, cable pipe laying, cable threading within pipes, and ditch rubbish cleanup. All of these procedures need a significant amount of time and effort. Furthermore, the switchboard, distribution cabinet, and transformer are all expensive.
Nonetheless, because each solar lighting system is unique, there is no need for an electrical connection when installing solar street lights. Thus, cable laying, trenching, and other associated operations are free. For the preliminary work, only a strong foundation and a battery pit are necessary. In general, the installation procedure is simple and straightforward.
5. No Cable Theft or Exorbitant Cable Prices
Cable theft is a common problem in remote places, and installing lines and delivering the necessary equipment can be costly.
A solar lighting system eliminates the problems associated with traditional lighting. There will be no cables to steal because each unit will be autonomous and devoid of any cable connections. The robberies of the solar system will not affect any other system component.
6. Dependable and Secure
Traditional streetlights may have hidden safety dangers due to failing components, poor construction, and power supply issues; solar-led streetlights, on the other hand, do not require AC power and hence do not have these drawbacks. The solar-powered LED street lights will have enough power to last at least 25 years.
Solar PV has lately grown in popularity, and solar LED street lights are now often used for residential and commercial lighting applications. However, the usage of solar-powered street lighting is impeded by a number of limitations.
1. Expensive Initial Input Costs
One fundamental drawback is that installing solar street lights is expensive at first. Solar power street lights require a larger initial expenditure than conventional street lights. Installing solar street lights costs three times as much as installing traditional ones. This is the main reason we are hesitant to get solar street lighting.
Considering the power bill, maintenance, and operational expenses incurred in the long run, the actual investment in solar LED street lighting is less expensive.
2. The lifespan of a Rechargeable Battery
To fully charge a normal lead-acid battery, it can take more than a year or even half a year. When charging efficiency falls by 50%, the nighttime lighting situation will surely suffer, especially when it continues to rain. You must select a high-quality LiFePO4 battery with a long life cycle for your solar street light installation.
3. Theft Danger
However, the solar street light has a valuable storage battery and solar panel, which are tempting to robbers. Furthermore, because the solar-powered street lights are not connected to the grid, thieves are not at risk of dying. As a result, theft is more likely than with traditional street lighting systems.
4. Snowy or Sand-covered Weather Reduces the Efficiency of Solar Panels
Extreme weather can have an impact on solar panel performance, especially when dust and snow completely cover horizontal solar panels, reducing their efficiency. The solar panel is frequently installed slanted to allow rain to clear dust. Nonetheless, cleaning the solar panels on a regular basis is recommended to maximize their performance and the lifespan of the solar street light system.
5. Replace the Battery
Lead-acid, gel, and lithium batteries are the three most common types of batteries used in solar street lighting. The upgraded Lithium-Ion battery is more durable than the previous two types. Regardless, any rechargeable battery would gradually drain and need to be replaced numerous times before the lifespan of solar street lighting was reached.
6. Geographic and Meteorological Factors Influence Performance
Because solar energy is produced by the sun, solar radiation fluctuates spatially, and thus, the state of illumination of solar street lights may be altered by the weather.
High-sun radiation places are perfect for solar street lights, but in other areas that are frequently dark or snowy during the winter, solar street lights would perform differently than intended, and their brightness would even fall below the required level for safe driving.