When you install a traditional commercial light, you don’t often need to be worried about whether it will be “bright” enough or will work continuously because there is an expectation that it will operate as specified. You dig the trench, lay the cable, connect to the public utility, and bam-you has the lighting.
However, a properly sized modern commercial outdoor solar lighting system is a fantastic option if you want to avoid expensive and time-consuming trenching options, and you’d rather not pay any ongoing electricity costs. While solar commercial lights can achieve the same lighting results as traditional lights, there are some specific things you need to evaluate to make sure you get the right results.
Why are these questions being asked?
Avoid overspending by making sure the lighting system uses the right-sized components for your project’s requirements rather than using an unnecessary pricey system to make up for bad design.
Avoid battery changes or automatic shut-offs by installing a system that will be able to meet your long-term lighting needs rather than one that causes the lights to dim, causes the battery to fail too soon, or turns the lights off entirely.
Q1. Ask About The Project Location
Where exactly is the project located?
Try to get precise street addresses and site descriptions whenever feasible. Why? This enables the manufacturer’s designers to take solar insolation information into their system design. Different areas receive different amounts of sunlight each day. For example, a solar light specified for sunny, southern California would be smaller and therefore wouldn’t be able to generate enough power to provide continuous light for New York City. And a solar light specified for New York City would be unnecessarily large for California.
Knowing the project location allows the manufacturers to build and specify their systems for your exact location and to avoid proposing a system that’s too small or too large for your area.
Additionally, a street address enables the evaluation of potential shading risks, such as trees, structures, or other impediments that could shade the solar panel and reduce the efficiency of your system.
Q2. Ask About The Project Application
What kind of area are you trying to illuminate? Is it street lighting or area lighting? Knowing the basic type of street vs. pathway will change the lighting output requirement.
Why? The application may have an impact on the necessary light levels, pole height, and pole spacing. For instance, a street probably needs more light than a park or trail. Here are some possible applications:
Pathway & park
Perimeter & Security entryway
General Public Area
Q3. Ask About The Project Dimensions
What is the length of the street/pathway or the size of the general area (for a parking lot, etc.)?
How much area are you trying to illuminate?
Why? The size or length of the area will affect the number of lighting systems required, and the uniformity of the light hitting the ground, which all factor into the overall project cost.
A PDF or CAD of the installation site will help the designer to realize your project in a more professional way.
Q4. Ask the Project Type
New Installation Projects
Replacement of Failing infrastructure
Q5. Ask About The Pole Details
Will your project require pre-existing poles or new poles?
Is there a specified pole height request? What’s kinds of poles are required? like a single-arm or double-arm pole or without an arm pole.
The height of the pole may affect the number of lighting systems required for the project.
The type of light pole may affect the cost of installation.
Height of typical streetlights: 25 to 30 feet
Height of typical walkway lights: 12 to 20 feet
Typical light pole types:
adjustable cone-shaped poles, Conical poles, octagonal poles, straight pole
If there are frequent typhoons or hurricanes in the area, your customers will also have a certain demand for the wind resistance rating of the light pole.
Q6. Ask About The Installation type
After we know the Road Width, Road lanes, and Road length, we are going to consider which installation type is suitable for our project. There is some common installation type to u check:
Installation pole height and Installation distance ( If it is a new installation project, this condition can be adjusted in the design process）
We will choose whether to lay the lights on one side, on both sides, or to cross the lights, depending on the road conditions.
1. single side installation
2. double side installation
3. double arm middle installation
Q7. Ask About The Required Light Levels And Uniformity
Is there a state/municipal standard for light levels for the project, what are they? What light levels need to be met on the ground (measured by foot candles or lux)? What uniformity requirements are there if known?
Why? Different applications will require different light levels, which plays a large role in determining the overall project cost.
Manufacturers can make a lighting design by Dailux Simulation for your project to make sure the lux and uniformity match your lighting requirement.
Q8. Ask About The Operating Profile
How long does the light need to be on each night, 6hrs or 12hrs even 14hrs? When the light is on, do the light levels need to be met throughout the night at full brightness or just at certain times with dimming mode? If you’re unsure, a good manufacturer should be able to help.
Why? The operating profile is a key aspect of a solar lighting project. Manufacturers will “tune” their systems differently for power management, based on these profiles.
Here are some examples of operating profiles:
1. Dusk to dawn (all-night operation): the light will run at the same light output level all night.
2. Dim in off-peak hours: for example, the light will run at the required light output level for 5 hours after dusk, then dim to 30% of the required light level. 2 hours before dawn, the light levels will return to 100% until sunrise.
3. Off or dimmed at an exact time: for example, the light will run at the required light output level until 11 p.m., then will turn off.
Remember the lighting profile can be customized according to customer request
An important note on dark-sky friendly lighting. Planned dimming operations during periods of low activity (midnight) can reduce overall system costs and make projects more dark-sky friendly.
Q9. Ask About The Backup on rainy days
We all know that solar lighting systems depend on sunlight to work, and if they happen to have continuous rainy days for 5-7 days, or even longer than that, the solar lights may face the risk of going out. This is why we need to consider the local lighting weather conditions when designing solar lamps to configure the right battery size to meet the normal operation of rainy days.
For example, in the UAE, where it rains less than 7 days a year, we only need to consider 1 rainy day battery backup, but in Europe, where it rains continuously, we need to consider 5 rainy day backups. The vast majority of the world considers 3 rainy days.
We calculate the size of the battery configuration based on the nightly operating mode and the rainy day backup time, and the size of the battery is a large part of the cost of the whole system. Longer rainy-day backups mean higher battery configurations and more expensive costs.
Q10. Ask About The Color Temperature
What color of light is required—warmer (3000K) or cooler (6000K)?
Why? Color temperature affects the fixture power output and can factor into the project cost. While the light color temperature may be more of a preference than a requirement, cities are leaning more towards lights with warmer color temperatures as they seem to be better for our health and the environment.
In Summary & 10 Questions to Ask: Review
Let’s review these ten questions to ask about your commercial solar lighting project. To gather the relevant project specifics, ask about the:
1. Project Location
2. Project Application
3. Project Dimensions
4. Project Type
5. Pole Height and Type
6. Installation Type
7. Required Light Levels and Uniformity
8. Operating Profile
9. Back up rainy days
10. Color Temperature
Asking these questions can ensure you’re specified a solar light that will meet your project requirements over the long term at no extra cost. You can also be confident that your lighting system won’t die prematurely or become unnecessarily large and expensive.
There are also some additional questions that you can go over with your clients
1. Do you have any specific aesthetic concerns?
2. Do you already have a budget in mind?
3. Who else is involved in your project, and what role will they play?
Planning out your public lighting project early can save you time and money.
To learn more about typical specifications of solar lighting systems and how they can affect the overall performance and cost, you can consult the HeiSolar team. Write to us at Info@heisolar.com or call us directly at 00 86 185 7665 2791 to get quick communication.