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How to Increase Solar Street Light Autonomy from 5 Days to 365 Days

31 January 2018

How effective can your smart city be?

The smart city concept is centered around making a city as efficient and resource friendly as possible. Unfortunately a smart concept is only as effective as its implementation. It’s not only about installing new and technologically advanced gadgets. It’s about ensuring that they will benefit the city and it's residents.

business documents on office table with smart phone and digital tablet and graph financial with social network diagram and man working in the background.jpeg

In many cases smart solar street lights form the infrastructure of such a system. If this system malfunctions, many features are implicated. How do you optimize your solar outdoor lighting and ensure it’s always functioning?

How important is solar street light autonomy?

Solar off-grid autonomy makes running your city easier. The reason why solar street light makes sense is due to the following facts:

  • It doesn’t draw energy from the city’s power grid t
  • It can easily be maintained remotely, keeping labor and maintenance costs low
  • It will keep on working even in emergencies brought on by bad weather or other disasters

Autonomous functioning allows officials to divert resources, funds and labor to other parts of the city. You don’t want poles’ functioning to be interrupted as it can have detrimental effects across the city.

 Smart solar street lights with its functionalities

Down time of a pole will prevent all activities relating to the infrastructure:

  • Wi-Fi access
  • Gathering of information
  • Distributing of information
  • Supplying light to the area
  • Offering access to emergency services via emergency buttons

What should city officials think about when choosing proper solar street lighting infrastructure in order to ensure it to run smoothly?

Tips to Keep Your Solar Street Lights On

Many experts claim that five days solar street light autonomy is sufficient. This means each pole needs to store five days’ worth of power ( inside batteries). Each solar street light system is built so that it can store power for periods without sunlight. This autonomy means maintenance crew or officials don’t need to make adjustments, do repairs or switch to alternative power sources.

Breakdown of the complete solar street light system with all the components in the system

The most obvious reason recharging will be interrupted is due to the bad weather and lack of sunshine. However, technical problems can also occur. Is it possible to prevent most of problems so that your solar system autonomy extends to 365 days?

Here’s how you do it.

 

Call to action for solar street lights

 

Adhere to Project Requirements

 If you don’t plan adequately before installation, maintenance crews will visit the site more than what is really necessary:

  • Pick the correct size smart solar LED lights for the space it’s used in. Certain lights’ brightness, casing and features are customized for highways. If your light doesn’t perform as expected you’ll get complaints.
  • Research how buildings and foliage influence shade throughout the day. If a battery can’t fully charge before the power gets used again you risk damaging the battery. Alternatively it won’t hold enough power to make it autonomous for a few days.
  • Correct installation will prolong the battery life:
    • Insulation requirements of the product must be kept in mind.
    • Placing the battery underground in a water tight space is wise. There it’s protected from the elements and a consistent temperature can be managed to prevent damage brought on by extreme heat or cold.
    • Determine what size solar panel is required to supply necessary power.
    • Match the different components of the light so they provide what you need:
      • The battery must be large enough to store enough energy
      • The power source—whether it’s a PV system or solar panel—must be adequate
      • The controller must be able to manage all components
      • The LED size—and the Watt it requires—must be determined and matched to other components

When cities get this right they may go an entire year without needing to check or maintain a battery and LED light. Of course, this also depends on whether components are obtained from quality manufacturers.

 

Battery Management

If you don’t have a battery, your autonomy reverts to zero. How do you ensure your battery is looked after?

Each light’s technical specifications are unique and when ideal voltage levels aren’t maintained, the battery can get damaged.

As mentioned above you must install it correctly underground. In an airtight container temperature spikes are kept to a minimum. 

 Solar Battery Placement underground.jpg

 

Battery lifecycles for solar street light.jpg

Remember a battery has a certain number of life cycles you can expect. Eventually it will die. With the help of remote control and smart monitoring it is possible to enhance battery life and prologue it to 10 years. If you would like to know more about how you can do this, check out this blog.

 

Optimal Use of Controllers

How do you manage your battery optimally? Monitoring is necessary, thus opening up the underground space is an impractical option. After all, you want autonomous options, right?

That’s why selecting the right controller is important. In order to do so you’ll have to choose a smart solar controller. 

dashboard showing solar readings with voltages and watts.jpg

A smart solar controller sends data about all components via wireless communication channels. Cloud software is used to support the process. By remotely gauging the status of the LED light, the battery and all other parts you don’t have to visit the pole itself. You can even make adjustments—such as dimming—to benefit battery life during cloudy weather. In addition, temperature compensation is extremely important in order to increase battery life, thus smart controller together with temperature sensors ( attached to the battery) will remotely monitor battery temperature in real time and adjust charging voltage. This way battery always gets proper amount of charging power and we can guarantee performance over long run.

 

Weather Prediction

The last statement touches on an important role player in solar outdoor lighting: Weather dependency. Thanks to weather predictability algorithms in smart technology city officials can further extend battery life and autonomy. When you know what to expect for the next few days you’ll know how to manage power resources.

 Screenshot of the smart solar system control predicting weather in the next days.png

Due to the fact that it can be done remotely your outdoor street light system is still autonomous. Weather prediction service providers use the following to make forecasts:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Solar radiation

The math is simple, as long as we know what we can expect in terms of energy generation in the next 5 to 10 days, we can manage our existing energy levels in terms that we can make it work untill sun is up again. 

If you would like to know more about this topic check out this video where we show in real time how to manage and control solar street lights from your desk.   

Optimizing the Remote Management System

Above we listed many features of the remote management system. While this requires constant management and attention, you still save on maintenance and labor costs since no one has to visit the site.  You’re saving power because you can manage light dimming and other features. In addition, you’re also saving on battery expenses since you’re prolonging battery life.

Is it worth doing it right and using remote management systems correctly? A maintenance cost reduction of 80% and a guarantee of having a full year’s uninterrupted light are more than enough reasons, don’t you think?

CTA for Ebook: Ultimate guide for solar street lights


 

Source: how to install solar LED street lights, solar street light installation procedures, solar powered LED street lights, solar street light installation, the concept of smart city

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Andrej Gjokik

Business development

andrej.gjokikj@lightinus.com+38971368839
Technical Guide for Smart Solar Street Lights