Solar Photovoltaic/LED Dark-Sky Compliant Entrance Lighting

Continuing our theme of highlights for 2009, the most interesting project was our solar photovoltaic lighting installation¬†for the Village of Genesee. We had received a request from the Villages’s property management firm to provide lighting at two entrances – one with power and one without power. The site without power therefore would require the installation of an off-grid solar photovoltaic lighting system.

Site without Power

Both sites required that the fixtures be dark-sky compliant; i.e., the fixtures must point downward so as to not discharge any light into the night sky. In addition, both installations had to withstand the extra wear and tear of heavy snowstorms, the excessive mountain winds, and last but not least, the large herd of elk.

What made this installation feasible was the introduction of the next generation LED (light emitting diode) fixture that draws only 3.7 watts. Our manufacturing partner is now providing us with very high-quality LED lighting fixtures with excellent color and lighting effect. By changing the lens optics, we could vary the lighting effect to create just the right lighting for the monument signage. A photo taken during the actual evening demonstration is shown below.

Evening LED Demo

On the solar photovoltaic (PV) side, the technology in terms of cost and quality has also improved significantly over the last few years. Coupled with the advances of the LED lighting technology, a high quality, long lasting solar PV/LED installation was now a reality.

A 20W solar PV panel was installed along with a solar gel battery that would provide at least five days of stored power for the system – enough to outlast long periods of clouds and snow during the winter months.

The battery, the controller (the brains of the system), and the lighting surge suppression system were installed in the aluminum equipment bay which was itself installed at the top of a structural aluminum pole. A photo of the completed installation is shown below.

Completed Installation with Solar PV Mast in Background

Interestingly, the solar PV panel has been blocked by snow only once this season. Prior to last Halloween, the foothills received 37-inches of snow and the HOA president had to brush off the panel with a broom with an extension handle.

In addition, the LED lighting installation at the second site that already had power was completed – and that installation is shown below. For this installation, two box floods each having 35-watt high pressure sodium bulbs were replaced by the two 3.7-watt LED lighting fixtures. The monthly electric bill for the HOA at this entrance dropped from $80.00 to $11.00!

LED Lighting Installation with Power

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