Posted on 7/11/2014 11:15 AM by Matt Ellenberger

What if you could power your parking lot lights with the sun?

While the number of solar installations is increasing, renewable energy isn’t always convenient or affordable for commercial properties. While solar energy is often cheaper than alternatives in the long term, the upfront costs can be significant enough to make building owners question whether they are willing to wait for a lengthy payback. This is particularly true of outdoor lighting systems. 

Grid-tied exterior lighting is often a costly and awkward solution. Required trenching and wiring may necessitate tearing up existing paving for parking lots and sidewalks. It could also negatively affect woodlands or mature landscaping, such as in the case of parks, trails, or campus situations. As outdoor lighting is sometimes needed at some distance from the closest electrical line, the cost of extending wiring from the nearest grid connection can also be prohibitive. 

It is in cases such as these that solar outdoor lighting truly shines. Because they are powered by the sun, standalone commercial solar outdoor lighting systems eliminate wiring, trenching, and other installation costs associated with grid-tied lights.

Solar lighting can be installed in parking lots, environmentally sensitive areas, and locations far removed from the existing electrical connections or where no grid infrastructure exists. And because the costs of trenching and wiring are avoided, solar lighting is often the cheapest solution from day one. Avoided electricity costs will help facility managers keep their utility bills in check.

These environmental benefits can help burnish a building owner’s green credentials and serve as a selling point for attracting and retaining tenants. Solar lighting can also help buildings or retrofits qualify for LEED points.

Yet another advantage of solar lighting is that it is not subject to brownouts or blackouts caused by extreme weather events such as hurricanes. They are also immune to the stresses of the electrical grid. Due to their sophisticated battery technology, the lighting systems can continue to shine for five days without a single ray of sunshine.

There are many reasons to pursue solar outdoor lighting. The day-to-day savings on electricity costs and the environmental benefits make it a compelling option, but the savings on installation-related costs make it a “can’t miss” in certain situations.

Matt Ellenberger is vice president of sales and marketing for Sol Inc.