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All-In-One Solar Street Lights: Are They Worth It?

Beyond solar power generators (a.k.a solar power systems), solar street lights are the second most important means to utilize solar energy. Since their adoption a few decades ago, solar street lights have experienced constant evolution and have now come to the fourth generation.

This article will explain the composition of all-in-one solar street lights and their pros and cons via comparison with previous street light versions. We will also introduce the latest optional innovative features that can enable more robust real-world applications of the lights. 

Let's dive in!

All-In-One Solar Street Light Under Blue Sky

What is an all-in-one solar street light?

Understanding the evolution of solar street lights is crucial to illustrate the current all-in-one generation. Before the launch of all-in-one solar street lights, there were primarily two generations or types of street lights:

  • Split Solar Street Lights
  • All-in-Two Solar Street Lights

In a split solar street light, all components, including light fixture, solar panel and battery, are separately fixed to the light pole. For some obsolete products, their batteries are buried underground. Unlike the chunky size of lead-acid batteries, many modern batteries, such as lithium-ion and LiFePO4, have a compact size with higher capacity, making merging the solar panel and battery storage into one for a more elegant look possible, referring to the all-in-two solar street light!

Now you probably know what an all-in-one solar street light is! All components are packed into one single structure and installed on top of the light pole, with a variety of improved features equipped.

You may be wondering what the fourth-gen light mentioned initially is?! No hurries; we will explain in a later section.

NOTE
Split and all-in-two solar street lights are still in use in some applications nowadays. But they will be weeded out naturally, attributing to their poor performance and higher maintenance costs, though with a lower initial investment.

Reviewing the components used in all-in-one street lights today

Standard all-in-one lights have the same components as their previous counterparts but utilize more advanced technologies.

Solar Panel

You may already know monocrystalline solar panels have higher efficiency than polycrystalline panels. But have you heard of PERC, HJT, IBC or bi-facial mono solar panels? These terms represent the superior panel manufacturing techniques that lift up the efficiency of solar panels to the next level. They enable a higher energy yield from the panel with the same dimension, which satisfies powering a high-power light or shortens the time to charge the battery.

Battery Storage

The street lighting system partially makes up the aesthetics of modern transport infrastructure, calling for batteries in smaller sizes or a hidden design. Most solar-powered all-in-one lights use lithium-ion and LiFePO4 batteries as their storage module. They are compact enough and able to be packed with other components together within a housing. Most importantly, these batteries dispense a competitive combination of capacity, depth of discharge (DoD), round-trip efficiency, safety and environmental impacts as well as lifespan, leading to more reliable performance and lower maintenance costs in the long term.

Smart MPPT Charge Controller

A smart MPPT charge controller is an optimizer to strengthen the functionality of both the panel and battery. It maximizes the power gets from the panel by tracking the maximum power point (Pm) of the I-V curve, delivering the maximum possible amount of power from the panel to the battery.

Lighting Module

Most street lights today have switched to the use of LED lighting sources. They're much more efficient than traditional fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, achieving a high lumen output per watt. Paired with an upgraded lighting lens, they generate higher brightness with broader light distribution under the same amount of power consumed. In turn, this merit offers more room for the flexible applications of all-in-one lights. 

Until now, we can see all the innovations in these three primary components lay the foundation for the launch of all-in-one solar street lights. Combined with the optional state-of-the-art features discussed below, these all-in-one lights are competent for a higher street light market share, well aligned with the development of a greener and smarter transport system and city.

Other superior features

Die-casting aluminum alloy housing

Premium materials and CNC-aided manufacturing techniques create more durable and precise housing for the light. These die-casting aluminum alloy housings are lightweight, durable and excellent in corrosion resistance and heat dissipation, offering many benefits as below:

  1. Convenient for transportation and installation, narrowing down relevant costs meanwhile.
  2. Well protect the components from damage under different environmental conditions.
  3. Extend the lifespans of any electronic devices inside.

Multi-angle rotation for the entire light and lighting module

Both the entire structure (except for the pole) and the individual lighting module of all-in-one LED lights can be rotated to a wide range of angles thanks to the overall compact design and higher efficiency of the lighting modules, which further broadens the application cases of all-in-one solar street lights.

Project developers can satisfy their project needs by purchasing one or two product series in bulk at a lower price since the multi-angle rotation feature gives them higher project applicability; installers can flexibly pair the structure's angle with a particular angle of its lighting module to reach an ideal lighting area on the road; operation crew can handily adjust the angles for optimal light absorption as per the sunlight's changes in different seasons, to name a few.

Fourth-gen all-in-one solar LED street lights: Upgraded version for integrated, intelligent applications

Remote monitoring, intelligent operations, smart city, etc., are some fancy terms associated with modern transportation that largely emerged as concepts in the past.

Today, all-in-one solar street lights are acting as an integration platform to realize the vision. The "all-in-one" concept gets pushed to a broader viewpoint.

All-In-One Solar Street Lights and Smart Transportation

Smart grid-tied application

Why do solar street lights need to be grid-tied?! You would ask. 

Behind the grid-tied application is a smart mechanism somewhat like the net metering that allows street lights to draw energy from the grid to complement their operation in case of extreme weather or malfunctions, ensuring uninterrupted lighting for transportation. In turn, these solar street lights also function as a distributed solar plant that can feed the grid if there is excess electricity, guaranteed by the high capacity of the panels and batteries and accurate computing by the center controller.

IoT, big data and AI backed operations

The all-in-one design of the solar street lights leaves more room for integration with different sensors to collect data surrounding traffic flow, weather, air quality, ambient and electronic device temperatures, lighting conditions, etc., for deeper analyses to support remote, precise and intelligent management. These integrations ultimately deliver optimal lighting for varying weather and traffic circumstances, better optimize energy use, lower maintenance costs, prolong the lifespan of devices as well as provide strong support for other public sectors.

A multimedia platform for city management

Additionally, messaging and video monitoring systems can be merged into the all-in-one solar street light platforms, contributing to sophisticated urban governance. This helps bring citizens and the government closer together and shape a more harmonious society.

Find Words: Are all-in-one solar street lights worth it?

It must acknowledge that all the advanced applications of all-in-one solar lights are essentially built upon a more reliable power source. But it can be positive that with improvements in efficiency and capacity plus revolutionary practices such as connecting to a centralized solar station, these fourth-gen or more innovative applications will become more common.

At least for now, all-in-one solar street lights have combined all the latest mature technologies in associated industries and can convey many practical benefits and yield a high ROI. They are the choice for this era and the platform for vision.

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