It is now more than a century since the discovery of the photovoltaic effect. The solar lighting industry has evolved to now offer alternative power supply to streetlights. This technology is viable right now when there is a high demand for clean, green energy. For starters, solar photovoltaic street lighting systems with Intelligence control require working Solar panel modules, Charge Controller Units (CCUs), rechargeable batteries, replaceable lighting fixtures, poles for support, and a bit of programming to provide the automation of operations.
Basic Operations and Stages
The process of solar photovoltaic street lighting systems has two parts. The first part converts sunlight into electricity and then stores it. For this to happen, you will require solar panels to convert solar energy into electricity and then store it in the battery in the form of chemical energy. The solar module produces a suitable current and voltage to charge the battery. The primary purpose of the first stage is to harvest solar energy and store it for future use.
The solar panel connects to the battery through a controller device, which regulates the charging and discharging of the battery. As the PV cells get exposed to sunlight, the batteries charge themselves continuously until it reaches the maximum limit. The stored power is useful as and when needed by the system. For optimum performance, you should install your solar street light unit in an area free from shading, where the direct sunlight gets to land on the surface of the photovoltaic cells.
The second part takes place at night. Here, the battery converts the chemical energy back to electricity, which is used to light up the lamp. The principal reason for this stage is to provide the required wattage to illuminate a specific area for a set period.
The modern lighting systems the power transmission is usually wireless. The new designs come with integrated street light components, which eliminate the need for wiring. The need for aesthetic appeal and fast installation has brought about different shapes and styles in the design of solar streetlight systems.
An Introduction to Intelligence Control
Advanced solar photovoltaic street lighting systems come with intelligence controls. In the marketplace, they are either called smart or intelligent units. They are known to make some necessary adjustments on their own, without any human intervention. Most of them are standalone off-grid or centralized systems, which are ideal for use in remote areas.
The use of an automated switch and photoreceptors makes a solar street light sensitive to the intensity of the sunlight. The photoreceptor will only kick in to switch on the lights when it deciphers low Sunlight at dusk or when the sky becomes overcast with clouds.
Street lighting using Intelligent control systems helps to reduce the power consumption by dimming the lights and eliminating human error present when switching off the unit. The idea behind the use of smart solar streetlights is that there is a lot of wastage of power when the system is in full mode when there is minimal activity or traffic in the streets.
Therefore, solar photovoltaic street lighting systems with Intelligence control will adjust the luminosity level to match the changes in the surrounding environment. The difference can be in the form of natural ambiance or people or vehicle activity.
Besides automatic switching, intelligence control can reduce the brightness of the lighting source when activity is detected. In the market, it is called the dimming feature. For this to happen, you will need a motion-sensing circuit and a little bit of programming.
Battery Charge Levels
Also, the control can be in the form of monitoring the status of the battery and limiting the charging and discharging activities. This type of motion-sensing ensures that the battery has a longer lifetime when in use.
During deep discharge conditions, the intelligent control of a solar street light, working with the Charge Controller Unit (CCU), will disconnect the light source when the level of energy in the battery reaches a low critical level. On the other hand, during overcharge conditions, the control devices will automatically disconnect the solar panels from the battery at the maximum charge limit.
Motion or Activity Detection
If we wish an intelligence control based on motion detection, then the Passive Infrared (PIR) sensor is often used in the system model. On the other hand, if you wish to use the natural ambiance or incident light intensity to control the lights, then you will need a Light Dependent Resistor (LDR) or a photoresistor in your circuitry. Therefore, the use of sensor technology plays a significant role in the intelligence of a solar street light system.
The sensor technology works together with the PIC (Programmable Interface Controllers) microcontrollers to work as timers. In some systems, the Controller Unit comprises of a combination of the PIC and the PIR, which connects to the circuit board that directly links to the LDR.
The circuit board is the final stage of system control. The circuitry in these types of solar systems may have similar components, but the design is different depending on the level of intelligence. The current input will determine the lighting level, low, medium, or high. When combined with the use of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps, the solar-powered street light yields more cost and energy savings.
Solar Photovoltaic Street Lighting Systems: Conclusion
Solar photovoltaic street lighting systems with Intelligence control are suitable for Large scale projects. They use cost-effective schemes to reduce energy consumption, hence ideal for public lighting where there is a shortage of electricity and poor insolation.
The advantages of using solar photovoltaic street lighting systems with Intelligence control are many. They are the ideal solutions to use for outdoor lighting. An intelligent system will give you more hours of operation at night, especially when there is no sufficient sunlight to charge the battery. The additional cost of this unit over the lifetime of the systems can be easily justified by the long-term savings and lifespan of the components.
You may also want to check out DIY Small Solar Street Light.