Solar road light is very influential in driving the world’s economy. These are innovative and environmentally friendly devices to lighten our roads, subways, parks, and other outdoor areas.
These lights work on the principle of the photovoltaic effect. The main parts of these lights are; solar panels, batteries, and LED bulbs. These lights use solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, which is then stored in batteries and used to power lights at night.
Electricity produced by these lights is entirely independent of the traditional energy system and provides a sustainable and friendly energy source. These reduce the cost of wiring and eliminate ongoing electricity costs. In addition to environmental and cost-effective benefits, solar road lights also improve the safety and security of people where conventional energy sources are unavailable.
Main components of solar road light
Solar road lights are commonly comprised of three main components:
1. Solar Panel:
The solar panel is the most crucial component of a solar road light. It converts the energy from the sun into electricity, which is used to power LED bulbs. The solar panel used in solar road lights is typically a photovoltaic panel, which uses semiconductor material to convert sunlight into electricity. The size of the solar panel will depend on the consumption of energy.
The battery is used to store the energy produced by the solar panel. It is typically a rechargeable lithium-ion battery known for its high energy density and long lifespan. During low light, the battery stores enough energy to power the LED lights for several days.
3. LED Light:
LED lights are most suitable for solar road lights. They are energy efficient and provide white light, which increases visibility and safety. Additional components like charge controllers and light sensors may also control and optimize the system’s performance.
Factors to consider before installing solar road lights
Before installing solar road lights, one should consider some factors that can directly affect the efficiency of these lights. Some of these factors are;
Site selection is an essential step in designing and installing solar road lights. The chosen location should have specific characteristics to ensure the system functions properly and efficiently.
ii. Light source:
The site should have a high level of solar radiation. It is the most critical factor, as the system relies on sunlight to generate electricity. Sunlight should be able to reach the site without being blocked by obstructions or shading.
The location should be simple to reach for installation and maintenance. Additionally, it must be situated where the lights will be most helpful, like a parking lot, sidewalk, or road.
iv. Weather and climate:
The location should be able to endure the local climate and weather. The system must be built to resist extreme weather conditions, strong winds, and copious amounts of rain.
v. Base conditions:
The chosen location should have stable soil and ground conditions for the lights to establish a secure basis. The soil’s susceptibility should not impact the system’s stability to erosion or movement.
How to install solar road light?
Installing a solar road light generally involves the following steps:
The first step is to prepare the site by clearing the area and leveling the ground. It should ensure that the lights are stable and secure once installed.
Next, a foundation needs to be installed. It typically involves digging a hole and pouring concrete to create a stable base for the light. The foundation should be level and able to withstand the local weather and climate conditions.
Mounting the solar panel:
Mount the solar panel on the top of the foundation. The panel should be angled to face south or north for maximum exposure to the sun.
Connecting the battery and LED light:
Connect the solar panel with the battery and the LED bulbs. The battery stores the electricity generated by the solar panel, and the LED light uses this stored electricity to illuminate the area.
Programming and testing:
Once the system assembles, it should run according to the specific application, such as when to turn on and off the lights. One can also turn on the lights according to the energy requirements. The system should appropriately test to ensure it works correctly and that the lights illuminate the area as intended.
It is essential to regularly maintain the solar road light, such as cleaning the solar panels and checking the battery levels.
Real case studies of implementation of solar road light
In the past decade, many countries have implemented solar road lights to generate electricity from renewable energy. Some of the significant solar projects launched by the USA and others are:
In 2014, the Dutch province of Limburg installed a solar-powered bike path. The path uses solar panels embedded in the road’s surface to generate electricity. The electricity generated is used to power streetlights and traffic signals and charge electric vehicles.
In 2016, the French village installed a one-kilometer-long solar road. The road is covered with 2,800 square meters of solar panels and can generate enough electricity to power the village’s streetlights. The project is being used as a pilot to evaluate solar roads’ feasibility as a renewable energy source.
In December 2018, China opened the world’s first solar-panel highway in Jinan. The road has three layers:
· Insulation on the bottom
· Solar panels in the middle
· A transparent concrete layer on top
The solar panels generate electricity used to power streetlights and charge electric vehicles.
In 2019, Idaho installed solar-powered LED street lights. The lights contain energy-efficient LED bulbs and solar panels that generate solar electricity during the day and store it in batteries for use at night. The city estimates that the lights will save the city $40,000 annually in energy costs.
More coal has been used since 1945 than was used in history before that. So, it is time that the government should focus more on renewable energy than fossil fuels to produce electricity to meet energy demand. As we have studied, many countries have implemented solar road lights, and they are enjoying the unlimited benefits of solar energy. Moreover, you can also read how solar street lights change the course of progress of villages.