The case for solar-powered LED lighting

The outdoor lighting industry, like many other application-oriented industries, assumes that the power source is infinite and always available. This is a tribute to the reliability of the electrical grid, at least in the nations of the developed world. It certainly made life easier for lamp / lighting designers who, for the most part, can separate the characteristics of the lamp from the power supply. The developed world is beginning to learn that the source of energy is far from infinite.

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Some companies are not waiting to see the bottom of the barrel and are exploring alternatives ranging from substitute energy sources to reducing energy demand. Several companies are developing technologies that achieve both: SolarOne Solutions’ work in solar powered solid state lighting under the SOLED ™ brand is one example.

[* Estimates indicate that at current levels of energy consumption, the earth has about 150 years of energy stored in the form of oil, coal, and uranium. However, if the entire population of the earth has consumed as much as Americans on a per capita basis, that amount drops to 15 or 20 years.]

Solar powered lighting

In fact, solar electric lighting systems connect to a truly “infinite” source of energy: the sun. However, as we all know, this source is intermittent. In the case of outdoor solar lighting, the power supply is inversely proportional to the load (the lights turn on when the sun goes down). This relationship leads to an important conclusion; the system must rely on energy storage (eg batteries), unless it remains connected to the grid.
the same period every year (see figure 2). Historically, the solar industry has faced the worst case scenario as it sought out the most efficient lumens per watt DC lamps and oversized the system for the remainder of the year. This has resulted in DC fluorescent bulbs, larger solar panels, more batteries, higher costs, and a less conspicuous appearance.

This approach limited the solar lighting market to the areas closest to the equator with the highest average levels of solar irradiance and temperatures that did not affect the performance and lifespan of DC fluorescent bulbs. It has also left markets in higher latitudes, typically with higher per capita wealth levels and greater lighting needs that are quite insufficient.
Thanks to the design and programming of microprocessors and strong relationships with leading manufacturers of key components, the company has seen its role in integrating the components into useful products and developing the brain that manages their operation more economically. . At this year’s LightFair International, SolarOne announced the first implementation of such a system in a combination of lamp, controller and system manager called SOLED ™ mc2 Technology. With the proverbial umbilical cord of the electrical consumer cut off, the mc2 technology seeks to create a more symbiotic relationship between the lighting load, the solar cells, the battery and the user. While the use of high-efficiency components and circuit designs is a vital aspect of technology, achieving the highest level of resource utilization is central to the mc2 philosophy. This is where LEDs make a huge contribution.

1. More effective lighting

Fluorescents, while providing a cool color temperature at a very efficient lumen per watt (lm / W basis, still have fundamental shortcomings. In addition to their inherent mass and brittleness, fluorescents project light poorly, in all directions around and nearly 180 degrees in the plane of the lamp. Therefore, its utilization (the amount of usable light projected) is less than technical efficiency calculations suggest. A reflector can redirect light around the lamp down, but there is In addition, because the fluorescent lamp is controlled to direct the light downward for ambient lighting, approximately 30% or more of the light is lost. For more challenging lighting, when more control is required Higher, the loss of fluorescence is approximately 50%.

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