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How to Choose Solar Parking lot Lights, solar courtyard light

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Author : Green Tech Lighting
Update time : 2021-03-27 22:17:48
  1. Solar Parking lot Light Overview
What is a solar parking lot light?
A solar parking lot light is one type of light source that is fully powered by solar energy. It’s consist of the LED parking lot light, solar panel, battery, controller, and another component. The solar panel collects energy to charge a rechargeable battery during the day, then the battery provides energy to the fixture during the night. They come in a large variety of shapes and sizes with optional features such as motion sensors and remote controls.
Why should we use solar parking lot lights?
As we know, climate change is today’s biggest threat to the world’s safety and the health of our economies. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions we generate—are the leading cause of the earth’s rapidly changing climate. The burning of fuels like coal, oil, and gas for electricity, heat, and transportation is the primary source of greenhouse gas. There is a strain on fuels such as oil, gas, and coal due to overconsumption, which called the energy crisis. Using clean, renewable energy like solar energy is one of the most important actions to solve climate change and the energy crisis issues, to reduce the impact on the environment. Thus, the solar parking lot light market is growing rapidly.
Types of solar parking lot light
There are three main types of solar parking lot lights in the markets: General solar parking lot light, two in one solar parking lot light, and all in one solar parking lot light.
General solar parking lot light: LED parking lot light, solar panel, and battery are installed separated. Usually, the capacity of the battery is large and with more backup days. The power of LED parking lot lights is larger than another two types. This one is better for roadway, parking lot, or any public outdoor area.
Two in one solar parking lot light: Battery and controller installed within the LED parking lot light, the solar panel is separated.
All in one solar parking lot light: Solar panel on the housing of LED parking lot light, battery and controller installed within the LED parking lot light. It with low power but easy to install, suitable for the area doesn’t require bright light, like your backyard.
Advantages of solar parking lot lights
ECO-friendly: Using solar parking lot light could reduce the emission of carbon dioxide
Cost-effective: Solar parking lot light uses sunlight as the source of their energy. You will be saved from paying money to the electricity provider every month. It’s a wise long-time investment.
Require very little maintenance: Solar panels last over 20 years. Apart from cleaning and doing a few check-ups, there isn’t much to do to ensure its longevity. It’s will help you save a lot of maintenance costs.
Easy to install: It does not require wiring to a faraway power station. You can put it anywhere you need to light up. Hassle-free operation according to instruction.
Safe: Direct current(DC) electricity is what solar panels produce and hold in a battery, compare with alternating current(AC) electricity, DC is safer for human.
  1. Components of Solar Parking lot Light
Solar Panels: The solar panel is one of the most important parts of a solar parking lot light, solar panel collects energy during the day, convert solar energy into electric energy that the light can use. There are two types of solar panels commonly used in solar parking lot lights: mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline. The conversion rate of mono-crystalline solar panels is much higher than their polycrystalline counterparts.
LED parking lot light: LED features energy-saving, the energy consumption of an LED fixture is at least 50% lower than the HPS fixture, LED fixtures are also less prone to failures with an average number of 50,000 working hours, whereas traditional parking lot lights range from 5,000 to 8,000 working hours with the much higher failure rate. So LED parking lot lights used as the primary light source of solar parking lot lights.
Rechargeable Battery: Battery is used to store the electric energy from the solar panel during the day, and provide energy for the LED parking lot light at the night. The capacity of the battery affects the backup days of the lights, and the life cycle of the battery is important to the lifespan of the light. Gel cell deep cycle batteries, lead-acid batteries, and absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries are three types of batteries commonly used in solar power lights. Lithium-ion batteries are also popular nowadays, as they are compact in size, have a higher energy density, voltage capacity, and lower self-discharge rate.
Solar charge controller: Controller is the brain of the solar parking lot light. It’s a regulator, solar charge controller decides when to turn on or off the lighting, and when to charge the battery. When the battery is nearly full, the controller will taper off the charging current to maintain the required voltage to fully charge the battery and keep it topped off, it protects the battery from both overcharging and undercharging. There are mainly two types of solar charge controller:pulse-width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracking (MPPT).
Sensor: Using sensors are one of the best ways to lower the power needs of solar parking lot light. There are some types of sensors, such as dusk to dawn sensor, motion sensor, and so on.
Pole: For every solar parking lot light, a strong pole is essential. The solar panel, battery, LED light, and such all heavy components are mounted on top of it, and it should bear hurricanes in some areas. The pole should rust-resistant and durable enough to support long lifespan LED parking lot light and solar panel.
Interconnection cables: The solar panel, LED lights, solar charge controller, and battery are interconnected with cables. Cable size and lengths depend on the current that goes in the lights and the height of the pole.
The function of solar parking lot light depends on the quantity of above each component, the technology used in the system, and the management of lights. Choosing the right solar parking lot light is not an easy task, we have to know the system design and so many technical specifications. You need a professional and reliable supplier, which could design and choose a suitable component according to your requirement. Below are guides on how to choose components for the solar parking lot lights.
  1. How to Choose Solar Panel
The price of solar technologies has dropped an incredible amount in recent years, more than 80% since 2010. Making solar panels more affordable than they’ve ever been. There are more and more applications based on the solar system. Solar light is one popular application because the LED light source can use direct current(DC) electricity, no need to invest in an inverter.
Choose a solar panel is not easy. There are some factors we have to consider: Conversion efficiency, conversion speed, temperature co-efficient, PID resistance, durability, watts capacity, size, and so on.
Conversion efficiency
Mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline are two types of solar panels commonly in the market. The conversion rate of mono-crystalline solar panels(about 21% nowadays) is much higher than their poly-crystalline(around 18.5%). So we choose a mono-crystalline solar panel for the solar parking lot lights. The color of the mono-crystalline solar panel is purer, is it’s easy to recognize.
Conversion speed
 The conversion speed depends on nickel wire, the nickel wire grid carries electricity to or from the device, so more nickel wire means more quickly. And the thinner the Nickle wire the better, otherwise, the wires will prevent sunlight from reaching the semiconductor.
Temperature coefficient
The temperature of the solar panels has a direct effect on their ability to generate electricity. This impact is reflected through the temperature coefficient, which is expressed as the percentage decrease in output for every 1-degree Celsius (°C) increase in temperature from 25°C (77°F). Solar panels are tested for their efficiency at 25°C, and that is why this is used as the reference point. The lower the percentage per degree Celsius, the better. The price of a module with low-temperature co-efficiency can be a little more.
PID resistance
Potential Induced Degradation (PID) is an undesirable property of some solar modules, occurs when the module’s voltage potential and leakage current drive ion mobility within the module between the semiconductor material and other elements of the module, triggered by certain climate conditions like humidity and temperature. Good solar panels will display little or no PID.
Solar panels are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions(like extreme temperature, hurricane, hail, frost) to resist dirt and water, guaranteeing at least 20 years of lifetime. It’s required to use top-grade material. But not all manufacturers use good material, here are some tips for you to check with manufacturers.
Type of glass: The glass of the solar panel protects the inside of the module. Low-quality glass may cloud over time and will affect the efficiency of the solar panels. It’s also easy to break cause damage to the module. Tempered is a quality material to use.
Encapsulant: encapsulant is used to bonding and sealing photovoltaic and solar panels, should using UV-resistant material because prolonged UV exposure can cause browning of non-UV encapsulant sealants which reduces light transmittance.
Backsheet: The PV back sheet is on the outermost layer of the PV module. It’s as an electrical insulator, protects the inner components, specifically the photovoltaic cells and electrical components from external stresses. It’s the only layer to protect solar modules from DC voltage. To achieve this, the back sheet should robust and with high dielectric properties. Backsheet failure can result in significant power loss and safety issues ranging from power degradation to bodily harm. Quality back sheets provide voltage protection and maintenance prevention and are equally as important as the glass covering the cells.
Frame: Usually made of aluminum, the frame provides mounting attachment points and protection for the edges of the glass laminate. It’s should be robust enough to withstand any heavy weather or other impacts. Anodized Aluminum is an ideal material as it increases the corrosion-resistance.
Watts Capacity and Size
The watts capacity and size is depending on the power of LED parking lot light. It’s better to buy all components of a solar parking lot light from one manufacture. The manufacturing design and choose the right solar panel for the light source, it’s will help you save time and avoid other issues.
  1. How to Choose LED Parking lot Light
LED parking lot light is the light source of the solar parking lot light, when choosing LED parking lot light, we should consider specification like the efficiency, IP rating, color temperature, luminous efficiency, CRI, and so on. We have to choose suitable LED chips, LED drivers and so on. It’s a complex job. A qualified supplier will do all this for you. For more details, please refer to our article
5.How to Choose Rechargeable Battery for Solar Parking lot Light
There are some kinds of batteries in the market for solar lights: Lead-acid battery, AGM battery, gel cell deep cycle battery, and lithium battery.AGM battery and gel cell deep cycle battery are other types of a lead-acid battery. Let’s see the character of each of them, then we’ll know which one is better for the solar parking lot lights.
Lead-acid battery
Lead-acid batteries have been used for more than 130 years in many applications and they are still the most widely used rechargeable battery for small-medium scale storage applications.
Advantage of lead-acid battery: Low cost; It’s almost fully recyclable; Reliable and tolerant to abuse; it’s available in various shapes and sizes; withstand overcharging; low self-discharge.
The disadvantage of lead-acid battery: Heavy and bulky; not suitable for fast charging; dependence on hazardous and restricted lead, not environmentally friendly; temperatures above 20ºC reduce the lifetime of lead batteries rapidly; limited cycle life, it means short lifetime;
AGM battery
Absorbent glass mat (AGM) battery feature fiberglass mesh between the battery plates which serves to contain the electrolyte and separate the plates has been a market favorite for the past few decades, mainly used in military vehicles as a source of back up power and heavy vehicles such as long-distance trucks.
Advantage of AGM battery: Fast charging, up to 5 times faster charge than with flooded technology; maintenance-free; low self-discharge;spill-proof, because the glass mats holding the electrolyte in place; longer lifespan; durable and could withstand extreme temperature variations.
The disadvantage of AGM battery: Heavy and bulky, low specific energy; high cost; low tolerance to overcharging and high voltages; the capacity has gradual decline.
Gel cell deep cycle battery
The gel cell battery is similar to the AGM battery because the electrolyte is suspended, the difference is AGM battery is a wet cell battery, and the gel cell battery has a silica additive to set up or stiffen electrolyte.
Advantage of gel cell deep cycle battery: Save you from acid leakage and frequent maintenance; corrosion-resistant grids enable long lifespan up to 10 years; low self-discharge; more charge/discharge cycles; last a bit longer in hot weather applications.
The disadvantage of gel cell deep cycle battery: The recharge voltages are lower; sensitive to over-voltage charging; Heavy and bulky, low specific energy.
Lithium battery
Lithium batteries have metallic lithium as an anode. Over the last decade, lithium has been proven to be extremely reliable battery technology. Lithium batteries are widely used in electric cars, cell phones, cameras, laptops, and other mobile devices. Lithium batteries are even used for energy storage in the electrical grid. So it seems like there would be a lot of advantages of lithium batteries over the more traditional types of batteries such as lead-acid batteries.
For solar parking lot lights, the lithium iron phosphate battery (LiFePO4 battery) is commonly used. It’s a type of lithium-ion battery using LiFePO4 as the cathode material, and a graphitic carbon electrode with a metallic backing as the anode
Advantage of lithium iron phosphate battery
Longer life span: Lithium iron phosphate batteries live up to 5000 cycles at 80 percent depth of discharge, without decreasing in performance. Ensure 8-10 years life span. While some lead-acid batteries only have 300 cycles and have just two years of service time.
Maintenance-free: No need for maintenance to extend their life. The battery shows no memory effects. Can be store for a long time due to low self-discharge.
Safe and ECO-friendly: LiFePO4 battery not contain heavy metal and rare earth metals. It’s thermal and chemical stability, which improves battery safety.
Compact size: Compare to a lead-acid battery, the LiFePO4 battery is relatively small and lightweight. Because it offers high power density. About 160Wh/kg-185Wh/kg nowadays.
High efficiency: Fast charging and discharging. Fast charging reduces any downtime and increases efficiency. High discharge pulse currents deliver bursts of power in a short amount of time.
 Summary: After compare lead-acid battery and lithium battery, we’ll know that lithium battery is ideal for the solar parking lot light. Because solar panel, battery, and light fixture all installed on the top of the pole, and have to withstand high wind, it’s require lightweight. The battery should have a high power density for more backup days.
The lead-acid battery may suitable for another solar light due to its low cost but not better for the solar parking lot light.
6.How to Choose a Solar Charge Controller?
The most important solar charge controller is to properly control the charge and discharge, protect battery and solar panel to give them as long a life as possible.
There are two types of solar charge controllers in the market: Pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracking (MPPT)
The PWM is low cost but not as efficient as the MPPT. The MPPT can give you up to 30% more power than PWM, it also allows the strings of panels to be connected in series for higher voltages, keeping the amperage lower and the wire size smaller, especially for long-wire runs to the PV array. 
To choose a suitable solar charge controller, we have to know some information, like The wattage of the solar panel; the voltage of the battery, then we could calculate the amps of the solar controller.
For example 100 watt solar panel/12 volt battery=8.3 amps. Then 10A charge controller is ok for you, if use 200w solar panel and 12v battery, you must go to 20A charge controller.
The solar parking lot light manufacture will choose a suitable charge controller, some controllers build inside the light housing. You could check it with your supplier.
  1. How to Choose Sensor for Solar Parking lot Light?
Since the stored energy in the battery is limited, for more energy-efficient, it requires sensors. There are mainly two kinds of sensors in the market: Dusk to dawn sensor, motion detector(motion sensor) Let’s check their difference and you could choose according to your needs.
Dusk to dawn sensor(Photocells)
Dusk to dawn LED lights turns on and off by the amount of light reaching the light’s sensor, making them suitable for outdoor areas such as yards, parking lots, roadways, parking lots, and other outdoor areas. Its feature uses a small photocell to detect the presence of available and/or existing light. If the light is detected, the motion light will not trigger, so during the day when natural light is enough, the LED lights will not work. When it dark at night, the sensor can’t detect light, it will cause the LED light to work.
Advantage: It’s automatically triggered on and off and low maintenance.
Disadvantage: In the rain season, for solar parking lot light, it’s not the best energy-saving solutions.
Motion detector(motion sensor)
Motion sensors uses one or multiple technologies to detect movement in an area. A motion sensor solar parking lot light automatically activates when a car or pedestrian is been detect in the area. If there is no activity in the area, the solar parking lot light is automatically adjusted to an optimized minimum light level. Thus could save energy for more backup days.
Intelligent solar parking lot light with motion sensor is significant energy savings, light is only provided when it needed. It’s perfect for wet areas.
  1. How to Choose Pole for Solar Parking lot Light?
The pole support all component of a solar parking lot light. It’s should be strong and durable enough. There are mainly two materials for light poles: Stainless steel and aluminum. Each of them has its pros and suitable for different areas.
Stainless steel light pole: Stainless steel is a higher-strength material, suitable for high windy areas to withstand large and heavy loads. Seamless stainless steel pole is durable enough for more than 50 years lifespan. So if the solar light is for a parking lot, a roadway, or in any outdoor area that may have heavy wind like a hurricane, it’s better to use stainless steel.
Aluminum light pole: Aluminum easy machining to different shapes, so ideal to make decorative poles. It’s mainly for yard lights. If you need to put solar parking lot light in your yard, if all the device such as light fixture, battery and solar panel is not heavy, then beautiful aluminum pole is your choice.
  1. Conclusion
We know that use solar parking lot light is a good way to protect the environment. How to choose suitable solar parking lot light is multiple jobs and take time. After our above explanation, wish it’s clear for you and make this job easier. The most important thing is to choose professional manufacture.
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