solar panel maintenance and solar panel repair and how to clean a solar panel

How to Clean Solar Panels: A Brief Guide on Solar Panel Maintenance

solar panel repair and solar panel maintenance and how to clean a solar panel

We would be lying to you if we said equipment lasts forever. We wish it could, but sadly the nature of equipment is that it will eventually fail. Wear, tear, and time effect equipment of all sorts, and sadly nothing is invincible. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t extend the life of something through proper preventative maintenance. That same rule thankfully applies to lighting fixtures of all sorts. If you’re thinking about making the jump to solar-powered lighting, we’ve prepared a must-read for you to understand how to properly do solar panel maintenance so your investments and purchase cycles last longer. Some of the facts about maintenance are actually simpler than you might realize.

The Good News: There isn’t Much Solar Panel Cleaning Required

You’ll be happy to know that your investment doesn’t need much maintenance to begin with! Some of the biggest reasons are because solar panels are self-standing and aren’t connected to each other–unlike Christmas lights, where if one goes out, the rest of them go out too. If you’re mainly concerned with how to clean solar panels, you might think that you’ll need some special cleaning solution or that there’s some cleaning contraption you’ll need to drop a few hundred dollars on to properly clean the panel.

Nope! Solar panel cleaning takes soap and water! We’re happy to stand by a product that does some complex stuff behind the scenes–literally turning light into power–that requires little effort in cleaning. If your solar LED lights are in rain-heavy areas, let mother nature do most of the cleaning for you. If you’re in an arid climate, you might need an occasional de-dusting or heavier cleaning cause of rogue leaves or pesky birds in the area relieving themselves on the panel.  And if dirt just gets caked on for whatever reason, a simple brush with soap will do. Other than that, cleaning is a breeze. You just need to reach the panel and light. We’ll leave that task up to you. It’s best to clean when the panels aren’t in direct light or heat so water doesn’t evaporate quickly.

Snow, Rain, Wind–an Unkind Mother Nature

Weather isn’t your best friend when it comes to proper solar panel maintenance. A thin layer of snow on the panels can spell doom to the energy stored for the lights. We’re here to give you a few tips on how to properly combat weather so it doesn’t combat your solar investment.

In regards to snow, climbing a ladder nearby and using a brush should do the trick. If you’re not able to climb, throw a light-impact ball towards the panel and that should jar the panel enough to knock snow loose. As far as wind, rest assured that the poles the solar lights are constructed with are rated for high winds–we don’t make our poles out of some flimsy aluminum. Worry not about wind. And the glass over the panel shields the panel from pelting rain. Rain actually cleans the panel off anyhow, so nature sometimes hands you a favor when dark clouds come rolling in.

Solar Panel Repair: When Things Go Bad

As before, sometimes technology goes bad–it’s just Murphy’s Law. Solar panel repair is necessary at times, but it’s important to know that there are warranties that are offered for panels. Instead of diving into unknown territory with repair, check with your supplier to ensure everything is still under warranty.

Greenshine New Energy has 10-year warranties on our panels integrated into our lighting kits, so even if your favorite band goes out of style within the next decade, we’ll be there to help you out. Contact us for more information about going solar.

lead acid gel battery charging

5 Comparisons of Batteries for Use in Your Outdoor Solar Lights

lead acid gel battery charging

One aspect of switching to solar lighting that’s always of unease for new solar adopters is the type of battery used to power the light. Many of our customers want to get specific benefits out of the battery while prolonging the battery life and remaining “green friendly.” There’s also questions of maintenance required, physical battery profile, average charging cycles, and overall cost per watt. Some of the tech jargon can get a little confusing, but it’s important to remember all batteries are not created equal. Here’s some information below which goes into detail why Greenshine uses some batteries for outdoor solar lights over others. We’ve saved the best for last.

NiCd Not a Prime Choice for Solar Lights

NiCd (Nickel Cadmium) batteries are likely one of the worst battery choices on the market for use in solar lights. There’s debate in the “battery community” about what’s called the “memory effect” with NiCd–these kinds of batteries are meant to be charged fully and depleted fully. That isn’t what happens often with batteries meant for outdoor solar lights, where there’s a constant charge-discharge with the cycles of day and night. The memory effect alters the battery’s voltage levels to shrink over time, where the battery “forgets” the highs and lows it doesn’t often charge to. Plus, cadmium is a highly toxic metal which defeats one of the purposes of solar lights–to reduce the environmental impact that the use of energy may have. We know most project managers just prefer something that saves money over time, but why not go both routes?

NiMH Closer, but Still No Cigar

NiMH (Nickel Metal-Hydride) technology is a better choice over NiCd batteries when it comes to the environment, but there are still some pain points with this selection. A NiMH battery still requires a full discharge from time to time, which isn’t friendly to maintenance requirements–we’re sure someone doesn’t want to get the task of discharging every battery in a parking lot light configuration. Plus, these batteries tend to generate heat! Not a side-effect desired in the middle of a park on a hot summer day. Skip NiMH for better solutions.

You Might Think Li-Ion Batteries are Best, But…

Think again. Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) batteries, most commonly found in small electronics like cell phones, are actually more dangerous for applications like outdoor solar lights because they need a protection circuit. We doubt park management would desire large hazards to power their public lights. Plus, the battery size required for solar light applications aren’t wallet-friendly! They’re costly to manufacture, which defeats the purpose of solar–not much of a point to switching to inexpensive solar if the battery is expensive.

How Does Lithium Polymer Fare?

Lithium Polymer batteries are best used in small electronics like their Li-Ion brethren. They’re often mass-produced for cost and are advantageous in small spaces, like the back of a cell phone. However, they have low energy density and a decreased cycle count, prompting more purchases over time. Plus, with a steep price tag for manufacturing, the cost over time to replace batteries doesn’t justify their use for solar.

And a Lead Acid Deep Cycle Gel Battery?

Last on our list, the lead acid battery is actually best for solar! Here’s why: they’re incredibly cheap for their cost-per-watt hours which reduces the price for solar power significantly. Lead acid is a well-understood, reliable technology that requires very low maintenance. Plus, it has a very low self-discharge rate and it works best with partial discharges, not full ones.

We’ve done the research and know the best batteries for the job–a lead acid gel battery charging is best out of all these batteries for outdoor solar lights. It’s cost-effective, doesn’t require much maintenance, doesn’t need a discharge, and almost has a set-it-and-forget-it technology. It’s just a part of why Greenshine New Energy is proud to be a leader in solar technology. We’ve done the homework; we just need your approval to move forward. Contact us to learn more.

lumens vs watts

How Many Lumens Do I Need for Outdoor Lighting?

lumens vs watts

What Is a Lumen & Why Does It Matter

In the past, light was measured in watts, which directly measures the amount of electrical power a light bulb consumes. Therefore, people used to expect light intensity to be a function of how much power a light required—higher watts mean brighter light as well as a higher electric bill. Today however, lumen is a popular measurement for light. A lumen is the unit that defines the intensity of light. This unit can be directly related to the amount of light energy that is being emitted from a particular light source. You will find the specifications for how many lumens a particular bulb emits from its packaging.

In short, the difference between watts and lumens is as follows: wattage measures the amount of electrical power a light bulb consumes; lumens measure the actual brightness, regardless of how much power is needed. When choosing outdoor lighting, lumens are a more valuable measurement than watts.

Lumen Requirements for Outdoor Lights

After continuous practice combined with user feedback, we have summarized the different lumen requirements for various outdoor lights.

Types of Lighting Lumens Requirement
Path lighting 100-200 lumens
Step lights 12-100 lumens
Flood lights 700-1300 lumens
Motion sensor lights 300-700 lumens
Pond/pool lights 200-400 lumens
Hardscape lights (on walls) 50-185 lumens
Landscape 50-300 lumens

Solar LED Lighting Stands for the Future

Lumens have substituted watts to become the new light measurement, because a bulb with higher wattage doesn’t mean it will produce a brighter light. Nowadays, we are trying to produce more light using less energy, and we have to consider 2 things: the bulb and the energy.

LED vs Fluorescent vs Incandescent Energy Consumption

The era of incandescent bulbs is gone (read more in the historical evolution of outdoor lighting bulbs), and the winner is the LED bulb. Although some places still use fluorescent lights, LED has become more and more popular due to its long life and extremely low power consumption. The sheet below shows the power consumption of 3 types of bulbs, and there is no doubt that LED saves the most energy.

450 lumens 800 lumens 1100 lumens 1600 lumens 2600 lumens 5800 lumens
LED 6W 9-10W 13W 16-18W 24W 45W
Fluorescent 8-9W 13-14W 18-19W 23W 40W 85W
Incandescent 40W 60W 75W 100W 150W 300W

Solar & LED Win

With the use of LED lights, solar-powered lighting becomes a more viable option, which saves on energy bills in the long run. Solar power is a green, renewable, and sustainable energy source. It will never run out and can provide lighting indefinitely. It won’t produce greenhouse gases which contribute to global climate change. It’s obvious that there are various advantages to solar energy, which is why they continue to grow at a rapid pace.

In conclusion, people today use “Lumens” to measure the light brightness and how much lighting they need. Under the premise of producing the same lumens lighting, LED bulbs consume much less power than fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. What’s more, LED bulbs combined with solar energy saves you even more on your electricity bills. Whether they do it for saving money or being environmentally-friendly, many cities in America have already switched to solar LED lights for their outdoor street lights, park lights, and so on. Please contact Greenshine New Energy for more information about solar led lighting.

 

solar street lights

Cost Effectiveness: Traditional Street Lights VS. Solar Energy Lights

solar street lights

When thinking about solar energy, what comes to mind first?

NEW? GREEN? SUSTAINABLE?

It can’t be denied that, in an era of such energy scarcity, solar power will become a hot commodity of the future. In the city planning process, it is necessary to consider the efficient use of energy, which accounts for why more and more cities in the United States are starting to launch solar outdoor lighting projects.

Solar street lights have a huge advantage over traditional street lights. But when city planners choose streetlights, the main reason that stops them from choosing solar powered light is the high price. People take it for granted that the price of solar products is higher than that of ordinary products. But is that really the case? Let’s compare the cost effectiveness of ordinary street lights and solar street lights.

Purchase Cost

Generally speaking, in the purchase process, we look at price first. From this point of view, solar street lights do not have much of an advantage, because the price is usually twice that of traditional street lights. Due to the capital investment in scientific research and the manufacturing of special materials, the high price of solar street lamps is understandable. However, the purchase price alone cannot be the only means by which to measure the cost effectiveness of solar street lights, and we need to consider the costs incurred in other aspects of the purchase process.

Installation Cost

Installing traditional street lights cost a lot, especially for areas with insufficient electrical infrastructure, such as remote areas or disaster areas. This is because traditional street lights require cabling and trenching to connect to grid lines. In contrast, solar street lights are off-grid, making them much simpler to install.

Operation Cost

The biggest difference between traditional street lights and solar street lights is the energy source. Traditional street lights are powered by electricity (limited and costly), while solar street lights rely on solar power (sustainable and free). City streetlight projects usually require a large number of street lights. And the increased electricity usage adds up fast when using traditional street lights. Therefore, solar powered street lights have the advantage in operational costs.

Maintenance Cost

Maintenance costs must be considered in the planning and construction of urban street lights. Traditional street lights use sodium bulbs, which have a lifespan of about only 5 years. In addition, traditional light bulbs and some electric wires also require frequent maintenance due to thunderstorms or other extreme weather. Solar street lights are far superior in durability to traditional street lights. While they do require eventual battery replacement—the battery has a lifespan of about 5-7 years.

In conclusion, the installation cost, operation cost, and maintenance cost of traditional street lights per unit ranges from $7,000-8,000 over a 10 year period, while solar street light cost is estimated at $3,500-5,000 over the same period of time. The extra costs associated with traditional street lights make their advantage of lower purchase price disappear.

After comparing the cost effectiveness of traditional street lights and solar street lights, you can now choose solar street lights with confidence. In fact, the savings are just one small benefit of solar street lights. The greatest benefit is that your city will start to use NEW, GREEN and SUSTAINABLE lighting.