Is it Possible to Re-Use Existing Poles and Concrete Bases From Old Lights? Yes, it's Called Solar Retrofitting
Posted by Stephen Shickadance in Solar FAQs.
So you're probably here because you already have a lighting system in place. Perhaps something happened and now your entire light infrastructure has gone out due to one small mishap in the wiring, or perhaps the whole shebang is kaput. The wallet is slim and so are your options, so you want to keep the existing poles without installing new ones. The good news is that yes, you can "retro-fit" solar powered pole lights onto existing poles. The bad news is not with every pole.
Why You Can Use Some Poles for Solar Retrofitting and Not Others
If You're Not Using a Solar Lamp Post...
Our solar lighting systems are behemoths that are normally built with poles that can withstand a range temperature changes and 140 MPH wind gusts--we're not talking some flimsy foundation here. We use hot-dip galvanized, powder-coated, steel poles that are built to last approximately 50 years, but if using a pole specifically built for a lighting system isn't available because pre-existing poles are in place, or if new pole placement isn't possible, you can opt to use solar retrofitting instead.
So if there's a retro-fit operation to be done instead of using built and provided light poles, it's a viable job if the original pole is built like a brick house—wood or concrete poles from city installations fare well. Poles from very old light installations aren't as viable, and if the foundation isn't solid, the pole won't be either. Time, temperature changes, uncertain pole construction, and other factors all contribute to pole wear and tear. It's possible to re-use existing poles, but only if they're sturdy enough beyond their original construction.
How Does Solar Retrofitting Work?
Here's how solar retrofit lighting operates. Instead of visiting the site, pouring the concrete for the foundation, letting the concrete cure (which takes weeks), and then installing each light one by one, the fixture, panel, battery, and smaller components are just drilled sturdily into the existing pole—there's no wait needed for the bases to harden or poles to ship. Plus, there's no routing cables through poles. The installation is mostly just drilling, placing the components, and then connecting the wires.
What Kind of Light Fixtures Work with Solar Retrofitting?
A typical light fixture for a retro-fit pole is the all-in-one, which combines the light fixture, solar panel, and battery in one unit. These are quicker to install than normal solar lighting systems since they need only to be affixed to the pre-existing pole. These fixtures aren't always used in solar retrofitting, but they're a fantastic choice since they can be installed in typically less than 30 minutes. If your total solar project has 10 lights, the entire system can be overhauled in less than 5 hours. Time is the largest benefit with solar retrofitting.
Another project, the Miraval Resort in Texas, used the old wooden poles from a previous installation and Greenshine's Lumina light fixture. A lot of time was saved on the project because the poles were already in place and new poles didn't seem viable for the project because the soil was particularly rocky, nearly preventing any level foundation for pole bases.
If there are still burning questions if you want to move to a full solar installation, feel free to contact us and ask about your current situation. We're willing to work with you on whatever solar light installation you need, so if you have sturdy poles in place for solar retrofitting, excellent! If your old lighting system looks like a strong gust of wind can knock it over, we can provide better options to see your project revived and completed. After all, if you're going to invest in solar, it's important to ensure it can withstand what mother nature may throw at it. We're Greenshine New Energy, where poles aren't monkey business to us. Contact us for more information.
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