What are the Processes Behind Manufacturing a Solar Light?
Posted by Stephen Shickadance in Inspiring Projects.
Solar lighting is a bit of a modern marvel. Sure, we don't often think about the manufacturing process of solar light, or how light is installed, or what fuels the light fixture to begin with. Those topics often take less priority when we're trying to meet up with friends at night to catch the latest blockbuster movie or television show. But if you think about it, there's a little bit of magic that happens inside of the components of a solar-powered outdoor light. What we don't realize is that the mundane is actually quite fantastic, and it's hidden in the inner workings of the solar light as a whole. Here's how the most important components of a solar light come together to reproduce the light given to us from the Earth's largest bulb in the sky.
Solar Panel Manufacturing
The manufacturing process with solar lighting (the method that Greenshine uses) starts with silicon. A vast majority of photovoltaic materials are manufactured from silicon because it's an incredibly abundant resource, making up about 25% of the Earth's crust by weight. A silicon "seed" is dipped into a large vat of melted silicon and slowly rotated to draw out the purest silicon substance, which eventually hardens into an ingot. From this long cylinder of hardened, pure silicon, extremely thin slices are cut from the ingot and then prepped to have solar cells installed on them. This particular process is extremely slow and somewhat wasteful of silicon since the ingot is often trimmed down--but it produces the most efficient panels on the market. This is what's called the Czochralski method.
Why are ingots trimmed?
Ingots are trimmed down in such a way to reduce as much silicon waste as possible, but also to shape the wafers so they fit properly onto a solar array small enough to be supported by a solar light pole. Thankfully, the wasted silicon can be re-used into other panels. Typically the excess is added back into the solar cell manufacturing process for poly-crystalline solar cells--a less-efficient solar technology, one that isn't used for our solar lights. Greenshine utilizes only the most efficient materials on the market for solar powered outdoor lighting today. Does it take longer to produce mono-crystalline wafers? Yes. Does it produce more silicon waste? Yes, but that silicon is used in other solar panel products. Is it time-consuming, expensive, and tedious? Yes, but we wouldn't have it any other way. That's what sets Greenshine apart from the competition.
Working with LED Lights
LED light fixtures aren't "one kind fits all." When it comes to solar powered outdoor lighting, we focus on a lighting brand that delivers in three aspects: light quality, longevity, and energy efficiency. Cree LED lights hit those three aspects with flying colors, so to speak. Here's the breakdown for each aspect and why these lights are perfect for pairing with a solar panel.
The Quality of Light
An average color temperature per light fixture we target is 4000K, commonly referred to as neutral white. It's important to have accurate color reproduction, especially in public. The ability of a public light to accurately reflect an object's true color is referred to as color rendition, and other light technologies don't really score well when discussing that topic. LED produces the best color rendition for subjects illuminated under the fixture. Need convincing?
For comparison, the image listed here is of two vehicles sitting under a high-pressure sodium (HPS) light. Believe it or not, the vehicle on the left is red, even though they both appear to be black. That's what bad color rendition results in; colors that aren't reproduced accurately. And, honestly, ugly lighting. When searching for your car in a sea of potentially hundreds of others (we've forgotten where we parked too, sometimes), it's nice to perceive the color of your car as it's meant to be.
[caption id="attachment_6916" align="aligncenter" width="300"]
Believe it or not, the car on the left is red.[/caption]
LED light fixtures are designed specifically to last. Since LED lights operate with what's known as solid-state lighting, a lot less heat generates from the light source (as opposed to sodium-vapor methods). If you need a demonstration, check out Cree's video on how a chocolate bunny melts under incandescent light. Of course, we're dealing with much larger fixtures when it comes to outdoor lighting, but it's nice to know that LEDs are built for longevity because they produce significantly less heat than other lighting technologies. LEDs can potentially last over 100,000 hours. That's over 11 years. Some cars don't last that long.
Signed into law in 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act established an efficiency standard for lighting, stating that bulbs and fixtures on the market needed to utilize 25% less energy. Thankfully, LED lights at this time were well on their way to being affordable and viable for use in public areas under this standard. LED lights today are approximately 80% more efficient than most other lighting technologies! Since they're much more efficient, less energy is required to produce the same amount of light, costing less. It's a literal win with LEDs and energy efficiency, which is why we pair them with our solar powered outdoor lights.
The bottom line, we've done the research to determine the best LED lights on the market for use in our solar lights. The trifecta of success--efficient, color accurate, and long-lasting--is perfect for use in solar lighting fixtures wherever lighting is needed in parking lots, parks, streets, pathways, or other places.
Greenshine New Energy has been in the solar lighting business since 2007, and every year we've seen improvements to light efficiency, solar technology, and significant price drops for both--panel installation prices have dropped over 50% in the past decade! Our crack team of engineers can design a solar outdoor lighting system to fit your lighting needs and budget. We've saved companies hundreds of thousands of dollars via lighting solutions that save on energy usage, trenching, and wiring. Contact us for a professional consultation and see how we can save you green by using green energy.
image credit: Wikipedia User Darkest Tree
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