Convert street lights to solar?

We have around 15 street lights lighting the streets in a 16 acre park at night. It runs about $475 a month in electricity and I cringe every time I pay. I’m thinking about converting the lights to solar to eliminate this expense (at least until the batteries need replacement). Has anyone done this? What questions would you ask when getting quotes for a job like this?

I have been looking into this a lot lately. What I can say is that some cities got completely screwed paying for expensive LED lights under the promise of cost savings to find out that they burn out a lot sooner than advertised.

These solar lights all run on LED too so if anything I would do a pilot with a time tested vendor to see if they hold up and you get “a better deal” per fixture than your current monthly run rate.

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I haven’t found a solar light as bright as one that is powered by electricity. Also, I haven’t seen solar lights that stay @ 100% power all night.
I did switch all of my old mercury vapor bulbs to LED. The LEDs are super bright and are said to use about 1/3 the power.
Amazon had 80 watt LED “corn cob” style bulbs for about $30 each. So far so good, one month later.
You will need to wire the fixture a little different, but that was easy.

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I agree with CAmhp, when I researched this a year ago, the economics just wasn’t there for solar lights. To get a solar light that’s as bright as a typical street light is usually very expensive.

Upgrading any street lights from mercury vapor to LEDs is a slam dunk, but solar lighting doesn’t seem to be a good deal. I’d love to be convinced otherwise though.

Hello! This is MJ from Gama Sonic Solar Lighting. We’ve had a good relationship with this forum for several years, and we are always happy to answer questions around solar street lights and pedestrian lights. Let me try to address some of your concerns:

First, in the lighting industry, there is a difference between solar street lights and solar pedestrian lights (also called residential lights). You’ll want to know the differences between these two products so that when you research them you are getting the right information. The term “streetlight” generally refers to big, tall, bright lights like those you see alongside highways and large roads or in shopping center parking lots. Street lights for low-to-moderate-capacity collector roads would be 7,500-15,000 lumens. For larger roads, streetlights are usually 15,000 - 25,000 lumens, and for highways they are usually 25,000 - 100,000 lumens.

Compare that number to an average 60-watt bulb, which has around 800 lumens and is already uncomfortably bright if you gaze directly at it, and you’ll agree that streetlights are VERY bright. The benefits of such tall, bright lights are that you can illuminate a huge area with just a few fixtures, and you can place the light up high and out of the way of vandals. The negatives of lights like these are that they can be TOO bright. Excessive brightness creates excessive shadow and blinding glare which can counteract a light’s usefulness. Their height and brightness also contribute to light pollution that annoys star-gazing humans and disturbs animal ecosystems. (Read more about light pollution here: http://cescos.fau.edu/observatory/lightpol.html)

Streetlights serve an important purpose. But most of the time, when mobile home park owners are exploring street lighting options, they would be better served with pedestrian or residential lighting. Probably the most common brightness for residential streetlights is around 5000 lumens. However, studies show that lower-than-average lumen outputs can be recommended to “help mitigate glare, improve visual comfort and visibility, and make outdoor spaces more inviting.” Our brightest pedestrian lamp is the GS-100 Centennial, which shines at 900 lumens per lamp head. Most pedestrian lights should be installed closer to the ground (around 8-12 feet high) and closer together than ultra-bright non-solar lamps.

Don’t let the low lumens fool you: the human eye doesn’t need blindingly bright light to be able to see its surroundings. Even with “low” lumen output, the commercial-grade solar lights we offer at Gama Sonic illuminate spaces between 15 and 40 feet in diameter. A huge benefit of these lower-lumen lamps is that they will not temporarily blind you if you look directly at them, so you will have constant clear visibility of the lighted area. Not only is that kind of light more attractive and safe, but it also avoids light pollution, which can annoy neighbors, irritate residents, and damage the natural environment.

Solar pedestrian lights aren’t for everyone and every purpose, of course. First, you may decide you need very, very bright lights. Second, you may not be in an area where the lights get 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. Shadows from tall buildings or trees can interfere with the solar light’s ability to charge. Our commercial-grade lights are designed to work even under sub-optimal conditions, and depending on the model, they can last for up to 10 days on a fully charged battery. (Get our free whitepaper on the best solar lights for snowy, rainy, and cloudy climates here: https://mailchi.mp/gamasonic.com/beaconofhope)

Some solar lights will dim as their batteries drain. Gama Sonic solar lights are designed to maintain a constant brightness. We do have one light that is designed to stair-step down to a lower lumen output late at night, which is a feature some property owners asked us for. But for all other models, you will experience a constant level of brightness.

Most LED lights are long-lasting, which is one reason why they are such good investments. All our solar lamps use LED lights that are designed to last around 10 years. They have replaceable batteries and other parts, so if something happens to them, you can usually repair it without having to replace the entire light. The batteries usually last for about 3 years, and the bulbs or LED lamps usually last 10 years. You can install solar lamp heads on existing poles or install new poles with no wiring, digging, or trenching required. This adds to their cost-effective and eco-friendly qualities.

We believe that solar lights are a cost-saving, resource-saving, and labor-saving alternative to traditional gas and electric lights, and we have many happy customers who would agree. We’ve been installed in mobile home parks, communities, and towns all across the United States and Canada. Most of our customers are repeat customers who continue to see the benefits of our solar lights and want to continue investing in them. (I’ve reached my limit on how many links I can add to this post so I can’t give you a video link, but if you look for Gama Sonic’s Youtube account, you can see some client testimonial videos from mobile home parks who invest in our lights.)

We do recommend that you carefully assess whether or not your situation is right for solar, because it won’t work for everyone. But if you think it might work for you, and you want to learn more or request a quote, you can reach out to us at matt @ gamasonic dot com or mj @ gamasonic dot com. You can also call us at (678) 736-8303.