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Cost Comparison Between Solar vs. Traditional Lights

As solar lights have increased in popularity over the last 5 years due to emerging green technologies and rising energy costs, an important question is being raised: how much do solar street lights costs compared to traditional street lighting? To solve this mystery, our expert team of engineers gathered the necessary information to provide a cost analysis of each lighting system.

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The Light

Traditional street lighting is defined as any electrical light used for street lighting, which is most commonly metal halide and high pressure sodium lights. The average cost of one light, including the lighting fixture, pole, and base, averages at $1500.

Solar street lights are fixtures that use a solar panel to garner electricity. They are off-grid and can be installed in remote locations. Because of the advanced technology required for solar lights, they are more expensive, averaging about $3000 per light.  

Installation

The biggest difference between the cost of traditional and solar lights lies in the installation.

Traditional lights are connected to a standard electrical grid for their power which requires trenching and underground wiring. When adding in labor fees, this process would cost consumers about $120 per foot. The average cost of installation for traditional lighting would then be around $4500.

Because solar lights are autonomous and off the main grid system, consumers avoid the long and costly process of trenching and wiring. The cost of installation reduces significantly as a result, pricing around $1500.

Maintenance

Solar lights require less maintenance than traditional lighting systems. The typical lifespan for a traditional street light averages around 5,000-8,000 hours, while solar LED lights last 5-7 years.

While solar lights need to be repaired less frequently, the cost of each repair is higher. The battery of a solar light needs to be changed every 5-7 years. The cost of 2 batteries and labor for those changes averages around $1000. This is only slightly higher than the cost of standard lights which is about $800.

Energy Bills

Since solar lights gather their energy from the sun, there are no energy costs! Standard lights, on the other hand, accumulate about $1500 in energy costs over 10 years.

Incentive Programs

Solar lighting systems are also heavily subsidized to encourage the use of green energy. According to the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, there are about 200 financial incentive programs for solar alone. Both the private and public sector offer incentives to use solar, but each entity differs in the amount and type of incentive they provide. For example, North Carolina provides a 35% tax credit against the total cost of the system, while the Federal government offers 30%. For more information on the solar incentives, rebates, tax credits, and grant available, visit http://www.dsireusa.org/.

The Verdict

When comparing the total costs of traditional and solar lighting, there appears to be a clear winner. Overall, solar would cost around $5500 over 10 years, while standard costs a steep $8300. Solar lights save heavily on both upfront installation costs and long term energy costs. 

In the battle of the lighting systems, technology and innovation won. While traditional lighting systems may have won some battles, solar lights won the war.

 

California’s Bright Future: The Solar Mandate

On May 9th, the Sunshine State became the first to require a solar installation on new housing. This historic development is that latest sign that solar energy is gaining traction around the U.S., hopefully setting precedent for many states to come.

The California Energy Commission unanimously passed the 2019 Energy Efficiency Standards, mandating all new housing developments up to 3 stories to include some solar energy installation in the home. This is apart of California’s goal to have 50% of their electricity to come from non carbon sources by 2030 and cutting down greenhouse emissions by 40%. Under this mandate, builders must either include individual solar panels on homes or attach groups of home to a shared power system. Homeowners will either pay for this new power source inclusively in the initial housing price or in a monthly fee.

According the the Commission, this plan is estimated to use 53% less energy than under the 2016 standards, majorly progressing towards their 2030 goal. In addition, greenhouse gases are expected to decrease by 700,000 metric tons due to this mandate.

Solar panels are roughly suppose to provide about 60-70% of quality energy for the average home. In the winter, solar panels will still produce energy on cloud-filled days and actually increase output in colder temperatures. To provide even more insurance, the mandate dictates that houses would still be attached to a power grid to ensure a constant supply of energy among all weather conditions.

For those concerned about the the price of this mandate, the costs associated with this plan are negligible as the savings outweighs the costs overtime. While the initial cost of construction is estimated to increase about $10,000, environmental economists predict solar efficiency will save homeowners around $19,000 on electric bills over 30 years, averaging at $80 per month.

The California mandate made a giant step towards sustainable consumption and paves the future for solar energy. From solar houses to solar street lights to even solar powered cars, the market for solar is growing and demands attention. California and its’ energy-friendly policies are raising the bar to encourage other states to take the steps towards sustainable living and prove that investing in solar is worth it.

Solar Powered States

Solar power is on the rise in America and the International Energy Agency predicts that solar power will make 16% of the world’s electricity by 2050.

That’s quite a lot of energy and it got us thinking, what would it actually take to make 100% of the world’s electricity via solar power? Could America actually power the world with solar panels? And what could each state power if we filled them with solar panels? We crunched the numbers and came up with some interesting results.

solar power by state

No surprises but the largest states of Alaska, Texas, and California can house the most solar panels and also produce the most power with Alaska being able to generate a whopping 1 trillion kilowatts of energy, Texas 450 billion kilowatts, and California 274 billion kilowatts from just 4 hours of sunlight in a day.

solar powering countries

Feeling neighborly? From Argentina to the United Arab Emirates, each individual state can meet a wide range of countries energy needs for an entire year from just four hours of sunlight! Alaska can power Russia for an entire year, Texas could power France, New York Rwanda, and California Saudi Arabia to name but a few.

solar powering the world

When it comes to powering the world, if America was one giant solar panel it would take just 16 hours of sunlight to power the entire world for 1 year. In 1 year it could power 105 years of energy use in the world.

And just for fun, from time travel to powering televisions showing the super bowl, here’s some fun things states can power:

solar power super bowl

solar power new york city

solar power delorean

solar power magic kingdom

solar power tesla

solar power las vegas

solar power iphones

solar power dallas cowboys

So there you have it, America could power the world for a whopping 105 years, Texas can happily watch the Dallas Cowboys till the end of time, and if California can reach 88 mph, they can time travel over 200,000 times all thanks to solar energy.

Greenshine New Energy $1000 College Scholarship

2018 Greenshine New Energy $1000 College Scholarship

Want $1000 for college? Greenshine New Energy can help make that happen

If you are currently enrolled in college (or headed there in 2018!) and want to win a $1000 scholarship to help cover expenses, consider entering the Greenshine New Energy $1000 Scholarship contest.

Greenshine New Energy will award a $1000 scholarship to one highly motivated student who can thoughtfully respond to the prompt below.

How It Works:

Please tell us in 800 words or less how you think green energy technology will change in the next 30 years and what the impact on our lives will be.

Here’s How to Win:

  • Answer the prompt above in 800 words or less.
  • Fill out the form below, including a link to a Google Doc answering the prompt above. Ensure your Google Docs file is saved in the format (yourname)-(dob)-2018 Greenshine New Energy $1000 College Scholarship Submission.
  • We will pick a winner on October 31, 2018 and notify you*
  • A member of the Greenshine New Energy team will  team will email you to confirm your mailing address and send you a check or Visa gift card in the mail for $1000
  • We will announce the winners on the Greenshine New Energy blog.

To Be Eligible:

  • All submissions must be received by midnight on October 28th 2018.
  • You must be a graduating senior in high school or a freshman, sophomore, or junior in college or trade school and at least 16 years of age in the US Territories.
  • We reserve the right to verify the date of your high school graduation and/or college enrollment.
  • Each entrant affirms that they have met all eligibility requirements and releases their entry to be used for any purpose by Greenshine New Energy.
  • Any and all submissions may be used in future Greenshine New Energy marketing.

*Disclaimer: Greenshine New Energy respects your privacy and will not share any personal information without prior approval from you. The selection process is subjective. We will pick our favorite winners based on the submissions we receive by the deadline listed above.

Solar Modules in Winter - Solar Panel Street Lights

Do Solar Panels Work in the Winter?

Unless you are from sunny California or one of its neighboring southern states, you have probably wondered if solar panels work in the winter. Well, good news. Solar panels are powered by light, so they will continue to produce energy if the sun is out even if there 6 inches of snow on the ground.

People who believe that solar panels only work on sunny days are mistaken. Even though they do work better on cloudless days, solar panels are active in most kinds of weather. Since the amount of light available is significantly lower, the amount of electricity produced on cloudy days is reduced as well, usually reaching only about a quarter of the maximum expected amount.

In the conditions of light snow, the effect on the electrical output of the panels should be minimal. Small amounts of snow can slide off fairly easily from their smooth surface. Even if a thin layer of snow sits on the surface, fully covered panels will still produce some electricity since sunlight can still penetrate the panels in a thin layer of snow.  On the other hand, heavy snowfall can have a more detrimental effect on the solar panels and electricity production. Simply put, snow is heavy. If a lot of it falls on a panel, the sheer weight of it can damage the panel and cause malfunctions. On fixtures without frames, snow usually slides off without much problem, so it never accumulates and has little effect on the panel.

Contrary to popular belief, snow actually helps solar panels. Think to your windshield in a snowstorm. Once the snow is removed, your windshield is left squeaky clean because any dirt that was previously on the surface is now wiped clean. The exact same thing happens with solar panels. Once the snow melts or falls off the panel, it leaves it very clean, and cleaner panels absorb more sunlight.

When evaluating your solar needs, the best approach would be to calculate how much sun you can expect over the course of the year, not a gray winter day. Regions which experience harsh winters can have a good amount of sun through the year, which makes them good candidates for solar power.