Yinnar Solar Footpath

Yinnar Solar Footpath

“Community-led projects like this really demonstrate the benefits of transitioning to renewable energy, not only for the community but also in building a sustainable energy future for us all” – Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio.

For over ten years the community had identified lighting the one-kilometre path from the towns centre to their recreation reserve as a high priority project.

Safety concerns about people walking home next to a dark country road, particularly in the winter months, had always been a significant concern. However, the lighting would also allow the community to expand the use of their facilities.

Reticulated lighting was just too expensive and needed to be installed entirely, whereas solar-powered lights offered a cheaper, more flexible solution in which poles could be installed individually as funding became available.

The community association raised an impressive $20,000 for the solar pathway lights and was supported by the Latrobe City Council who contributed a further $20,000. The Latrobe Valley Authority granted a Community and Facility Fund worth $120,000 to complete the project in a single install.

4 Considerations for Lighting a Pathway

4 Considerations for Lighting a Pathway

Public pathways may be convenient during the day, but they often must close at sundown—which can limit their use, especially in winter months with shorter hours of daylight. Proper signage and after-dark policies may help, but installing effective lighting is an even better way to increase the sense of safety for walkers. Here are four key things to consider to effectively light your shared pathway project.

#1: Consider what the community wants.

Properly assessed lighting considers who will be using the shared pathway and for what purpose. What types of users are there? Commuters traveling after dark, especially in winter, will likely need and want more lighting than weekend visitors, who may be more likely to stick to daylight hours for their activities.

Properly assessed lighting considers who will be using the shared pathway and for what purpose. What types of users are there? Commuters traveling after dark, especially in winter, will likely need and want more lighting than weekend visitors, who may be more likely to stick to daylight hours for their activities.

In addition, there must be a proper environmental assessment to ensure the local ecology won’t be negatively affected by the lighting. Trees and underground works don’t mix very well, and tree roots often interfere with underground cabling when grid-powered lighting is used, which then leads to long term maintenance costs.

#2: Consider what lighting type works for the physical location.

There are several considerations for lighting on a pathway. Wired lighting may require little maintenance over time, but it is expensive to install and may not be feasible in riparian corridors or anywhere that environmental disruption is not permitted. Battery-powered lighting may be cheap and easy to repair, but it is not reliable and requires frequent maintenance for battery changes.

A solar-powered light combines the reliability of a wired light with the simplicity of the installation of a battery-powered light. With no trenching required for cables, it is environmentally friendly and simple to maintain. Solar-powered pathway lights are reliable as long as they are sized correctly for the location and are not heavily shaded by trees or structures. If trees are a factor, can solar lights still be an option?

#3: Consider what lighting placement and design will work for the pathway location and use.

A solar-powered light combines the reliability of a wired light with the simplicity of the installation of a battery-powered light. With no trenching required for cables, it is environmentally friendly and simple to maintain. Solar-powered pathway lights are reliable as long as they are sized correctly for the location and are not heavily shaded by trees or structures. If trees are a factor, can solar lights still be an option?

  • Meet Australia’s lighting compliance standards: Lights should comply with illumination requirements as set out by Light Council of Australia.
  • Light only what’s needed: Lights should be shielded, pointing only at the ground and not into the sky to help minimize light pollution, which affects people, animals, and the environment.
  • Be appropriate: Lights should be scaled effectively for pathway use and spaced properly for adequate coverage.
  • Be placed where required for safety: That includes at tunnels and overpasses; trailheads; bridge entrances and exits; public gathering places; along streets; crosswalks; where the path crosses another path or sidewalk; and on signage.
  • Be aesthetically pleasing: While not a requirement, lights that have a warm-white glow rather than a blue-white glow are more pleasant to the eye. In the past, achieving this color with LEDs was more of a challenge, but today’s technology is making it possible to provide a warm-white LED light without breaking the bank.

#4: Consider who will be installing and maintaining the lights

It is one thing to choose lights for the end-users, but it’s another to choose lights that will be cost-effective to install and maintain. Installation varies by location and type of light, so running a cost comparison can be a good place to start.

Meanwhile, maintenance can be a challenge for local governments with budgets already stretched thin. For wired lights, a problem with one can cause a whole string to go out. Battery-powered lights avoid this problem, but if the lights are not configured properly, the maintenance team may be out changing batteries more frequently than they would like. With solar lights, there is maintenance still required like any other lighting solution, however, if lithium-ion batteries are used and the technology is high quality, then maintenance is minimal.

Leadsun’s 15th anniversary in business

Leadsun’s 15th anniversary in business

2020 marks Leadsun’s 15th anniversary in business, and as pioneers in the solar street lighting industry, we couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve achieved over the last 15 years. Whether it’s creating a higher level of safety in the community by lighting up dark public spaces or providing a sustainable lighting solution to cut carbon emissions in communities, there is no challenge we have not overcome.    

Since 2005, we are extremely proud of the positive impact we have made to Australian communities and the challenges we have overcome.  And even in these turbulent times, we want you to know that we are here for you, forging ahead and open for business, ready to help light up your community with affordable solar lighting that is quick and easy to install.

The Challenge

While 2020 has presented many challenges to us all, and the focus right now is staying healthy and socially conscious, we must stay positive and keep moving forward as a community learning from the past and strengthening the future. As we start rebuilding communities that have been affected by bushfires and floods, now is the time to seek new orientations and take a fresh approach to safety and sustainability. 

7 Questions you need to ask before you start a commercial public lighting project

7 Questions you need to ask before you start a commercial public lighting project

When you install a traditional commercial light, you don’t often need to be concerned with whether it will be “bright” enough or will operate continuously because there is an expectation that it will work as specified. You trench, lay cables, connect to the utility, and bam—you have light!

However, if you’re looking to avoid the costly and time-consuming trenching option and you’d rather not pay any on-going power costs, then a properly-sized solar lighting system is a fantastic option. While a solar-powered commercial light can achieve the same lighting results as a traditional light, there are a few specific things you will need to evaluate to ensure you get the right results.

Why are we asking these questions?

  • Avoid overspending: ensure the lighting system will use properly-sized components for your project needs vs. having an unnecessarily large and expensive system to compensate for poor design.
  • Avoid battery replacements or auto shut-off: install an efficient system that will be able to sustain your light requirements over the long term vs. one that dims the lights, leads to premature failure of the battery, or shuts the lights off completely.

Q1. Ask about the Project Location

What is the exact location of the project? Try to get an accurate street address and site description whenever possible.

Why? This allows the manufacturers to factor solar insolation data into their system design.

Different areas receive different amounts of sunlight each day. For example, a solar light specified for sunny, southern Los Angeles would be smaller and therefore wouldn’t be able to generate enough power to provide continuous light for Anchorage, Alaska. And a solar light specified for Anchorage would be unnecessarily large for Los Angeles.

Knowing the project location allows the manufacturers to build and specify their systems for your exact location and to avoid proposing a system that’s too small or too large for your area.

Also, a street address can allow for the assessment of potential shading hazards—like trees, buildings, or other obstructions—which could block the solar panel from the sun and decrease your system’s performance.

Q2. Ask about the Project Application

What kind of area are you trying to illuminate? Knowing the basic type of street vs. pathway will change the lighting output requirement.

Why? The application may affect pole height, pole spacing, and light levels requirements. A street, for example, will probably require higher light levels than a trail or park. Here are some possible applications:

  • Shared Pathway
  • Residential street
  • Recreational Reserve
  • Car Park
  • Thoroughfares
  • The entryway to a building

Q3. Ask about the Project Dimensions

What is the length of the street/pathway or size of the general area (for a parking lot, etc.)?

Why? The size or length of the area will affect the number of lighting systems required, and uniformity of the light hitting the ground, which all factors into the overall project cost.

Q4. Ask about the Pole Details

Is there a specified pole height? What type of pole is required?

Why? Pole height may affect the number of lighting systems required for the project. Pole type may affect the installation costs.

Q5. Ask about the Required Light Levels and Uniformity

Is there is a state/municipal standard for light levels for the project, what are they? What light levels need to be met on the ground (measured by foot candles or lux)? What uniformity requirements are there if known?

Why? Different applications will require different light levels, which plays a large role in determining the overall project cost.

Q6. Ask about the Operating Profile

How long does the light need to be on each night? When the light is on, do the light levels need to be met throughout the night or just at certain times? If you’re unsure, a good manufacturer should be able to help.

Why? The operating profile is a key aspect of a solar lighting project. Manufacturers will “tune” their systems differently for power management, based on these profiles.

Here are some examples of operating profiles:

  • Dusk to dawn (all-night operation): the light will run at the same light output level all night.
  • Dim in off-peak hours: for example, the light will run at the required light output level for 5 hours after dusk, then dim to 30% of the required light level. 2 hours before dawn, the light levels will return to 100% until sunrise.
  • Off or dimmed at an exact time: for example, the light will run at the required light output level until 11 p.m., then will turn off.

Q7. Ask about the Color Temperature

What color of light is required—warmer (3000K) or cooler (6000K)?

Why? Color temperature affects the fixture power output, and can factor into the project cost. While light color temperature may be more of a preference than a requirement, cities are leaning more towards lights with warmer color temperatures as they seem to be better for our health and the environment.

In Summary

Asking these questions can ensure you’re specified a solar light that will meet your project requirements over the long term at no extra cost. You can also be confident that your lighting system won’t die prematurely or become unnecessarily large and expensive.

Contact us for learn more about common specifications of solar lighting systems and how they can affect the overall performance and cost.