As various facilities pursue new goals for reducing energy consumption and carbon footprints, an increasing trend is to install innovative solar-powered light emitting diode (LED) fixtures for various applications. Several leading LED fixture or solid state lighting (SSL) companies include General Electric, Philips Lumileds, Sharp, Cree and Carmanah Technologies, all of which whom offer competitive product portfolios in this area. These companies are developing lighting for airports, railways, parking lots, street lights, and mobile military installations, which in some cases can be solar-powered. On a more fundamental level, the actual materials used in high-brightness LED chips for these applications are typically thin-films of single-crystal gallium nitride on single-crystal sapphire wafers.
Several advantages of this technology include: the convenience of not having to regularly change bulbs, scheduled maintenance only every five years or more, improved energy efficiency up to 70 percent in some cases, vivid saturated colors, less susceptibility to extremely cold temperatures and the elimination of utility fees for illuminating a lot or other outdoor areas for fixtures with the solar power feature. In addition, LED lights dim slightly over time, providing a warning for replacement, as opposed to sudden failure in the case of incandescent bulbs. One popular product is the EverGEN™ 1520 solar-powered LED light by Carmanah, which is designed specifically for industrial-scale street and parking applications. This stand-alone outdoor light provides a reliable source of bright, uniform illumination and can be integrated in a streamlined fashion on properties, since it is not connected with local power distribution lines that require initial trenching and cabling. Aside from the reduced installation costs of a wireless lighting alternative, the performance, durability and lifespan of solar-powered LED lights offer additional long-run savings in energy costs. Of course, rechargeable batteries are included to compensate for variable solar radiation levels and for storage to generate night-time illumination.
Another major benefit of SSL is that it generates highly-directed light, as opposed to conventional sources such as incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent bulbs, which emit light in all directions. Thus, the EverGEN 1520 performs in accordance with guidelines for the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) that satisfy compliance with communities having strict light pollution regulations such as the City of Tucson and Pima County, both in Arizona, as these rules were administered more than 30 years ago to preserve the region's dark sky at night for its world-class astronomy community at the University of Arizona, and the Kitt Peak and Vatican Observatories. The design of EverGEN products is gauged for delivering light only where needed, while reducing or eliminating common outdoor lighting challenges such as glare, spillover and skyglow.
Other interesting products in this market include the new off-grid Solar Vision Pole™ with LEDs by a company called Visionaire Lighting. It has many of the same benefits as the EverGEN series of solar-powered LED lamp posts; however, it possesses Wraparound Flex Solar Panels, providing green revolutionary benefits. Thus, they are more cosmetically-appealing and secure, since conventional flat solar panels are replaced by flexible solar material that wraps around the light pole, and the panels themselves have a 20-year warranty. Visionaire Lighting's 50 watt lighting source, which is relatively low in power and subsequently in light output, has been verified to last 60,000 hours total with 40 hours of continuous illumination; plus it possesses a five-year warranty. In addition, the product can be placed on a timer to adjust the power levels based on lighting needs and solar power requirements. In terms of the official Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system for green buildings, points may be obtained for a property in the "Innovation in Design" category.
The products discussed in this article would be options among many for small businesses, large companies, and government offices applying for various applicable green Recovery Act grant programs and would lead to desperately needed green job creation, as the nation's unemployment rate approaches 10 percent.
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