In an effort to stay ahead of the curve and move beyond oil, some companies are exploring light alternatives such as solar-powered outdoor LED lighting. And it’s none too soon given that if everyone on earth were to consume energy like we do in North America (and all accounts point to developing countries catching up to us soon in terms of energy consumption), the supplies of uranium (for nuclear plants), oil, and coal will run out in about 15 to 20 years.
Solar-powered lighting, therefore, has amazing potential to meet our lighting needs without reliance on dirty, limited energies like oil and coal. But as the LEDs Magazine points out, until recently, solar lighting was relatively expensive and unattractive. This was due in large part to their desire to plan for the worst case scenario: the shortest days with the cloudiest weather. As a result, the solar lighting of old was used mainly where light was abundant: near the equator.
Combining LED bulbs with solar collectors and efficient batteries solves some of these problems, making solar-powered LED outdoor lighting even more accessible the masses, at a lower cost in more-attractive fixtures, too. Some of the benefits of these new systems include:
- Better illumination: Fluorescents produce cool, efficient light, but because their beam angle is quite wide, they send light in all directions. LEDs on the other hand, produce directional beams of light which means less light lost.
- Increased efficiency and directability: LEDs can produce light when and where they’re needed, which means the solar panels and batteries can decrease in size.
- Long life: LEDs require very little energy to run, so the batteries can be smaller than with any other bulbs, and will last longer, too.
- All-weather: LEDs work well in all weather conditions, even the cold. Fluorescents, on the other hand, tend to perform poorly and have shorter lifespans when used in colder temperatures.
Although these are just some of the advantages to using LEDs in combination with solar-powered fixtures, it makes for a convincing case.