Solar-powered lamps turn sunlight into night light

Solar-powered outdoor lights have been installed to illuminate Grand Junction Subaru. Fitted with photovoltaic panels and LED lamps, the new lights not only offer savings on utility bills, but also produce a clean, white display at night. (Photo courtesy Simplicity Solar)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Newly installed outdoor lights tap the power of the sun during the day to illuminate an automobile dealership through the night.

The lights constitute a first for the Grand Junction company that installed them and also represent the increasingly diverse ways in which solar power can be used.

Simplicity Solar installed nine outdoor lights at Grand Junction Subaru, located at 2496 U.S. Highway 6 & 50.

Two photovoltaic panels top each galvanized steel pole, generating electricity that’s stored in batteries and powers lamps fitted with light-emitting diodes. Solar energy is harvested even on cloudy days.

Batteries store enough electricity to power the lights for five to seven days.

“They work really well,”  said Jeff Evans, sales manager at Simplicity Solar.

Evans said solar-powered outdoor lighting offers several advantages over traditional lighting, starting with savings. By reducing the amount of electricity purchased from utilities, solar-power lighting usually can pay for itself within five years, Evans said. Additional savings is realized because no trenching is required to run wiring to light poles that operate independently.

At Grand Junction Subaru, the LED lamps require about half the electricity as sodium lamps and other types of lighting. Moreover, LED lamps produce a clean, white light that better illuminates the car lot and creates a striking display at night, he said.

The solar-powered lights add to what’s already a green operation at Grand Junction Subaru that includes a 20-kilowatt photovoltaic array on the roof of the auto dealership and more efficient LED lighting inside, Evans said.

For Simplicity Solar, outdoor lighting serves to further diversify product and service lines beyond roof top arrays for businesses and homes. Evans said he’s discussing the possibility of installing solar-powered lighting with several businesses in Western Colorado.

In addition, Simplicity Solar installs photovoltaic systems and batteries on recreational vehicles and boats. The systems run far more quietly and cleaner than generators, Evans said. “It’s a vastly improved way to go about it.”