Del Ridge uses solar LED parking lights as part of a comprehensive energy saving approach
By Robert Colman
Some lighting applications suit the use of off-grid solar to power them, and a number of companies are now marketing off-grid solar powered LED lamps in Canada. This takes the savings captured by using LEDs a step further by taking you off the grid altogether.
By Robert Colman
Thus far, this type of light has been a bit of a boutique buy, but those who have installed them are getting the sort of simple reliability that you look for in any system that makes it appealing.
Dave DeSilva, President of Del Ridge homes, installed 18 systems for the parking lot of his company’s Appleby Woods condominium development in Burlington, Ont. The adoption of solar powered LED lighting allowed Del Ridge to provide effective lighting, while eliminating electricity bills, as well as infrastructure costs incurred with trenching, wiring and paving that is associated with traditional grid-tie lighting.
“We have three projects on the go right now and all of our parking lot lights are solar,” DeSilva notes. “It’s good – you put the lights up, you pay for them, and then they don’t cost you anything. Your immediate costs are more, but not that much more. The overall installation cost might be 30 per cent more at most, but then your operating costs are zero.”
DeSilva takes energy conservation seriously. Appleby Woods was completed to an Enerbuild Standard using insulated concrete form technology, an R-60 roof, geothermal heating and cooling and much more. The overall energy consumption of the development is about 6.8 kWh per square foot per year – “which compares to Burlington Hydro’s energy goal of 15.8 kWh per square foot for an efficient building” DeSilva points out. His next development, GreenLife, is aiming to be Canada’s first carbon neutral building.
Del Ridge’s supplier for its solar parking lot lights is ProQuip International (PQI), which is the Canadian distributor of the Solar One brand of solar LED lighting solutions.
“We provided the Appleby Woods project with Solar One’s Basic Series, which uses three 800 lumen LED lamps in each system for a total of 2,400 lumens per light fixture,” explains Sam Tavernese, President of PQI Canada. “These lamps offer a type 5, or circular, distribution pattern. The LED lamps used in these systems are manufactured at the ProQuip International facility in Brantford, Ontario.”
DeSilva’s own team installed the lights, working with their supplier to optimize the position of the solar panels that gather the power to run them.
So what should potential purchasers be looking at when considering a solar lighting solution for their parking lots?
“One size doesn’t fit all, which is important to remember,” says Tavernese. “All of our systems are based on geographical location – taking into account sun hours for that location (the total solar resource you can count on), as well as average temperature. The systems are then designed with the necessary days of storage considered as per this data, ensuring that there is no compromise of light output — there will always be light. Despite our harsh Canadian weather, the energy management involved in the systems ensures that we provide light each and every night based on days of storage.”
Thus, beyond concerns about light levels, the main consideration is making certain that your system includes sufficient battery storage capabilities, that the solar panels are positioned optimally, and that the system is rugged enough to handle the local environment.
“Solar energy and LED lighting will continue to play a large role in saving energy and reducing the world’s carbon footprint,” says Tavernese. “The promise of solar LED lighting is effective lighting anywhere and anytime, making public areas safer, creating more useable outdoor space, protecting the environment and saving energy dollars.”
DeSilva insists that although innovative technologies can cost a developer more initially, the savings that come from adopting them can be remarkable. In the case of Appleby Woods, buyers didn’t shy away – it sold out. And with Del Ridge’s GreenLife project, operating costs will be something close to zero because it will include a solar array and wind turbine that will likely feed back into the grid – essentially eliminating condo fees.
“If you look at most condo developments today, it’s the same old lazy system — using R-4 insulation values and then saying they’re green because they put in Energy Star appliances or something,” says DeSilva. “They’re not getting the comprehensive picture. We produce a book called Enerbook, which explains how energy affects your life in a residential building. If you go out you instinctively put a coat on, but we don’t seem to want to do that with buildings. We just say, ‘what’s the minimum we can do?’ The best energy is the energy you save. Stop the waste of the energy. That’s the most important thing.”
Lighting is an important piece of that conservation puzzle.