How to Size a Solar Lighting System
Sizing is a term used to describe the measurements and specifications of an off-grid solar lighting system, which is a system that is not connected to the main power grid. While this task may seem daunting as there are many details taken into account when sizing an off-grid system, our expert team of engineers will provide these calculations for you. Here¡¯s a brief outline on sizing a solar lighting system.
Unlike most grid-tied systems, solar powered systems are off-grid and naturally powered, which contributes several extra factors when sizing your system. Because there is not a one size fits all model to outdoor solar lighting, our engineers customize each project to your specifications. For example, we base our calculations on your specific location by longitude and latitude to understand the sun exposure in your area. Additionally, we base all of our estimations on the winter solstice, which is the worst case scenario for lighting projects. This ensures that you will still have light even when the least amount of sun is available in your area. In fact, our engineers have even optimized our lights to produce power in cold and snowy conditions for our Mammoth Lakes project.
There are four major steps to create your lighting system, including calculating the load estimation, solar panel amperage, the backup battery, and the inverter system.
Load estimation refers to the total consumption of your solar system. When designing your solar lights, experts consider how much energy storage do you actually need in Amps at 12VDC. They figure how much total Watt per hour you need per day and multiply it by 1.3 to account for energy lost in the system.
Solar Panel Amperage
An important factor when designing your solar powered system is to figure out the amount of energy each solar panel produces. To do so, take the total Amps required and divide it by the amount of sun available. Then, add 20% extra as a safety net for days with less sunlight.
Amps Per Panel = (Total Amps/ Sunlight Per Day) X 1.2
Since not all of us are blessed with bright and sunny skys everyday, a backup battery is essential when powering solar street lights. This battery should have a minimum of five nights of autonomy to ensure adequate lighting, with more nights available in the colder, northern regions.
To calculate your backup battery, simply multiply the total amps by the minimum amount of days required.
A solar inverter, or PV inverter, converts the energy generated by the solar panel into usable energy. Typically, inverters convert a direct current (DC) of the solar panel into an alternating current (AC), which can be fed into a commercial grid.
To make life simpler, our solar street lights do not include an inverter, as they are off the main grid system. Our team of engineers will ensure that you will have usable energy in the upcoming years when sizing a solar lighting system.