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Kastom Solar Garden Lights KE-801

Types of Solar Lighting Systems

Complete solar lighting systems range from small one LED fixtures at a low wattage to high wattage fixtures that can illuminate areas such as roadways and parking lots.

Small low-wattage systems are popular in installations such as home driveways, walkways, and landscape lighting. Commercial systems are not typically installed in these applications instead, these lights are purchased at big box stores and online vendors.

Larger lights, such as for roadways and parking lots, are typically manufactured to order. These lights are custom configured to ensure proper operation for the project and to ensure plenty of light coverage. These lights illuminate large areas and have a larger solar power assembly mounted at the top of a pole.

No matter what the application, if power is unavailable or cost-prohibitive, solar is definitely the way to go.

There are many other benefits to choosing solar lighting systems over traditional grid lighting.

Green Alternative

Solar lighting is a green alternative to traditional lighting using no power at all from the grid. This means that they don’t rely on the grid to ensure proper operation, ensuring plenty of light during brown or blackouts.

They also use one of the world’s leading renewable energy technologies. Solar is coming down in costs more and more each year, now making it one of the cheapest renewable energy resources on the market today.

Off-grid solar panels feed the batteries during the day to make sure there is plenty of power for the nighttime. Once the sun sets, the controller sees that there is no more charge coming from the panels and turns on the light fixture. The batteries operate the light fixture for a set time specified by the user during the development phase.

These batteries are completely recyclable and can be turned back in during the maintenance phase of the system to a battery recycling facility. Here are some great facts on battery recycling from Illinois University that explain the various types of batteries and the best way to handle them once they are spent.

Low-Cost Installation

Installation per pole between a grid system installation and off-grid solar is typically the same. The main difference is the fact that there is no reason to trench in traditional grid power as well as there are no meters to install.

Trenching grid power and setting a meter is one of the most costly parts of the installation of a lighting project. There are times when trenching can be even more costly, especially if there are major obstacles in the way, or in installations where the surrounding area is costly to disturb or fix, such as a newly paved parking lot.

Poles are set the same with grid lights as off-grid solar lighting systems. The footers may be larger with the solar lights as the poles are manufactured to handle the added weight and EPA of the solar power assembly.

There is no underground conduit running from the main power source from pole to pole. All wiring is located at the top of the pole, or on a nearby pole for some installations. The power is also low voltage which makes it much safer for installation and maintenance.

Finally, barriers such as root systems, underground utilities, or other obstacles typically causing issues with standard electric trenching are no longer an issue. You can just set the pole where the light is needed.

Maintenance Free

The systems are practically maintenance-free, especially since the use of LED fixtures has become more popular with a 20+ year lifespan on LED lights. LEDs have the longest lifespan of all fixtures on the market today.

Unlike traditional AC-powered fixtures, the use of photocells, the second biggest cause of maintenance, has been removed. The solar panel acts as the photocell using the standard controls.

During the day, when the panel is producing a charge, the controller understands that it is day and keeps the fixture off. Once the panel begins to stop producing a charge, the controls realize that it is night and turns on the light fixtures.

The batteries have a five to seven-year life span if properly sized. This means that every five years or so, a battery change, a visual check of the panels and fixture, and cleaning of any components are recommended.

Solar panels are cleaned by the rainfall in the area. If you live in an area with little to no rainfall, cleaning of the panels every year or so may be recommended, but for the most part, the 45° angle of the panels allows for nature to keep them clean.

No other maintenance is required on the systems as all other components have a life span of 15-30+ years.

Zero Energy Bills

Finally, there are no electrical power bills associated with utilizing solar lighting systems as they are completely grid-free. Imagine not having any power bill for your lighting project.

The upfront costs of a commercial system can be intimidating, but the overall savings can easily be shown when compared to the above reasons.

Additional cost comparisons can be shown by working with your solar specialist to see what the cost differences are over time. Doing a comparison of what would be standardly installed and the solar lights over the 25+ year lifespan can show you a big-picture overview of the project.

There are also financial incentives to reduce the initial costs of the solar system when dealing with commercial systems. Tax credits, grants, and other financial incentives are still very popular to have solar installed over traditional grid lights.


Next time you are looking to light up an area, whether it is your backyard or a large parking lot, look into solar lighting as your first option. This will make an impact on both the environment and the area you are lighting.

What other alternatives do you like for your lighting needs? Let us know; we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Reasons Home Solar and Batteries Is an Excellent Choice

1. Gives you control over your electricity

Home solar panels and a home battery can offer freedom from utility companies with predictable electric bills. This helps you avoid peak electricity rates and provides reliable backup power when the grid goes down.

Electricity costs across the country have risen by 15% over the past ten years, and this is a trend that’s likely to continue.1 Solar service agreements can offer low and predictable rates that are typically less expensive than your electric company’s rates, so you can expect, on average, to pay less for power when you go solar.

In some areas, solar-powered batteries can also buffer you from peak electric rates, or Time-of-Use (TOU) rates. These rates are set by your local electric company, and vary by time of day: Electricity is more expensive during periods of peak demand and less expensive during low demand periods. With a rechargeable home solar and battery system, you can avoid the most expensive rates under a TOU rate structure while further optimizing your energy savings.

A solar-powered home battery will also give you freedom from the next blackout. The United States has the highest number of power-outage minutes of any developed nation, which will only increase in the face of extreme weather events and an aging power grid. Sunrun’s Brightbox home battery system replenishes with solar power and removes the inconvenience, uncertainty, and expense of refueling a gas or diesel-powered generator.

2. Provides clean, renewable energy

Home solar is a clean, emissions-free, and renewable energy source. Unlike fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, home solar doesn’t release harmful pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions—like carbon dioxide—into the air and water supply.2

By decreasing air pollution, solar can prevent $167 billion in health and environmental damages and save more than 25,000 lives.3 In New York, a household that switches to renewable sources like solar panels can eliminate the equivalent of burning over 5,000 pounds of coal and the resulting carbon emissions.4

Home solar’s potential is immense. If we could capture all the solar energy on the planet for just one hour, we could power the whole world for an entire year.5 When you reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll help to eliminate harmful emissions from burning fossil fuels. Renewable energy technologies are the key to a cleaner and brighter future for all.

3. Increases home value

Another advantage of home solar and batteries is the increase in home value. Across the U.S., solar panels raise a home’s value by 4.1% on average. That means a home valued at $500,000 could get a $20,500 increase.6

Specific numbers vary between each installation and property, yet recent studies show an average increase in resale value between $4,020 and $5,911 for each kilowatt of solar panels installed.7

The price of an average rooftop solar installation and battery is generally recouped in the home’s sale price. Plus, households that purchase solar are rewarded with lower energy bills and healthy tax incentives that can cover the system’s costs multiple times over the life of its warranty.

The length of time that a solar-powered home is on the market often varies by region of the country. A solar energy installation will help sell your home 20% faster than residences without solar panels.8

The numbers say it all: Installing home solar panels is a sound investment. Whether you’re upgrading your home for a future sale or making it your forever home, property values typically increase significantly.

*These findings are based on home solar systems purchased by the household.

4. Qualifies for tax breaks and cash incentives

Many people choose to get solar and batteries through third-party ownership, allowing them all the benefits of the system for just a low monthly rate. However, others choose to buy their systems outright. The average cost of solar panels is about $16,200 – $21,420.9 Based on where you live, you can cover a substantial portion of the cost of your solar PV system and may even pay it back in a fairly short amount of time thanks to the federal solar tax credit, local rebates, net metering, and more.


Solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs, can help home solar system owners earn a return on solar. Some states set a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires companies that provide electricity to get a portion of their energy from renewable sources like home solar. To meet the RPS, electric companies can buy solar credits from home solar energy systems. Home solar system owners can sell SRECs through an aggregator like SRECTrade, which bundles up their SRECs and sells them to the electric company.

Net Metering

When excess electricity is produced by your solar system, it is sent back to the grid and the electric company must buy that energy from you. Consumers that sell their extra energy to the electric company then use that amount to offset their total electric bill. They can also draw upon these energy credits during times when their electricity usage is greater than their solar production, such as a heavily overcast day or during the night.

Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

As of 2020, you’ll also be eligible for the federal tax credit if you buy your own home solar system outright. The tax credit can reduce the cost of a solar installation by 26%, including a solar battery purchase.10,11 That means if you purchase a 6-kilowatt system for $18,300, you’ll pay $12,810 after you receive your tax credit.

The federal solar tax credit is scheduled to drop to 22% in 2021. After 2021, the tax credit is slated to be phased out. That’s why the best time to go solar is now.

State Tax Credits and Cash Rebates

In addition to the federal solar investment tax credit, states and cities may also provide cash rebates for your solar system to further reduce the cost of your solar system. The size of the solar tax credit will vary from state to state. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSRE) to find tax credits and rebates available in your area.

Performance-Based Incentives (PBIs)

Your state or electric company might also have performance-based incentives or PBIs. A PBI pays you credits for the electricity your solar system produces. The incentive rate is determined when your system is installed.12 Rather than pay you upfront, a PBI is paid based on your solar system’s energy production over a period of time. A feed-in tariff (FIT) is a common type of PBI.13

Tax Exemptions

Your state or municipality might also offer property or sales tax exemptions. Households understand the value of property tax exemptions. Purchased solar systems may increase the value of your home by up to $15,000 on average, so you’ll get even more bang for your buck if you decide to move.14 Depending on the sales tax rate in your state, a sales tax exemption could result in considerable savings if you purchase your solar system.

5. Costs have fallen

The cost of home solar systems has dropped dramatically in recent years, falling more than 70% in just the last decade.15 The cost of home solar batteries has dropped substantially as well.16

Despite falling costs, out-of-pocket expenses can add up. That’s why Sunrun offers a home solar service agreement to make renewable energy accessible and affordable to all, with a Sunrun Guarantee that covers you for 25 years. There’s no question that clean energy sources like home solar are what we need to keep the air clean, enjoy reliable power, and protect our communities.

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