When the lights go on in the parking lot at dusk, it’s increasingly likely they might be solar-powered LED lights, designed by Carmanah Technologies Corp. of Victoria.
The company has unveiled a new model of streetlight called EverGEN 1710, and the angled, streamlined plastic case has photovoltaic cells, rechargeable batteries and circuitry to power a bright LED fixture.
“It’s a solar engine,” says Philippe Favreau, chief operating officer of Carmanah, unveiling the new model at Carmanah’s R&D premises beside Victoria harbour.
The company was a pioneer in solar LED warning and hazard lights since the mid-1990s, and has shipped several hundred thousand around the world.
The streetlight market is probably 10 to 20 times bigger, Favreau says. Two hundred million mostly conventional light standards are in use worldwide, with probably two million new ones added every year, he says. It’s a big potential market for a new product like Carmanah’s EverGEN that doesn’t connect to the grid.
The older model was clunky-looking, admits Dan Ruscheinski, vice-president of sales. Carmanah got frog design of San Francisco to do a market assessment and help on the industrial design. Earlier-generation EverGENs are used by organizations such as NASA and Southern California Edison, at its San Onofre, Calif. nuclear power plant parking lot near Los Angeles. They also illuminate pathways along Dockside Green and Carmanah’s own parking lot.
Ruscheinski says the new model has optional motion sensors and lower power settings to reduce the draw on batteries at non-peak times. For example, the lights can be set for full brightness for five hours, then dim to one-third strength most of the night and back to full-on for two hours before dawn.
The photovoltaic panel can be adjusted to 15, 30 or 45 degrees depending on the latitude of the locale, which affects he angle and strength of the sunlight at the site. First shipment of the new product, which are being manufactured by Flextronics in Texas, is expected in March.
The price for the new model streetlight is between $4,000 and $8,000 depending on features. It’s guaranteed for a minimum five years of operation before batteries need replacing. The light-producing LEDs are good for 50,000 hours.
Fewer light poles would be needed with the LED streetlights, says Ruscheinski, because the fixtures have better light distribution.