Since sunlight is the most important factor in the system's light output, solar powered LED lighting systems must be designed to capture the greatest amount of sunlight in any location. At Ember LED, we consider the following factors when customizing our solar powered eShine Series LED lighting.
It's a common misconception that solar powered lighting systems only work in the sunniest locations with the least amount of precipitation. While these areas are indeed ideal for solar energy generation, solar powered lights will still work effectively anywhere in North America. In fact, Germany is the solar capital of the world with half of the world's solar capacity, even though it has about the same amount of sunlight as Alaska.
The reason Ember LED's solar powered LED lighting can work anywhere is because we custom design all of our products to match a project's geographic location and lighting needs. For example, the solar panels on an Ember LED lighting system in Seattle may be larger than those on a system with the same lighting output in Las Vegas. Or, we might suggest a smarter lighting schedule or a few extra lights to ensure consistent, reliable exterior lighting. Regardless of your situation or lighting needs, our team of solar lighting experts will work with you to customize a system for your project that will work all night, 365 days a year.
Solar panels should always face the direction that will receive the most sun. This means that in the Northern Hemisphere, solar panels should face true South, and in the Southern Hemisphere, they should face true North. Keep in mind that true North and true South are not the same as magnetic North and South. You will need to calculate your magnetic declination if using a magnetic compass.
Solar Panel Angle:
As a rule of thumb, a solar panel captures the most sunlight when its angle is positioned at the location's latitude plus 15°. For example, in New York City, the latitude is 40.67° North. So, for an NYC project, we'd calculate 40.67° + 15° = 55.67°. It's typically rounded up, so a solar panel Manhattan might be tilted at 56-60°.
Since the sun is higher in the summer and lower in the winter, it is possible to adjust a solar panel's angle throughout the seasons to maximize energy output. However, Ember LED's solar lighting systems are designed to work effectively as fixed structures. So, we have optimized our solar panels to work consistently in one fixed position during all seasons. This makes adjusting your solar panels (and the associated labor costs) unnecessary. Adjusting solar panels really only makes sense when you are using them to power a building, because the small efficiency boost can make a difference in its energy bills. In well designed solar lighting systems, adjusting the panels will not change the light's output.
Solar panels require direct access to sunlight. Therefore, solar panels should not be placed in a shaded area, such as underneath a tree or in a building's shadow. Generally, Ember LED's solar panels are attached to the light fixture itself. So, for example, with our area lighting, the solar panel is mounted on the same pole as the LED light. However, in some cases, such as in a forested park, the areas that need to be lit do not have access to direct sunlight. In these situations, Ember LED will create a custom fixture that has a separately mounted solar panel. Then, the solar panel can be installed in a sunlit area and wired to the light fixture, which is installed in a shady area. So, even in a shaded area, exterior solar lighting is possible.