Not long ago, you had two options when considering solar lighting solutions for your project. On one end of the spectrum was cheap, low quality lighting solutions that offered no warranty and were not suitable for professional use. On the other end were bulky, multi-component solutions that were expensive and very labor-intensive to install.
French Gerleman partner Light Efficient Design recognized a need in the market for solar lighting fixtures that were easy to use, reliable, plug-and-play, cost-effective, all-in-one solutions. So, in 2019 they launched the Solera LED Solar Lighting product line to develop them.
Solera has built its reputation on off-grid solar lighting fixtures but has recently expanded its offering to include hybrid lighting solutions that utilize both solar power and power from the electrical grid. In this blog, we’ll explore both options and detail the applications each is best suited for.
Off-Grid Solar Lighting Fixtures
For the past two years, the Solera brand has primarily focused on delivering off-grid solar lighting fixtures. As the name suggests, these fixtures aren’t connected to the electrical grid. They affordable to purchase and install and require no existing infrastructure. You remove them from the box, install them where you need light, and turn them on. Off-grid solar lighting fixtures are a great tool for adding light, safety, and security to areas where there was previously no power or it would be difficult to trench for power.
Off-grid solar fixtures cost nothing to run because they aren’t drawing electricity from the grid. But they have some limitations that make them most suitable for non-critical environments. The lights only have the sun as a power source. The lights will operate in temperatures as low as -5° Fahrenheit (F), but the batteries are unable to charge when the temperature is below 32°F. So, while some of these fixtures can get two to three days’ worth of charge in one charging cycle, when that charge runs out the lights won’t work until the battery is recharged. But because these solutions are commonly used in areas that previously didn’t have light, the 340 to 350 days per year they do provide light is a significant improvement. Many of the fixtures in this lineup come with multiple operating modes and built-in motion sensors.
RP-SWL Wall Pack, RP-SAL and SL-SAL-OG Area Lights
The two flagship products in the Solera off-grid lineup are the RP-SWL and RP-SAL. Both fixtures feature an all-in-one design with the solar panel and battery built right into the LED light fixture. They also both use an advanced liFePO4 battery that lasts for a minimum of at least 2,000 charge cycles. They turn on automatically at night and each fixture comes with a motion sensor. The fixtures are fully programmable by remote control to provide more light when it’s needed and save power when it’s not.
The RP-SWL is a wall-mounted light that comes in both 7W and 15W options. It’s a versatile fixture with a wide variety of applications since all you need to mount it is a flat, vertical surface. These lights have been used in parks, parking lots, and transit stops. They’re also popular fixtures for mounting above doorways.
The RP-SAL is an off-grid solar area light typically used in parking lots, parks, and transit stops. They are pole-mounted and come in 8W and 30W options. Solera also recently introduced the SL-SAL-OG solution, a newly designed off-grid solution available in a 30W version as a 250W replacement. This new model features a completely rotatable solar panel, and new battery technology allowing it to charge in temperatures as low as -4F.
RP-SDL Display Light and LED-SFL Floodlight
Like the area lights above, the RP-SDL and LED-SFL Solera light fixtures are built with the solar panel, battery, and light all in one fixture. Both are 20W fixtures comparable in output to a traditional 150W high-intensity discharge (HID) fixture.
The RP-SDL is a solar display light intended to project light upward or downward, depending on how it’s positioned. It’s a perfect solution for lighting up signage, billboards, advertisements, and walls. It features the liFePO4 battery that will last at least 2,000 charge cycles. The light provides four hours of 100% brightness, followed by 25% brightness for the remainder of the night on a single charge.
The RP-SFL is a solar flood light ideal for lighting signage, billboards, walls, paths, small monuments and garden features. It also operates at 100% power for the first four hours and dims down for the remainder of the night, but the battery on the RP-SFL can provide five to six nights of power even during cloudy charge days.
Additional Off-Grid Solar Lighting Fixtures
In addition to the fixtures detailed above, the Solera product line includes a number of other off-grid solar solutions including decorative bollard and post top fixtures, as well as smaller wall-mount fixtures and solar step lights to illuminate stairs for both safety and style at night. Most of the product innovations the company has introduced were in response to a specific customer need. So their offering is constantly evolving.
Hybrid Solar Lighting Fixtures
Light Efficient Design has recently begun adding new technology to their existing line with the development of hybrid products to solve for critical lighting needs. These products are connected to the grid, but operate with a solar-first approach to power use. Most of the time, the light fixture draws power from the battery that gets its charge from the sun. When that power is depleted, it automatically switches to the grid as a power source until the battery can be completely charged. This ‘best-of-both-worlds’ solution minimizes electricity costs while ensuring the peace of mind of a 365-day per year light source.
Hybrid 365 Solar Area Light
The Hybrid 365 product line introduces game-changing technology for use in areas where there’s no room for downtime. A s an on-grid version of the new SL-SAL-OG fixture detailed above, these high-performance fixtures have been designed with installers in mind. The fixture and solar panel are easy to install, and the panel can be independently adjusted to maximize absorption of the sun’s energy without affecting where light is projected. It offers multiple mounting brackets and lens types for a variety of installation options.
The Hybrid 365 solar area light operates in extreme weather conditions and temperatures from -40°F to 140°F. This revolutionary fixture has a DLC listing and brings solar lighting technology to applications that not long ago were unthinkable for solar solutions like rural roadways, highways, walkways, waterfronts, downtown areas, and school campuses.
Solera is currently offering the Hybrid 365 in a 30W version, designed to replace 250W HID fixtures. In June 2021, they will also introduce a 50W version to replace 400W HID fixtures and a 480v version later this summer. The company also has plans to release a hybrid version of the RP-SWL wall pack product later this year. That product will have a flex color feature, allowing users to choose from one of three color temperatures to fit their application and preferences.
French Gerleman is Your Connection for Solar Lighting Fixtures
French Gerleman partners with Light Efficient Design to provide a wide variety of LED lighting solutions for clients, including the entire Solera line of solar lighting fixtures. If you have an application you’re considering for solar fixtures, we can provide a photometric analysis to design a layout for the specific area, determine where lights would be positioned, and demonstrate the amount of light the new fixtures would provide. This can provide peace of mind to end users who want to be sure the solution they’re choosing will meet their specific needs. Reach out to your account manager or contact your nearest French Gerleman branch location to start the conversation today.