Note to self: solar only works when the sun shines

I’m a big fan of solar PV technologies, but not blinded to its limitation. This story from the Buffalo News points out something that everyone — homeowners, businesses, government bureaucrats — need to consider as they try to “greenify” their operations. Officials in Cheektowaga are a little furious to learn that after 13 sunless days in a row the solar-powered street lights they installed didn’t work. The company that installed them — Johnson Controls — did disclose that the system can only go 2 days without sun before the battery packs with the lights drain. Who knew that December/January could be so dreary and overcast? Duh!

I guess it pays to think these kinds of things through.

One thought on “Note to self: solar only works when the sun shines”

  1. Hi –

    The lights were explored for almost 12 months on Gary lane. I was out there and saw many board mem bers there looking them over. They must have installed 20 different designs over that period. For the most part, they all worked. The other thing, is the lights are solar, so of course they need sun. I was on the street when they spoke about that, and discussed the fact that they could go 4 days, of basically NO sun. BUT, the big thing was, they also would gain charge during cloudy days or overcast days. So, absolutley sunless days consecutively are rare – even in Buffalo! The 13 days was a RECORD, nobody builds for records unless its life or death – and then even then they may not build for new records!

    Lastly, there are some things that could have been better, for example, they ended up putting the battery up top – I thought the samples where the batteries were onthe bottom were much much better, but it sounded like the town made that selection when I was out there. Against my opinion and a couple other residents standing outside. There were lots of options, the best were not chosen. Electric lights failed when the power went out, but these stayed on – lets be fair. They were also brighter, the guys here had measurement devices.

    But, bottom line, is they worked – until we broke a record – lets be real and fair and get this straight!


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