The Bulletin

Solar lighting company goes where installations aren't easy

Posting in Energy

U.S. solar light manufacturer Sol Lighting is finding a niche in communities worldwide that would otherwise be unable to afford to install streetlights.

You may not think that Haiti and the U.S. border community of Colonia have much in common, but both places lack adequate infrastructure for lighting. The cost of generating power or connecting to a grid is prohibitive enough that local leaders have sought workable alternatives. Solar power has proven to be up to the task.

Commercial solar lights are meeting performance standards, Sol’s vice president of sales and marketing, Matt Ellenberger said in an interview on Tuesday. He credits better LED efficiency and lower cost solar panels for bringing its products closer to grid parity. Some installations, like Colonia and Haiti, can have an immediate payback, he said.

It’s important to note that LEDs retrofits without solar power have a much faster payback, by the company’s own admission. But it feels that is changing.

Ellenberger says that another round of LED efficiency improvements is coming soon. Indeed, Philips recently reported gains that could threaten fluorescents. More efficient LEDs mean fewer solar panels and batteries are required – saving money.

Sol Lighting’s anchor customer has been the U.S. Department of Defense, but demand is rising among colleges, municipalities, and parks, Ellenberger said.

“There is a social acceptance of solar,” he added.

Sol’s upcoming products will include ornamental lighting (it’s already done one such installation at the U.S. Senate). The company manufactures all of its own components.

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More details on the Haiti installations:

— By on November 5, 2013, 3:52 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure