John Girdham Place has new streetlights, and they’re powered by the sun.
The relatively new cul-de-sac has five new streetlights – each with its own solar panel and battery to store the sun’s energy from the day to light the street at night.
Council had funding to install lighting in the area and councillors voted to go solar after hearing from See Solar, a Parkes and Forbes-based company that started up last year.
Installation of the solar streetlights came in cheaper and quicker – not having to be connected to mains power - than traditional streetlights, Deputy Mayor Jenny Webb said on a site visit last week.
See Solar’s Rob Ehsman and Jason Robinson say the solar lights are more cost-effective in the long term as well.
Mr Robinson says the LED lights are good for about 100,000 hours – that’s at least 20 years against the old two to four years. They use lithium batteries.
There’s also, of course, the saving on Council’s street light bill which is significant.
Although timer options are available, these lights have sensors that trigger them to turn on when it gets dark.
They operate at full power for five hours, then reduce to 30 per cent of output for the rest of the night.
Cloudy days? That shouldn’t be a problem.
“We design our system for the minimum solar exposure in the middle of June,” Mr Ehsman said.
The lights do need maintenance – about a half-hour job every one to two years – they are built to tilt down for this so there’s no need to get a cherry-picker in.
The new lights also look different to older streetlights, and are designed to cast light to the sides and front rather than behind, so they don’t cast as much light into homes.
So what about the rest of town?
Council’s general manager Steve Loane says Council is hoping to use solar lighting in new areas as well as to install additional lighting around Lake Forbes – if grant funding becomes available.
Both streetlight-type poles and ground-level lighting – which the See Solar team says is submersible in case of flooding - are available.
Replacement of existing street lighting would also be dependent on grant funding.
“It’s an exciting option,” Mr Loane said.
“A lot of work has been done in the solar light space, the cost has come down from $8000 to about $2000 a pole.”