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Solar Street and Parking Lot Light ROI Analysis

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Solar Street & Parking Lot Light Analysis: Financial and Environmental Returns

Generally when I think about a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis, I think about it purely in financial terms. Meaning, I estimate how long it will take for me to make money or break even over my initial investment. What I love about solar products is that in addition to the return you see on your financial investment, you can also measure huge environment returns. Let’s look at solar street and parking lot lights.

Environmental ROI

There are currently over 34 million streetlights within the United States alone. When compared to a traditional streetlight, each solar streetlight saves about 1 ton of CO2 per year. To put this into perspective, the average CO2 emission for a vehicle in the USA is 4.8 tons per vehicle per year. Meaning that the savings in CO2 emissions from 5 streetlights is equivalent to taking 1 vehicle off the road. Imagine that impact on a national level.

Financial ROI

While some customers are hesitant due to the higher upfront capital costs of solar street or parking lot lights, these are typically more than off-set by the significantly lower cost of installation when compared to grid-tied alternatives (think about trenching costs, cabling, junction boxes, etc.).

In working with one of our customers in a southern coastal state recently, we were asked to help them prepare a 10-year operating cost model for one of the solar streetlights we had proposed. When we completed the analysis I was very pleased to find out they would also save in their 10-year operating costs with the solar streetlights compared to their grid-tied alternative.

Operating cost analysis is as follows:

While every use case may vary, this is a standard customer example that we see come across our desks.

Given the many advancements and level of ongoing research and commercialization still occurring in solar systems I would expect this trend to continue. Efficiency ratings in solar cells and the overall cost of solar modules continues to improve. New and exciting battery technologies continue to lower the overall cost of energy storage and the duration in which a battery of the same size can power a particular appliance, or luminaire in this case. LED technology continues to advance in terms of clarity, brightness, color and energy consumption. All-in-all, this is a very exciting time in solar lighting for both financial and environmental impact returns.

Solar Sphere, Inc. is a leading provider of alternative energy products with a special emphasis in solar lighting applications. We represent products from over 40 different manufacturers and would enjoy an opportunity to help assist you in finding the right products for your project. Please contact us at 877-774-3730 or at