No power, no problem - Lighting Design NZ
No power, no problem

No power, no problem

New Zealand-designed solar lighting made for our conditions.

Words by Justin Foote

For most of us, when we think solar technology, we think of it as a relatively new development, but actually, its roots go back further than you may have thought—back to the Victorian era, in fact, to American inventor Charles Fritts, who installed the world's first photovoltaic solar array on a New York City rooftop in 1884.

Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that if the technology is almost 140 years old, why isn’t the whole world solar? Charles’ system was incredibly expensive and not particularly efficient—it was, in fact, only one per cent efficient. Not surprisingly then that almost 100 years later, by the mid-1970s, only six homes in the entire United States were being powered by solar energy.

Half a century later and the story is vastly different, advances in solar technology have come along in leaps and bounds, driven partly by a greater focus, globally, on sustainability. A focus that saw Tokelau become the first country to be powered entirely by photovoltaic cells, in 2012.

“The advances in both componentry and battery cells has greatly extended the life cycle of solar lighting, making it a truly viable option, especially for large-scale applications,” says Alecia Truscott, Sales Representative—Solar Lighting for Masons LED.

“Masons LED, is a New Zealand-owned company, set up eight years ago to provide the market with high-quality, commercial-grade LED lighting solutions—under the E-Stello Solar Lighting brand—specifically designed to withstand the harsh New Zealand conditions.

Featuring a compact, robust design, the Sentry Bollard 005 is ideal for providing orientation and for facilitating safe movement for pedestrians in a range of settings.

E-Stello Solar Lighting: from Cape Reinga to Bluff

“While Lighting Standards are fairly uniform across the country, individual councils may have variations within those that are location specific. Auckland’s Unitary Plan, for example, sets out very specific rules around exterior lighting in places such as housing developments.

“Opting for a quality solar solution is a great way for body corporate organisations to adhere to exterior lighting standards without incurring ongoing energy charges.”

Alecia says each of the 21 products in the E-Stello range has been rigorously engineered to deliver exceptional performance for all geographic environments.

“We offer a range of different products—bollards, pole-top lighting, wall lighting and street and area lighting—each of which is engineered for a different purpose and performs differently. Part of the service we provide is helping clients determine which will be the best luminaire for their specific needs regardless of where they’re situated within the country—from coastal environments to high-country regions.”

The Pholum Area S2L all-in-one solar light is designed to provide area lighting without cluttering the streetscape.

E-Stello Solar Lighting: exceeding expectations

As with many technologies, as solar technology has improved and the components have become more accessible, cheap solutions come onto the market, which usually don’t have a focus on long-term reliability and performance, says Alecia.

“The biggest misconception we face in the industry is that solar isn’t reliable but that comes from people’s experience with solar lighting solutions that deliberately use poor quality components not fit for our harsh UV environment, which all relates to a shorter life cycle.

The quality of the componentry is key. Alecia says Masons LED only uses A-grade photovoltaic solar cells in their products, ensuring that their luminaires have an expected lifecycle of 20–25 years.

“With solar, it’s all about looking after the battery. Some products use as much as 80 per cent of the battery’s capacity every night. The constant cycle of draining and recharging the battery is what causes the luminaire to prematurely fail.

“Our solutions incorporate the latest in lithium phosphate batteries, which are a lot more resilient and use, at most, only 15 per cent of the battery. Also, each of our lights comes with an integrated smart controller that monitors battery usage and slows the charging rate when the battery is full or ups the rate when the battery needs to be charged.

“Additionally, throughout the product range we have smart options that control the amount of light output throughout the active period. For the first two hours the lights are at 100 per cent capacity and then dim to around 30 per cent. When a sensor is activated the lights automatically revert to 100 per cent. Likewise, at around 4am, the lights will return to full output until the ambient light is sufficient to safely see by.

A high-performance LED luminaire, the Sentry Pole Top 008 can replace traditional lighting sources and is suitable for evacuation assembly point illumination.

Masons LED: innovation in solar technology

“We’re so convinced at how well engineered our products are that they carry a five-year warranty—or a two-year warranty for wall lights—which covers all of the components.

“Each of the components in every E-Stello Solar Lighting product is selected to ensure ongoing reliability and performance—guaranteeing the ongoing efficiency of your solar light. To assist with keeping your lighting product at optimum output, we recommend a yearly clean of the solar panel. We’ve tried to make this process as easy as possible for the end-user, so our lightweight aluminium pole lights feature a ‘tilt-down’ design to assist with maintenance.

“If you think your solar light is not working to the required standard, our technicians can check the solar panel output through the use of a handheld remote.”

Alecia says Masons LED is proud to have supplied E-Stello Solar products to a number of large-scale projects both here and in Australia and the company offers a consultation service for landscape architects, architects and developers. She says, they’re also happy to talk to residential end-users.

E-Stello Solar products are available directly from Mason LED or via a nationwide network of wholesalers. The company keeps good stock numbers and can usually ship to anywhere in the country within 2–3 days.

Learn more about the comprehensive range of E-Stello Solar Lighting solutions available for your next project.

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