Late 2013, the Projects Committee at Felpham Parish Council reached out to Solar Illuminations to explore the possibility of supplying solar powered street lights in several locations along the promenade at Felpham, near Bognor Regis, West Sussex. There were areas that the existing mains powered street light did not covered and therefore resulted in section of pavement that were very dark at night. This promenade is popular and attracts a lot of use from pedestrians and cyclists alike especially in the summer months when families and tourists visit the coast.
We therefore designed and engineered a unique solar powered street light system on a heavy duty 6M column that would only illuminate when the tide begins to cover the roadway. This system was based around our model SL12 solar LED street light. Adjacent to the proposed street light there is a white painted marker post with height positions from 0’ to 6’. Integrated into the solar street light is a float activated switch that is housed within an enclosure at the base of the column at road level. The enclosure has multiple homes to allow the tidal water to enter and leave. When the water rises to road level the float switch is activated and the street light turns on. It then serves a dual purpose. It illuminates the section of street at the very edge of where the flooding begins and also illuminates the height marker post so road users can gauge the current water level depth to determine if it’s safe to proceed. Once the water recedes the float switch resets and the street light turns off. The remaining section roadway onto the island has always been unlit and the council requires it to remain this way, primarily due to the extreme conditions that it is regularly subjected to.
The council members were concerned about the coastal environment and extreme marine conditions. It's not uncommon for storms to create high waves which crash onto sections of the promenade often bring up tons of shingle too. In the winter months, wind gusts can exceed 70mph in severe storms. Consideration was to be given to the batteries that we would propose and the painted finish of the columns, enclosure and hardware. Management from Solar Illuminations visited the site to conduct a survey and met with the council to discuss their requirements in more detail. Our SL15 solar powered street light was the ideal choice, primarily due to its aesthetic qualities and appearance not too dissimilar to the other mains powered street lighting in the area. It was decided that Optima Bluetop D34M high performance, marine grade AGM batteries would be supplied and although the standard finish of the street light system was black, the council would take care of repainting it a specific shade of blue to match the rest of the street lights along the promenade. Each system was to be programmed to operate for 6 hours each night after sunset.
In the Autumn of 2014, we supplied several of our SL15 solar LED street lights. Each system was fitted with a 15W LED luminaire, programmed to operate using a MPPT charge controller, with a pair of 12V 55A-Hr batteries and a 100W solar panel attached to the top of the 5M column. The SL15 system is unique in that it features a galvanised steel lockable battery enclosure that forms part of the base of the column. Due to the regularity of salt water being forced onto the surrounding area, each street light system was installed onto a solid concrete pedestal 50cm off the ground. Not only did this provide a strong and secure foundation but it kept the batteries and components high enough out of the way from any flooding or standing water.
Solar Illuminations revisited the site in 2015 after the project had been completed. Their installer had done a good job and the lighting proved to be very effective. Upon speaking with several members of the public just after dusk, they all confirmed they were happy with the look of the solar street lighting, pleased with its performance and efficiency and all of them agreed in saying it helps them feel safer using the promenade during the evening hours.