You would think it is an easy decision to use solar energy to light a sign. The technology has come a long way in the last ten years. Most of us have seen solar powered lights along the highway, a solar cell sitting atop a billboard, or a solar powered speed limit sign telling us to slow down. In short, solar works! But, when does it make sense to implement solar instead of a sign with standard power and illumination? And, what are the realities of the technology that need to be considered before you go ahead with a solar project?
We recently developed a standalone, off-grid, illuminated solar sign solution for Zipcar, the largest by-the-hour car sharing company in the world. The company needed to create greater visibility for its customers in its urban locations, and the application of solar made a lot of sense for two main reasons. First, using solar would be far less expensive than providing electrical power to locations that currently do not have readily available service. Second, illuminated signs would be more visible and easier for customers to locate zip car stalls.
A final design was selected that provided an in-the-round globe sign shape with 360 degree visibility. Solar power details were developed to provide enough power to LEDs to illuminate the globe during peak evening hours. These new signs can also be retrofitted to existing poles in the field at a minimal cost without the need to pour new footings or trench for electrical runs. This solution was a win-win for Zipcar.
Solar makes sense in many settings. If you are thinking about adding solar to your sign portfolio read more about the steps you need to follow to take your concept from an idea to reality here.
To learn more about signage, wayfinding, or other types of environmental branding please visit our website.
Tom Wilson is a Senior Creative Director on Monigle’s Environmental Branding team.