Portable solar lighting: the safer, the better

Saferoads’ new Portable Solar Light combines safety and manoeuvrability, providing a unique alternative for civil and road construction sites.Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Further to that, more than two million Australian households currently have a solar system on their rooftops.

Given ARENA’s evidence on the availability of solar energy and the significant number of Australians already adopting this form of energy generation, the proliferation of solar-based technologies is, unsurprisingly, on the rise.

Road safety product and solutions specialist Saferoads has embraced the solar energy trend in the construction and infrastructure market and introduced its new Portable Solar Light.

The light product consists of a hot-dipped galvanised pole and a 30-watt LED light with a 90-watt solar panel. It has a concrete base assembly rated for Wind Region A, as well as the option of a double concrete base assembly rated for Wind Regions B and C.

Both assemblies come with a hinged base plate bracket. Fork ports in the base mean the tower can be easily moved using a forklift and lifting lugs as an added option.

All in all, it’s a basic but efficient unit designed to be easily transportable and painless to move around site to suit ever-changing needs and applications, according to Paul Thompson, National Sales Manager – Solar Lighting at Saferoads.

“The Portable Solar Light has been a fantastic innovation. We want it to be as simple as possible – the simpler, the better,” he says.

While the product is basic in design, Mr. Thompson says its set-up plays to the needs of many semi-permanent civil work sites, especially where workstations need to be arranged in different configurations to suit individual jobs.

“The main benefit across the board is that it’s saving on infrastructure and the set up costs,” he says. “When contractors commence on site for 18 months or so, they’ll typically set up a generator to run a light source. You often have to dig trenches to get the wiring in for the generator, but all the wiring on this tower is built into it – there are no external parts to consider.

“One of the things we’ve also done is put in new, tougher technology, such as back-up lithium-ion batteries. These sit on the pole six to eight metres up in the air, and removes the risk of the battery being damaged at ground level,” says Mr. Thompson.

The Portable Lighting Tower’s capability to be lifted and moved around easily by a forklift makes it a practical asset on a civil construction site. “A company could use it for one job and then they can lower it and take it to the next job,” adds Mr. Thompson.

The lighting tower’s concrete base is designed as an octagon rather than traditional square base. Mr. Thompson explains that this simple measure helps to remove sharp edges from the base and mitigate risks of people or machinery accidentally hitting the base of the light.

“By not using a big chunky square-based concrete base, we’re trying to make them as user friendly as possible. It’s really about improving the safety side of things.”

Mr. Thompson says the lights are also ideal as an interim lighting solution should permanent installations need to be removed and replaced. “These types of things also save councils relighting a footpath when they’re replacing the lighting infrastructure, for instance.”

It also includes the option of a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera.

Mr. Thompson says he’s received feedback from customers commenting that unfortunately equipment can sometimes be stolen in the middle of the night on any given worksite.

Adding a CCTV component to the product was a natural choice, Mr. Thompson explains. “Lighting safety then also becomes part of the overall site security.”

The product was recently used for work at Northshore Hamilton in Brisbane – the largest waterfront urban renewal project in Queensland. According to Corey Baldwin, Development Manager from Economic Development Queensland, part of the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, the lights were a great alternative to help provide additional temporary lighting.

“We were restricted for time and looking for a cheap and flexible alternative to deliver additional lighting in a number of locations,” explains Mr. Baldwin. “The lights are working well in their current location and we can also easily move these around as required. I would recommend these to others trying to achieve similar objectives.”

Alan Berryman, Saferoads General Manager Lighting Products, says solar lighting product adoption is gaining in momentum, particularly in states such as Victoria and Queensland.

“I’ve seen a lot of them up in Queensland over the past 18 months, and there’s a very high uptake of solar energy and products there because a lot of councils are in tune with what’s going on in that solar sector,” he says.

“As the new technology comes out, we’re trying to keep one step ahead in the market,” he adds.

Mr. Berryman asserts that Saferoads Portable Solar Light is just the first iteration of its solar lighting range.

“Our expectation with this product is that the 30-watt version is just the first stage. We’re doing a bit of research and design at the moment where we’re looking at where we can put this lights out onto projects with fixed bases as a permanent option. We’ll be looking at increasing the size and the wattage up to 70 and 100 watts for larger projects.”

He says the Portable Solar Light, as it stands, caters more to civil construction works, but through future development, Saferoads aims to produce larger versions for major roadworks within the ‘V’ lighting category.

“We’ve got a bit more research and design to do, but the goal from the beginning with these lights was to make them as simple as possible and provide much more room for growth.”

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