Why Solar Street Lights Are Catching on For Businesses and Cities

solar street lights

30 years ago, if I told you that a watt of solar energy would cost about as much as what’s in your pocket, I would have been laughed at. Today, if I told you the same thing, energy experts would not only agree but tell me that a watt of solar energy would be cheaper than pocket change in a few years. 

That’s all thanks to advancements and developments in solar technology, particularly when it comes to silicon. But there’s an application of solar technology that many cities are starting to take advantage of because of gigantic benefits. I’m talking about solar street lights

A wealth of benefits are available for these lights, and I’m here to share with you how you can save big dollars on lighting by making a simple switch to solar. 

How Solar Street Lights Help Cities


The absolute largest benefit of solar street lighting is that it saves cities significant money. How much?

I’d be happy to explain. Outdoor lighting tends to be an afterthought with commuting and everyday life, but it’s incredibly expensive to purchase, install, and operate. 

On average, the actual materials for a street light cost about 2,000 dollars. That includes the pole, light fixture, and other smaller components. In comparison, solar light costs about 3,000 dollars. The extra dollars are invested into the solar panel, the electrical components, and the battery that stores the power gathered during the day from the panel. So yes, the materials for solar lighting are more expensive than traditional lighting because there are more components to manage electricity usage and flow.

However, traditional lighting requires proper trenching and a full electrical infrastructure in order to operate. When it comes to trenching, there tends to be equipment rental, labor fees, backfill fees, easement permits, and other factors that can alter the price per linear foot when it comes to trenching. 

On average, the price per linear foot for trenching can cost about 40 dollars. If your street lighting project runs hundreds of feet, it’s clear to see trenching for power can take an already expensive bill and raise it to even more expensive totals. Depending on the surrounding area and quality of soil, trenching can get as expensive as 200 dollars per linear foot. 

In addition to extra fees for infrastructure, traditional lights use utility power every night for their lifespan. A reasonable price per light is about 20 dollars depending on the light technology. It’s a safe average for the most commonly used lighting technologies such as high-pressure sodium, compact fluorescent, metal halide, and others.

If you consider all these extra fees, it turns out traditional lighting isn’t as cost-effective as it initially sounds. Fortunately, solar lighting is a lot more cost-effective in the long-run than traditional since they don’t require an underground electrical infrastructure or monthly utility fees to operate.

When it comes to finding cost-effective solutions to light streets, solar wins hands-down because there are several fees involved in trenching, wiring, and operation that you don’t need to pay with solar lighting. On average, a solar lighting project will save about 20 percent of the original cost of traditional lighting, but it’s not unheard of to save more.

Some project savings even go towards 45% of the total cost, saving cities a lot of money to put towards other projects. This alone is one of the largest reasons why solar-powered street lighting has grown in popularity over the past decade.

Green Energy

Solar panels produce some of the cleanest energy available. Using a solar panel to generate electricity produces no carbon emissions, and a typical lifespan of a quality silicon panel is about 25 years—that’s a fantastic lifespan to produce clean energy. 

In 2011, the US Department of Energy reported that 15 million tons of CO2 are emitted each year just by outdoor residential lighting alone! That doesn’t include commercial lighting, which is arguably the larger culprit to carbon emissions since streets and roadways need an abundance of high-powered lighting for commuters.

However, you can do your part to reduce carbon emissions by adopting solar lighting for your city. Coal-fired electricity is the absolute worst source of energy, and if your lights are consuming that power, each light contributes to global warming on an individual basis.

Why not swap to solar and stop using coal?

Solar Incentives

There are a wealth of incentives to adopt solar energy. They operate either on a state or federal level. A lot of the research to gain money with your solar investment has been done for you, it just depends on what you qualify for.


Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) can be sold to utility companies. Basically, if you have an abundance of solar energy, that can be sold for significant money gains. Be sure to check if your state accepts SRECs and if your solar operation can qualify for one.


Performance-based incentives (PBIs) are similar to SRECs in that you get credits for the energy you produce, but many require that you utilize specific equipment manufactured from your state. PBIs, however, don’t need to be sold back to the utility company. As before, ensure your lighting system qualifies for a PBI.


The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a diminishing federal tax rebate that gives you a certain percentage of funds back to you with your solar investment. For 2020, the percentage you get back for your solar project is 26%. Eventually, the percent returned will diminish to 10% for commercial solar lighting projects by 2022 and will disappear for residential projects. The ITC applies no matter where you live in the US, so regardless of when and where you install your solar lighting project you can receive at least 10% funds back.

State Tax Credits

Ensure to check DSIRE to see if there are state tax credits available for your state. Each state has specific credits available to earn money back on your investment.


The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MARCs) reduces tax burdens and increases returns on solar investments. Accelerated depreciation can reduce net system costs up to 30%

Regardless of where you live or when you have your solar lighting system installed, be sure to take advantage of these credits so you can reduce the initial cost of the system and ensure you maximize your total return on investment.

A Solar Energy Revolution

We’re on the brink of a national switch to adopting solar energy. The benefits are here for the taking, but we just need your approval to start on your commercial lighting system today. You can save money, earn money, and be a part of the future, today. 

If you want to learn how your company can take advantage of solar energy, contact the lighting experts at Greenshine New Energy today and we’ll give you a free quote for your entire project. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day.


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TAGS:solar energy, Solar power, solar street lights

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