Photovoltaic (PV) powered signs (solar-powered signs), can operate independently off the grid generating electricity directly from sunlight. Recent technological advances in low voltage LED lighting and thin-film solar cell technology are combining to make solar options a bit easier to digest from the viewpoint of electric sign buyers.
Science involved with the solar cell process dates back to 1839 when French physicist, Edmond Becquerel, discovered the photovoltaic effect. By the 1950’s Bell Labs of the United States had introduced the first practical applications, and today’s PV cells help provide power for many commercial, industrial, municipal and residential applications, including exterior signage.
I’m sure you’ve seen an electronic message sign on Virginia’s Interstate Highway System with photovoltaic cells angled to the sky for off-grid power supply. The Virginia Department of Transportation has been using solar powered signs for years. And we have used solar power lighting in certain sign applications as well.
Here are a few applications where utilizing solar power for signage in Virginia is practical:
- Powering signs in remote locations;
- Powering signs with critical functions during power outages.
Just ten miles away from our custom electric sign shop in Chester, Virginia, The Village of Ettrick in Chesterfield County recently chose a solar powered system that we provided to spot-light the village’s main entrance signs.
And not only town managers are going solar. Facilities managers of financial institutions, schools, shopping centers, and hotels are utilizing solar power options in certain cases. Hospitals are using PV technology to illuminate wayfinding signs so the public can see critical ER directional signage 24/7 regardless of remoteness of location or power outages off emergency back-up.
A few years ago, we were approached by a hospital about powering electric signs located in remote areas far away from local utilities. Their options were to dig super long trenches to the nearest electric connections or consider solar power. Both options were expensive at the time, but rapidly falling prices are making solar options more affordable. The average price of solar power systems has dropped dramatically over the course of the last six years, with a 33% decrease since 2011, making the costs of using solar to power electric signs a more viable option.
Some ideas for solar signs:
Photos courtesy PVI Solar
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