One of our clients owns a billboard in an area without power, where it would cost $11,000 just to bring power in to the sign. His solution was to use solar energy. He put together a system using regular 95 watt LED lights, two 6-volt batteries, and two solar panels. Total cost: $4,000 for the materials and $1,000 to set it up. Much more affordable than the $11,000 to bring power to the pole, and the $100 a month power bill.
The panels are mounted on the upper catwalk.
Solar panels still have their drawbacks, foremost their dependence on good weather. Solar panels work best in locations without cloud coverage (Lamar uses solar panels on their signs between Las Vegas and Mojave County for instance) but a sign like our client’s in the Pacific Northwest often has to contend with rain and overcast skies. Our client added batteries to cover these overcast periods. Despite the drawbacks, in the right situation—such as a sign without power—solar panels can prove much more affordable than the alternatives.
By Dave Westburg