Carmanah Technologies is a supplier of complete airfield and helipad lighting systems. In this article, Carmanah's Sales Manager for Airfield and Helipad Lighting, Aaron Lockwood, talks about the key advantages of solar powered lighting systems for the helipad market.
Solar Powered Lighting
For a new helipad location, there are currently two default options: one is to use no lights and the other is to use AC lights with cable. Both have their drawbacks. You could use no lights at all, but landing in the dark is a real trick. The second alternative is AC lights with cables. These have been around for 80-90 years and they are very well known, but this kind of install is time consuming and complex.
The third alternative is solar lighting. This option is becoming more attractive as the industry has slowly moved from using incandescent lights to LED. Carmanah has sold LED lights for 20 years so we have a lot of experience in optimizing this technology and we are experts in making solar a viable option for lighting airfields and helipads. There are six strong reasons why solar powered lighting makes sense for a customer’s ground lighting needs.
Easy to Install
So why choose solar powered lighting? Installation is easy. There is no trenching or specialised work crews required and has minimal interruption to airfield operations. If you have an existing helipad, you can reasonably go out and put up ICAO and FAA compliant helipad lights in a couple of hours, without a specialized installation crew.
The second advantage is simple operation. Carmanah’s solar lights are solid state, low maintenance and rugged. Originally designed to meet military requirements, thousands of our solar lights have been installed throughout the world in very austere environment. They are designed to be ‘set and forget’.
Our lights have very simple wireless control systems. The systems have been around for 10 years. They are rugged and easy to use. Many airports and helipads have complex electrical wiring systems running at 5000 volts with multiple transformers. We offer a solution where there is no high voltage, no grounding systems and no cabling – solar is a simple and effective lighting solution.
Safe and Compliant Lighting
The third point about why solar helipad lighting makes sense is that it is as safe and compliant as AC lighting. All of Carmanah’s airfield lights are FAA and ICAO compliant.
A third party testing house has validated our lights, which is important because it is not enough for manufacturers to test their own products. This is how AC lighting, automobiles, cell phones and everything else works. Manufacturers provide products to a reputable testing house to determine whether they meet compliance. We do third party testing for everything. Receiving the third party report is the only way to know if you really are meeting the rules – and that means offering more safety for the aviator.
The fourth advantage for choosing solar helipad lighting is that the total cost of ownership is lower cost than a traditional system. While unit cost per solar light may be more than an AC light, the cost to install and maintain a solar-based system is far less than a whole AC system because you don't have to do any wiring, trenching, concrete, conduits or drainage systems.
Solar helipad lighting makes sense in particular where the grid is poor. If you have poor access to electricity, then it is going to be difficult to build a traditional AC helipad. We have many years of experience installing reliable airfield lighting systems in remote locations, globally.
Rapid Set-Up in Emergencies or Remote Locations
Another advantage of solar helipad lighting is that it can be installed rapidly. Our lights are portable, rugged and can be used over a long period of time. Normally lights are installed permanently but quite a few customers use them for temporary applications as well. Some examples of temporary applications include military, mining sites, oil and gas, governments and personal use. Solar lighting allows temporary helipads to be installed on grass, sand or other terrain without high costs associated with permanent installations. This is a good solution for the military and many civilian customers. Portability is of key importance to the military market. It is essential that they can take a solar light and put it anywhere.
Lastly, solar helipad lighting is a green technology. This is important to many customers, as it enables them to reduce their grid consumption. Many of our key markets often run lights off generators. Solar helipad lights can reduce dependency on diesel generators. A Carmanah solar light can be installed and left for over 5 years before a battery replacement is needed.
Traditional airports, heliports and helipads consume a lot of power, so anything they can do to reduce their power consumption is a huge bonus for them. Many clients have sustainability targets and choosing Carmanah products helps them meet their green goals.
The reasons to install solar powered airfield and helipad lighting systems are significant. In summary, they are:
- Easy to install
- Simple to operate
- Safe and compliant
- Low cost solution
- Rapid deployment, even in remote locations
- Green technology reduces power consumption
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