Solar energy is a smart, free way to power our lives. No matter the weather outside, you can use solar power to electrify your life. Fortunately, someone was bright enough (pardon the pun) to ask the question, “If we can use solar power to energize our laptops and cell phones, even our homes, why not cut down on the energy costs associated with traffic management?” In other words, what about solar panel traffic signals?
Turns out that PV solar panels can be installed on traffic signs to power flashing lights that alert drivers and pedestrians to conditions on the road. A Colorado company, Northwest Power LLC, produces solar panel traffic signals like the one pictured to the left that work in cloudy regions, as well as sunnier climes.
While out for a weekend run recently, I discovered a solar panel traffic signal about 2 miles from my home, shown to the right. On the front of the sign is a cautionary blinking light, signaling a busy intersection ahead. On the reverse side, a solar panel absorbs sunlight energy which is converted into electrical power. Excess energy is stored in a battery located at the base of the sign. Among the benefits to government (and, ultimately taxpayers) are lower energy costs for maintaining the signs and the ability to avoid running power lines and/or trenching. Of particular note is the fact that , overall, there are lower maintenance costs for solar panel traffic signals than ordinary traffic signals.
Solar power technology has spread to allow use of solar power to energize street lights, traffic lights and brighten road studs. Importantly, these solar panel traffic signals will continue to function in the event of a power failure, when the need for safety alerts will be the most crucial. With all these positive features, government agencies should be getting the green light to install more reliable, energy-efficient solar power traffic signals.
I have to admit that, since I started studying and blogging about solar power earlier this year, I now notice solar panels everywhere! Even in rainy Washington State, I still saw a number of solar panel traffic signals along I-5 during a recent visit. Look around your region. Do you see PV panel technology at work? How many solar panel traffic signals are in your neck of the woods?