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Off-Grid Lighting Editorial

The following is an Article about (Off-Grid Lighting Editorial).
What is Off-Grid Lighting? by Michael Recker, CTO Wireless Environment LLC

LED lighting is very well suited for off-grid lighting applications. What do we mean when we talk about off-grid lighting? A connection to the grid is a connection to wired power from the power company like the AC power that comes into your house. Off-grid lighting refers to a light that can operate when it is not being powered by the grid. In some cases power from the grid is not available and in some cases it may be more desirable to use power other than that supplied from the grid.

There are two types of off-grid lights. The first type of off-grid light is completely wireless and has no connection to the grid. A good example is a light that runs off of only battery power. LED lights powered only by batteries are becoming popular because these lights can be installed anywhere without the need for a connection to a wired power source. Some completely wireless lights will have a method of energy harvesting built in to recharge a battery. For example, solar cells may be built into the light to allow the battery to be charged when sun light is available.

The second type of off-grid light has a connection to the grid and can be powered from the grid but it also contains a local power source, such as a rechargeable battery inside the light, that allows it to continue to operate without power from the grid. Emergency and power outage lighting applications are common examples of off-grid lighting. Another set of applications for this second type of off-grid light are grid-shifting applications. In these applications, there is a benefit to moving to local power for some period of time to save money or reduce the power consumed from the power company. For example, if a customer pays for electricity on a time of use plan from their power company, a light that stores energy when the electricity rates are cheap and uses the stored energy when the electricity rates are high may save money on their electric bill by "moving power in time". In a similar example, a customer can reduce the amount of power it consumes from the power company by using a local power source to power a light helping the power company deal with periods of time when there is a peak in energy consumption that puts a strain on their ability to supply power.

One important aspect of off-grid lighting is that to be effective some form of wireless control is typically designed into an off-grid light. One popular form of wireless control is to include a motion sensor designed into a light so that it turns on automatically when motion is detected then turns off after some period of time after motion is not detected. Other forms of wireless control may include radio frequency (RF) or infrared (IR) remote controls, as well as network connections and light sensors.

So to make quality off-grid lighting products, careful consideration of the off-grid power source, wireless control and LED light source designed for a specific application is required. If lighting manufactures can get these features correct, the future of LED lighting in off-grid lighting applications is very bright.