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Using solar power to power Retail Cabinet Sign...help please!

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  • Using solar power to power Retail Cabinet Sign...help please!

    Hey all - I have some brick and mortar retail stores and on a new project I'm working on we are putting a large commercial cabinet sign on a part of a building that isn't ours closer to the main road (although the landlord has agreed we could put the sign there as long as we run our own electrical). The electrical run is going to be expensive and I was wondering if there was a solar solution where the sign could be plugged into something where the solar charges the unit during the day and then when it flips on at night, it would use that power during the hours that it's illuminated at night. It wouldn't necessarily need to be lit all night if there isn't something that could store that much power, but if it could run for like 4-5 hours each night that would be great. The signs are illuminated with highly efficient LED's so I can't imagine it would take some insane amount of power, but I have no idea of what solution might work and if it would be cheaper than the electrical run. I don't have an exact quote for the electrical run, but for the distance it must cover, I'm estimating it costing around $2,000. And I don't know much about the requirements (still need to get them from the sign guy and I'm not good on the electrical lingo), but they are requiring a 20 amp circuit for the sign. The sign is about 4 feet tall by 20 feet wide if that helps at all.

    Ryan

  • #2
    Originally posted by BrickandMortar View Post
    I don't have an exact quote for the electrical run, but for the distance it must cover, I'm estimating it costing around $2,000.
    That will likely be a lot less expensive than Solar. Operating cost will be a lot less expensive than solar.
    MSEE, PE

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    • #3
      Originally posted by BrickandMortar View Post
      Hey all - I have some brick and mortar retail stores and on a new project I'm working on we are putting a large commercial cabinet sign on a part of a building that isn't ours closer to the main road (although the landlord has agreed we could put the sign there as long as we run our own electrical). The electrical run is going to be expensive and I was wondering if there was a solar solution where the sign could be plugged into something where the solar charges the unit during the day and then when it flips on at night, it would use that power during the hours that it's illuminated at night. It wouldn't necessarily need to be lit all night if there isn't something that could store that much power, but if it could run for like 4-5 hours each night that would be great. The signs are illuminated with highly efficient LED's so I can't imagine it would take some insane amount of power, but I have no idea of what solution might work and if it would be cheaper than the electrical run. I don't have an exact quote for the electrical run, but for the distance it must cover, I'm estimating it costing around $2,000. And I don't know much about the requirements (still need to get them from the sign guy and I'm not good on the electrical lingo), but they are requiring a 20 amp circuit for the sign. The sign is about 4 feet tall by 20 feet wide if that helps at all.

      Ryan
      $2000 would get you a solar / battery system that could run a 100 watt load for about 6 hours but would require the batteries to be replace after a few years. It will run for half those hours if your load is 200 watts and will not light up at all if you have a couple of days without sunlight and don't recharge the batteries. Based on that 20amp breaker I would say your sign is closer to 1000 watts.

      IMO it will be cheaper to run the power out to the sign.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BrickandMortar View Post
        ... but they are requiring a 20 amp circuit for the sign. The sign is about 4 feet tall by 20 feet wide if that helps at all.

        Ryan
        If that's what is required you're looking at 10's of thousand for solar. Either get a sign designed for solar or run the wire.

        WWW

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        • #5
          The sign won't draw anywhere near 20 amps. Most commercial sign string leds are 12v's and are run on a 120v input-12vdc output 60 watts(5 amps) led driver. What you have to know is how many watts your total leds are and how many hours a night the sign MUST be on. Once you know those two figures you can find the right size solar kit to run it.
          The kit would just need to be a dc system no inverter needed. The leds work on a direct draw from the battery. PM me for help.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by BrickandMortar View Post
            The signs are illuminated with highly efficient LED's so I can't imagine it would take some insane amount of power
            Measure it and then we'll be able to tell you what sort of cost you are looking at. If it is a few tens of watts solar might make sense. If it is hundreds, the direct line is the way to go.

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            • #7
              Hello I'm considering doing a similar project for a cabinet sign, I expect the wattage to be about 100-150 and need a run time of about 5-8 hours. Could anyone point me in the right direction of solar panel/battery products to use for such an install.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by chris8topher View Post
                Hello I'm considering doing a similar project for a cabinet sign, I expect the wattage to be about 100-150 and need a run time of about 5-8 hours. Could anyone point me in the right direction of solar panel/battery products to use for such an install.
                Run AC power and save yourself a lot of money and heartache. To do this with solar will cost you roughly $3000+ with $1500 in battery cost you replace ever few years over and over again. It will cost you less than $3000 to run AC power and yearly operating cost of $300 to that greedy ole power company each year. Take your pick. $1000/year solar, $300/year greedy power company.

                Simple when you know the facts.
                MSEE, PE

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