Solarpost Solar Powered Lighting Posts At Portavadie Marina, Argyll

Portavadie Marina is one of the UK’s most modern marinas with berths for up to 230 vessels. It is set in man-made lagoon on Loch Fyne in Argyll, Scotland in one of the most beautiful locations imaginable.

With its superb purpose built facilities, the attention to detail at Portavadie is evident throughout the complex.

The contract to install seven solarpost solar powered lighting posts in September 2016 was part of the continuing development of Portavadie Marina and were specified by Stewart Associates, architects and development consultants based in Largs, Ayrshire.

The challenge

There are always particular issues when lighting outside areas at marinas, especially locations at the water’ edge.  There are the inevitable potential dangers of water and electricity in close proximity and the surfaces of many areas do not allow the laying of electrical cabling.  Portavadie’s northern location, it’s latitude is 56˚ north, and wet climate, it has an average of 173 days of rain, meant that whatever lighting was used needed to be able to withstand these harsh environmental conditions.

Solar energy is an ideal source of power for outside lighting especially where a grid or generator electricity supply is not available or, as at many areas at the Portavadie Marina, the location means cabling is not possible.

Portavadie Estates are committed to utilising a range of renewable technologies on the site with the aim of maintaining a sustainable development strategy. Brian Stewart, Stewart Associates

Both the reliability of a solar solution and its ability to provide bright illumination throughout the year and in all weather conditions were a specific concern and one that solarpost needed to prove it could meet.  One solarpost was therefore installed at Portavadie at the beginning of the 2015/16 winter. Neither the weather nor the latitude proved a problem and the solarpost met all the specification requirements.

 

The solution and installation

Solarpost lighting posts provide lighting from dusk to dawn.  There are two levels of illumination; a continuous lower level is maintained throughout the hours of darkness but as soon as the post’s sensors detect a person approaching the illumination automatically increases.  This two-illumination level approach not only uses the available solar power very efficiently, it also reduces light pollution.  This benefits local nocturnal wildlife as well as addressing any concerns of people living nearby.

Integral within the solarpost is a control system that maximises the power generated by each of the four solar panels.  During the day, light tracks across each panel illuminating and shading it.  The control system calculates the optimum power in real time and the charge taken from each panel is adjusted, so harvesting the maximum power for each panel.  In this way, the solarpost can use the low sunlight levels at high latitudes to develop enough power to meet light brightness requirements.

No rain ingress into the solarposts occurred during the trial; the solarpost has a IP66 rating which ensures the enclosure is dust tight and protected against powerful jets of water such as can be caused by waves crashing onto the lighting posts during storms.

Portavadie Marina has one of the most challenging environments in which we have trialled Solarposts and we have been delighted with their reliability and illumination brightness. Neither the wet climate nor the short days of a Scottish winter were a problem. Jamie wood, Managing Director of onthecase (UK) Ltd


The benefits

Solarpost lighting posts are providing reliable, bright lighting in areas of the Portavadie Marina where illumination was needed to ensure safety near the water’s edge.  Solar power was the ideal energy source for the location where cabling was difficult if not impossible to install.  The extensive research and development that has gone into solarpost technology has meant that the posts are able to operate successfully at a location with a harsh climate and low levels of winter sunlight.

The modern, clean and attractive design of the solarposts has fitted in well with the extremely high aesthetic standards of the Poravadie Marina development.

Energy running costs are zero.  Maintenance costs are minimal with only an annual light cleaning required to remove any surface dust.  The lights are sealed against any ingress of either dust or water preventing internal degradation.

Solarpost lighting posts have been designed and are manufactured in the UK.  They carry a three guarantee with an expected lifetime of in excess of 10 years.

Matthew Wood