Conference Paper

Design of a prototype ultra-capacitor solar panel street light

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Abstract

The purpose of the paper is to describe and discuss the design of a prototype ultra-capacitor solar panel street light. The effect of ultra-capacitors as an energy storage device in a solar panel street light is evaluated. The design is designed to evaluate three systems of energy storage devices: 1) where a solar panel charges a battery, 2) where a solar panel charges an ultra-capacitor bank and 3) where a solar panel charges a battery and ultra-capacitor bank to obtain the most efficient energy storage device and evaluate the different devices. The evaluations show that batteries provide a constant supply to the load, while ultra-capacitors charge and discharge with a linear curve. The results show that it is too expensive to replace batteries with ultra-capacitors, but a combination of these devices will be a good solution as the ultra-capacitor bank can extend a battery’s life time.

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Technical Report
The project solar panel street light's aim was to design and develop a solar panel street light with a more efficient energy source than that is currently in use. Deep cycle batteries are currently used as the energy sources in solar panel street lights and need regular replacement and maintenance. Ultra-capacitors are good energy storage devices that have about 1,000,000 life cycles and it will reduce or eliminate replacements and maintenance of energy sources in solar panel street lights. A solution might be by replacing the battery with ultra-capacitors or adding ultra-capacitors to the battery. A prototype solar panel street light was built to mainly evaluate the ultra-capacitors as an energy source. Three different systems were built: 1) a system containing the current energy source in solar panel street lights (batteries), 2) a system where an ultra-capacitor bank was used as an energy source, 3) and a third system combining system 1 and 2, using a battery and an ultra-capacitor bank as an energy source. A lot of research was done on ultra-capacitors so that the implementation of the ultra-capacitors would be a success, as can see in the literature study. Not only has research been done on this component, but on each component that makes a solar panel street light integrated successfully. Engineering decisions were made on the used components in this prototype solar panel street light as researched on it has been done in the literature study. Solar panels, control units, energy sources, and lights used in solar panel street lights were investigated and sized for this project. The outcome of the project was that the ultra-capacitors charge and discharge very quickly. The 500 F ultra-capacitor bank that was used in this project charges within 50 minutes and discharges in about 80 minutes for efficient lighting for a 6 W load. It was summarized that the initial cost of a solar panel street light with ultra-capacitors as an energy source would be too expensive. A conclusion was made to combine the ultra-capacitor bank with a battery as an energy source as in system 3. So the battery's life time can be extended or a battery with a smaller capacity can be used together with ultra-capacitors. It is recommended to build a system such as system 3 for a solar panel street light that would stand in parking lots or besides roads to evaluate such a solar panel street light.
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