At Carmanah, we have used our 20-plus years of experience to perfect our flashing beacons, which are available in both solar and AC versions. Solar-powered traffic beacons have fast become the preferred choice for crosswalks, school zones, and warning signs, but there are times when AC-powered systems make sense.

When would I choose solar over AC power—or vice versa?

Solar and AC are both viable power supplies for flashing beacons, but sometimes, one may be more practical, cost-effective, or efficient in a given location. Anything from shading to intensity requirements to beacon usage to distance from the power grid will affect which solution is best for a given project. Here are a few reasons you might choose one or the other.

Top 3 reasons to choose solar flashing beacons

 

Looking for easy and low-cost installation: When installation must be done quickly and affordably, solar is a good choice because, unlike AC, it requires no trenching for power, no metering, and can be installed by one or two people without extensive equipment. Solar is safe, simple, and reliable.
Distance to existing electrical infrastructure: Solar is the better choice if there is no existing electrical infrastructure at the site, especially if trenching is required, which would make the cost to connect the beacon to the AC grid more expensive than the cost of the solar-powered version. As well, installing a solar solution does not inhibit vehicular traffic since the road is unmodified, and it does not damage the landscape.
Sustainability initiatives are in place: When a municipality or project requires that certain sustainability requirements are met, solar-powered beacons are an easy-to-implement way to attain those goals. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) encourages solar-powered beacons, where possible.

 


Top 3 reasons to choose AC flashing beacons

 

AC power is readily available: Choose AC if a metered grid connection is right on the pole, often the case if the beacon is being added at an existing pole with overhead lights or other traffic equipment.
Location is heavily shaded: AC will be more reliable if there wouldn’t be enough sunlight reaching the solar panel to keep the battery charged during the worst winter weather. The best way to determine if shading is a problem is for Carmanah to conduct a free assessment and provide you with our site-specific Energy Balance Report™ (EBR).
Location, application, or conditions dictate AC requirement: A combination of factors can reduce the cost effectiveness of solar. A crosswalk with heavy foot traffic in combination with heavy shading may make a reliable solar-powered solution too large for the existing pole or not cost effective; likewise, if certain light levels must be met for a school zone location with long hours of operation, it might make solar less cost-effective than AC.

 

 


Every project is different. Contact us today and we’ll walk through your project specs together to find the best solution—whether solar or AC—for your location and application.

Contact us to learn more

 

How solar power works for traffic products

How does solar power work in a traffic beacon? It’s all about energy in and energy out. Hover over the diagram below to see how each step works.

Learn About Carmanah

Every superhero needs a team behind the scenes that helps them save the world. We like to think we’re the Alfred to your Batman; the Kato to your Green Hornet; the Jarvis to your Iron Man. We spend our time working with traffic heroes like you to ensure we’re providing sustainable, reliable solutions for your traffic applications, from school zones to crosswalks to road signs. Whether your mission is improving walkability, slowing down traffic, or ensuring a sign can be seen, we’re here to help you do it. And we’ll help you in any location, while also meeting MUTCD regulations, ITE requirements, or other specifications.

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