Adding Lights to Swing Sets: A Beta Test

Several of the areas where we work are near the equator:  Uganda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Ecuador.  That means that their 24-hour days are evenly split year-around between daytime and nighttime.  Since it starts to get dark around 6 pm, we’ve wondered about adding solar-powered lights.

We recently installed a double-wide swing set at St. Christopher’s Mission near Bluff UT.  We decided to to beta-test a 12-VDC lighting system there.  While lighting is less important in North America, this gave us an opportunity to beta test and improve our system.

Installing the Solar-Powered Lights at the Mission.  Battery System is Located in the White Box on the Left

Installing the Solar-Powered Lights at the Mission. Battery System is Located in the White Box on the Left

The unit we are testing has: 2 Goal Zero 12-VDC lights; a 10 amp-hr battery, and a 10-watt solar panel.  The lights are daisy-chained and connected to the battery system with a standard lighter plug.  (We installed a second plug for use with additional features.)  The battery is protected by a controller equipped with voltage regulation and low-voltage disconnect.  The system is turned off and one with a manual switch.

A present concern with the solar unit is the weather resistance of the lights.  Possible future enhancements include a nighttime sensor and a motion detector.  The white battery box also needs to be moved to a more appropriate spot.  In the future, we will be adding rope lights.

Battery System Complete with Controller

Battery System Complete with Controller

The nice thing about the solar unit is that it can be used for additional purposes including:  more lighting (including spotlights), charging cell phones and other small electrical devices, charging larger batteries, etc.

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This entry was posted in "Green" Homes, Engineers Without Borders, Navajoland, Playground. Bookmark the permalink.

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