Solar for Lighting Applications

Arco Metropolitano, Rio de Janeiro—using Morningstar-powered towers to safely and efficiently light the way on Brazil’s vital transportation artery. > Case study.
RD Minas, Central and Latin America—solar powered lighting systems with Morningstar on-board provide safer working conditions while increasing output in 24/7 mining operations in remote locations. > Case study.
Jinhae, South Korea—solar powered street lighting for a newly-developed harbor district in the famous “Cherry Blossom City” of Changwon, using Morningstar solar controllers. > Projects.

Lighting was the very first application for electricity. Today, every corner of the world, every aspect of human activity, depends on lighting. And in a growing number of applications, lighting depends on solar energy—especially in the places where electricity is scarce or non-existent. From remote mines and farms, to the remotest corners of shopping mall parking lots, solar electricity is bringing affordable lighting to places where it used to be expensive or impractical.

Morningstar charge controllers are at the heart of solar-powered lighting systems, with many combining solar charging functions with lighting control and safety devices into a single, ultra-reliable and compact design, ones with features to meet lighting system user’s needs.

Select Morningstar solar charge controllers have:

  • Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology to extract every bit of electricity possible from the solar source, by converting extra voltage into useful amperage. Morningstar MPPT controllers have industry-leading TrakStar technology on-board for that purpose.
  • Full programming to enable a high-level of system customization. Faceplate mounted timer and test buttons allow for easy system/setting configuration for a variety of typical lighting uses
  • Load and lighting control for easy integration in lighting systems. Dusk and Pre-dawn settings optimize usable lighting during high-use periods while minimizing power consumption during unoccupied periods.
  • Communications and diagnostics capabilities
  • Temperature charging protection and advanced charging algorithms protect expensive storage batteries
  • Designed for trouble-free operation in extreme conditions. Epoxy-encapsulated circuit boards and 60C ambient temperature ratings to handle harsh environments including tropical, coastal and arid regions. Weatherized construction; no cooling fans to fail
  • Simple, out-of-the-box operation and easy installation
  • UL listing on most models
  • Safety features built-in, including alarm/fault notifications, mis-wiring protection, lightning protection

How It Works

How do I know if I need MPPT or PWM-type solar controllers?

It’s not a quality difference, but a function of prevalent solar conditions and location considerations.

  • Because MPPT (maximum power point tracking) controllers convert extra solar electricity voltage into useable electricity, they are ideal for areas where seasonal, weather and shading conditions cause wide variations in solar “harvesting.” Morningstar’s proprietary TrakStar™ MPPT technology is considered the industry’s performance standard. Because of their additional circuitry on-boaad, MPPT controllers are also more complex and expensive.
  • PWM (pulse-width modulation) controllers are the right choice for systems using 36 or 72-cell solar-panels in locations with consistent sunlight, minimal shading and no physical space limitations—such as at the top of light poles, for example. PWM controllers are simpler and cost effective as a result.

All Morningstar charge controllers, regardless of their technology or design, built to one industry-leading quality standard. They all have “over-spec’d” components, incorporate advanced electronic design and thermal engineering, and have no cooling fans to fail—unlike all the in-kind competition. Because of this, over four million Morningstars have been sold since 1993 and are the first choice for leading solar installers in mission-critical installations around the globe.

Solar Lighting Applications and Training

Learn how to choose the right PWM or MPPT charge controller for a variety of off-grid solar lighting applications.