Green Frog Systems Proudly Celebrates 10 Years of Solar Lighting Innovation
David Wilson, CEO of Green Frog Systems stated “It’s with great honour that we announce that Green Frog Systems has crossed yet another milestone with April 12th 2021 marking 10 years in business and we couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished.
From humble beginnings in a small garage in suburban Adelaide to being one of the worlds leading solar street lighting and energy storage suppliers to many governments around the world it shows what Australian innovation can do.
Without the dedicated support of our amazing staff, agents, distributors and resellers globally, none of this would have ever been possible.
As we revisited the many milestones we have crossed over these years it’s easy to see what a journey it’s been and how the evolution in technology and a shift towards renewable energy is shaping the future for the better.
Finally and most importantly, we are so very grateful to our loyal clients who have put trust in us to help them find the right lighting solution for their projects using clean and green renewable options.
Green Frog Systems is awarded the Exterior Luminaire of the Year award for the Stealth with SAM solar light at the 2020 Lux Awards (UK) by a team of expert judges.
David Wilson, CEO of Green Frog Systems Australia, said in interview; “This truly is a terrific result for the Green Frog Systems and Acrospire Products collaboration. The STEALTH is a relatively new product to the UK market and has undergone significant technical redevelopment to ensure reliable performance through UK weather conditions. So being recognised with this award is a real accolade.”
The independent panel of judges consisted of experienced lighting professionals, designers and end users of lighting and for the first time in history the trophy winners were announced in an innovative, online ceremony watched by lighting professionals all over the world.
The judges described the Stealth as a step change in all-in-one solar luminaires. It features some of the most advanced technologies seen in this type of product, including a best-in-class mono-crystalline panel and a lithium-iron-phosphate battery, all combined with a sophisticated solar energy management system.
The standout feature that set the Stealth solar light apart from the other entries was the integrated SAM IoT hardware (Solar Activity Monitoring). This patented platform enables remote monitoring and control of individual solar lighting assets from a centralised access portal. The system is capable of real-time modification of operating profiles and live error reporting via secure cloud based servers on the cellular network.
The aim of the Stealth solar light with SAM capabilities was to build the most advanced, all in one solar light capable of the sort of high-end performance that was previously only seen in much bulkier and give it a contemporary, modern exterior. Something that did not look anything like a ‘traditional’ solar light but more like a sculptural element for modern outdoor environments.
Compact form featuring high quality components produce an outstanding result with this product delivering one of the most reliable all in one solar lights available which is being consistently chosen by city planners, outdoor architects and consulting engineers for its performance, appeal and ability to deliver illumination across a site while avoiding significant costs and ground disturbance when compared to grid tied lighting systems.
Lead Acid Batteries – AGM / VRLA
Lead acid batteries are a group of batteries that includes VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) and AGM (Absorbent Glass Matt).
The technology behind lead acid batteries was invented in the mid-1800’s and was the first rechargeable battery created that was suitable for commercial use. Today, it is still a popular choice for batteries due to its low cost and reliability, and is most commonly used in photovoltaic systems.
There are two key types of lead acid batteries, both identical in their internal chemistry. The most significant differences between the two types are the system level design considerations. The first type, flooded lead acid batteries, requires upright orientation to prevent electrolyte leakage, a ventilated environment to diffuse gases created during cycling, and routine maintenance of the electrolyte. The second type, known as a valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery, does not have the same requirements.
Both VRLA and flooded lead acid batteries have deep cycle and shallow cycle variations. Shallow cycle VRLA batteries are commonly used for automobiles, to deliver short, high energy pulses of power. Deep cycle batteries are best suited to stationary uses, as the batteries often discharge at a low rate over the course of multiple hours.
Lead Acid Batteries – Advantages
Lead acid batteries are a group of batteries that includes VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) and AGM (Absorbant Glass Matt) these battery types are often used in cars, boats and trucks.
When used correctly, lead acid batteries are long-lasting and reliable. They offer low self-discharge, among the lowest out of available rechargeable battery systems, but are capable of high discharge rates. The maintenance requirements for these batteries are low, with no memory or electrolyte to fill.
VRLA batteries specifically are affordable and simple to manufacture, offering the least expensive cost per watt hours. In addition to this, VRLA batteries are a mature, reliable and well understood technology.
Lead Acid Batteries – Disadvantages
Lead acid batteries cannot be stored in a discharged condition, and have a limited number of full discharge cycles. They are better suited for standby applications that only require occasional deep discharges. The poor weight-to-energy density limits lead acid battery use to stationary and wheeled applications.
There is a risk of thermal runaway occurring with improper charging, which causes the battery to rapidly generate heat internally and can eventually destroy the battery.
Lead acid batteries have a resource-intensive manufacturing process; requiring large amounts of raw material, which has a lasting effect on the environment during the mining process. The lead processing industry also generates large amounts of pollution.
Li-ion Batteries – Advantages
Lithium ion batteries are generally more reliable than other battery types such as nickel-cadmium and don’t suffer from the “memory effect” problem where batteries become harder to charge unless they are completely discharged first. Since lithium-ion batteries don’t contain cadmium (which is a a toxic, heavy metal), they are theoretically better for the environment and we are all for that! — It is worth mentioning that improper disposal of any batteries lithium or otherwise is destructive to the environment.
Batteries contain metals, plastics, and a variety of other chemicals that should never find their way into landfills. Compared to lead-acid batteries and VRLA batteries used in some of our solar street lighting products, lithium-ion batteries are relatively lightweight for the amount of energy they can store making them a serious advantage for portable devices and other applications that need to remain mobile such as electric cars.
Li-ion Batteries – Disadvantages
Lithium-ion batteries biggest issue is safety: Li-ion batteries will catch fire if they’re overcharged or if they short circuit or malfunction in any way the batteries heat up in what’s called thermal runaway, which can lead to fire or explosion. This problem is mitigated through the use of a current interrupt device or CID, which kills the charging current when the voltage reaches a maximum, if the batteries get too hot, or their internal pressure rises too high. This technology is managed through Green Frog Systems’ MPPT solar charge controllers that regulate the flow of current into the battery throughout the charging cycle including active over-discharge and short circuit protection.
Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) – Advantages
The key benefit of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery technology is that it has a high current rating and long cycle life, increasing thermal stability and enhanced tolerance if anything goes wrong. The overall safety of this battery type allows for batteries to handle full charge conditions when kept at high voltage for a prolonged time.
Ultra Safe LFP’s high thermal runaway temperature and optimum energy density make them the safest and most popular lithium-Ion battery system. Green Frog Systems integrated BMS removes the possibility of incorrect connection or installation that can be associated with independent BMS systems. Finally, lithium iron phosphate produces no explosive gasses during charge or discharge, unlike lead-acid systems.
Fast Charging Compared to AGM and lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries not only charge faster with a full recharge typically taking just 2.5 hours in a 100Ah battery at the optimum rate of charge.
Highly Efficient When it comes to the efficiency of lead batteries versus lithium iron, the choice is clear. Lead acid batteries typically store around 70-80% of the energy provided in a whole charge cycle. However, when operating in the top 20% state of charge and in hotter climates, this can drop to below 60% of the charge energy provided being stored during the absorption phase. This leads to slow charge cycles and wasted solar energy. On the other hand, lithium iron phosphate batteries store more than 95-97% of charge energy supplied and have no absorption phase leading to ultra-efficient use of the available energy and faster recharge times.
Longer Lifespan Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries last up to 15 times longer than budget flooded lead-acid batteries. With a 50% depth of discharge, more than 6000 cycles can be achieved. For most people, the investment in lithium will save time and money in the long run, delaying the need for a battery replacement in their solar lighting assets.
Lightweight They are up to 60% lighter than equivalent lead-acid batteries, making them a lightweight option. Their ultra-compact size allows you to increase capacity and maximise space. Bulky batteries can, therefore, be a thing of the past! This is vital in modern, sleeker designed solar lighting systems with in-pole battery storage such as the GFS-ASPIRE solar light range.
DID YOU KNOW ? : A 300Ah Lithium battery weighs about 27kg, but provides the SAME USABLE ENERGY as a 480Ah flooded lead-acid system that would weigh around 120kg!
Environmental Impact and Sustainability
We can all do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint and dispose of waste in the safest way possible. Another positive characteristic of LiFePO4 batteries is that they contains non-toxic and biodegradable materials. Additionally Iron and phosphate do not produce toxic gases when operating and do not contain any heavy metal materials that can contaminate if they come into contact with nature upon disposal.
Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) – Disadvantages
Similar to most batteries, cold temperature reduces the performance of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries and high temperature shortens the service life. LiFePO4 has a higher self-discharge than other Li-ion batteries, which can cause cell balancing issues as they age.
This is only avoided by using high quality cells and sophisticated battery management control systems. All our LiFePO4 batteries come with a battery management system (BMS) to protect the battery. These battery management circuits ensure the longest possible lifespan from this battery type with more recent product releases such as the DEFENDER-55 solar light making use of passive cell balancing technology to further extend battery life and reliability.
How Solar Lighting Can Make Our Communities Safer
A recent article published in the Morning Peninsula News highlights the community push for safely illuminated public spaces such as pedestrian walkways.
A local resident of Mornington Peninsula Shire, Victoria, launched a public campaign to have lighting installed at a nearby overgrown path that is often busy with pedestrian thoroughfare.
They are concerned with the safety of their local neighbourhood and are campaigning for a well-lit and maintained walkway to drastically reduce the risk of community safety being compromised.
The goal behind the campaign is to significantly reduce the chances of slips, falls and people lurking around by being provided adequate lighting and regular maintenance of the walkways.
Read the full article here.
The Hard Facts
Evidence supports this demand; Community Crime Prevention Victoria found that by having lighting in public spaces can be an effective crime prevention tool to improve surveillance and increase the risk of offenders being detected. In addition to this, people can feel safer in well illuminated areas, increasing activity, which can further improve secondary surveillance and therefore deter crime.
Further to this, a major study conducted in New York City found that the installation of street lighting reduced night-time crime by 39%.
The study, which was developed by the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab in conjunction with multiple government stakeholders, designed a randomized controlled trial involving 40 odd public housing developments, all of which had elevated levels of crime, and half of which received new lights and half did not.
The findings of this study have shown that it is possible to consecutively reduce crime and the local jail population, through the installation of streetlighting.
You can access the results and full report here.
The Bottom Line
Here at Green Frog Systems, we are strong advocates for illuminating parks, pathways and opens spaces with clean, solar energy to improve public safety.
However, the biggest challenge that organisations and businesses face with installing lighting in public spaces is the bottom line –cost.
One of the many benefits with solar lighting is that it eliminates the need for groundworks, saving local authorities and facilities managers money on installation and by reducing power consumption.
Thanks to solar lighting technology, essential projects that were previously deemed unviable due to high installation costs are now possible.
For more detailed information on how to design lighting for crime prevention, we recommend referring to this resource
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels work by harnessing the natural power of the sun; allowing photons (or particles of light) to knock electrons free from atoms which generates electricity. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic or solar cells that convert sunlight into a direct electrical current which can then be used to power electronic systems.
Photo-voltaic cells are created by using two pieces of semiconducting materials such as silicon, one piece of which is given a positive electrical charge and other, a negative charge, which then creates an electric field. Excess electricity generated during periods of sunlight can then be channeled to a battery storage system, and retained for use at night.
For the photo-voltaic cells to function, they need to create an electric field. This is similar to creating a magnetic field, where polar opposites create a reaction. Opposite charges need to be separated in order to make an electric field between the two slices of silicon. To do this, one half of the materials has to have a positive electrical charge and the other negative to conduct electricity.
To explain the concept further, manufacturers of solar panels will add phosphorus to the silicon on top of the cell. This gives the top layer a negative charge caused by having extra electrons.
Then bottom layer then has boron added, giving it a positive charge and fewer electrons. When the two layers are together and a photon from the sunlight hits an electron, the energy between the two layers forces the electron out of the photovoltaic cell.
Once the charged electrons are forced out of the cell, they are transferred along a set of wires after being collected by the bordering metal conductive plates. At the end of the process you have electrons that resemble regular electricity and can be used to power any number of devices and electronic items including lighting systems.
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline vs. Thin-Film Solar Panels
Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic or solar cells that convert sunlight into a direct electrical current which can then be used to power electronic systems.
Solar cells are created by using two pieces of semiconducting materials such as silicon, which is then shaped into evenly sized cells.
Solar cells can either be monocrystalline, where the solar cell is made from a single crystal of silicon, or polycrystalline, where solar cells are made from multiple different silicon fragments melted together. Below we explain in detail the difference between these two types of solar panels, as well as the benefits and drawbacks to both.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panel cells are made from a single crystalline silicon ingot, which is essentially a bar of silicon in its raw form. These cells are slightly more efficient compared to polycrystalline panels due to cells being made from a purer silicone source.
They also perform better in high heat and lower light environments, which means they will produce closer to their rated output in less than ideal conditions. However, they are more expensive to produce, and that cost is reflected in the retail price.
The manufacturing process for mono panels also results in more silicon waste than poly panels. Mono panels are cut from square silicon wafers with the corners shaved off, which creates a white rhombus shape between all-black cells.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline solar cells are created by blending multiple pieces of silicon together.
They are molded into shape and treated to create the solar cell. Very minimal amounts of raw materials are discarded in this process, making it more efficient to manufacture.
But when it comes to power capacity and performance, they are slightly less efficient at generating electricity. This is due to the imperfections created in the surface of the solar cells, through blending different bits of silicon together.
However, the manufacturing process is cheaper compared to mono panels, which means they cost less to purchase retail.
The blended silicon is what creates the easily recognizable dark blue cell colour. Upon closer inspection, texture and colour imperfections in the cells are able to be seen.
Thin Film Solar Panels
Most solar panels that are manufactured and used today utilise either monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar cells. However, there is a third type of solar panelling, known as thin film panels. Due to the way the panels are created, it is a far less efficient but much more affordable option suited to large scale projects.
This type of solar panelling is rarely used in domestic installations, as residential roof space often has a small surface area. In this instance, mono or poly panels are the better option to maximise energy production with limited available space. In situations without any space restrictions, thin film solar panelling becomes a more cost-effective option to roll out on a larger scale.
Thin film panels are created by meshing a thin layer of silicon on to a backing plate made of glass or plastic, the latter creating flexible solar panels. This is ideal for mounting to a curved surface.
N-Type vs. P-Type Solar Cells
In order for a solar cell to function and generate an electrical current, two pieces of semiconducting materials such as silicon are needed. One piece is given a positive electrical charge and other, a negative charge, which then creates an electric field. There are two types of solar cells that utilise either a positive or negative charge, which are explained below.
What are P-Type Solar Cells?
P-type cells are usually made with a silicon wafer coated with boron. Since boron has one less electron than silicon, it produces a positively charged cell, which attracts negatively charged electrons to it.
P-type cells are cheaper to manufacture and as a result, more widely used for solar panels. The downside of this type of solar cell is that it is affected by light-induced degradation (LID), which causes an initial 2-4% drop in cell efficiencies.
What are N-Type Solar Cells?
N-type cells are coated with phosphorus, which has one more electron than silicon, making the cell negatively charged. The benefit of using this treatment is that N-type cells are not affected by light-induced degradation (LID).
As a result, these are considered a more premium option because they degrade less over the life of the panel.
An example of a Green Frog Systems solar light that utilises N-Type solar cells is the GFS-STEALTH solar light
Majority of Green Frog Systems solar lighting products use P-type sells, which degrade marginally faster than N-type cell technology, but can still perform well for over 30 years. Most customers prefer to compromise a small reduction in efficiency for a more affordable module.
Green Frog Systems solar lighting are pleased to announce a joint partnership with CU Phosco Lighting (formerly known as Concrete Utilities). This collaboration between the world-class manufacturers will see future development of a range of co-branded products featuring cutting edge solar harvesting, energy storage and power management technology and CU Phosco designed luminaires.
CU Phosco Lighting is the longest established and premier exterior lighting group in the UK. They design and manufacture exterior lighting luminaires, floodlights, lighting columns and masts. Their lighting columns and masts range from 3 metres to 60 metres in height and can be seen on roads, motorways, at airports and ports, in shopping centres, housing estates and sports stadiums throughout the world.
CU Phosco’s founder Charles Albert Marques M.B.E. was originally from Adelaide, Australia. He enlisted in the Australian Expeditionary Force in 1914 to fight in the First World War and with his father he was sent to Gallipoli and France. After the war both father and son decided to settle in England where they started Concrete Utilities Ltd.
Press Release >>
Prominent solar lighting technology company Green Frog Systems is one of many companies and businesses that will turn the lights out on Saturday March 28 as part of Earth Hour.
Green Frog Systems is turning the lights off at their company headquarters in South Australia and USA head offices on Saturday March 28 2020 as part of Earth Hour, the global conservation movement. All mains powered lights at the Green Frog Systems Australia head office at 51 Langford Street will be switched off for one hour between 8:30pm and 9:30pm as part of one of the largest global grassroots movements for the environment.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) began Earth Hour in Sydney, 2007 and each year thousands of businesses and individuals show their commitment to the environment by turning off their lights.
WWF encourages Australians to participate in Earth Hour 2020 by switching off their lights for one hour to show their support for Australia to get back on track to meeting its international climate commitments.
Green Frog Systems is actively helping Local Government and businesses of all sizes to reduce their emissions by designing and developing a range of highly energy efficient, solar lighting systems capable of replacing utility grade street lighting, without an electricity grid connection and zero carbon emissions once installed.
The company also designs solar energy storage systems for Local Government on sporting facilities, public spaces and community assets. These systems provide power to multiple devices including irrigation controllers, communication towers and security cameras, further helping Local Government reduce its carbon footprint without obstructing the development of community assets.
Studies have drawn a noticeable relationship between neighborhoods that encourage after hours activities in public spaces by improving accessibility to them, with generally happier people, a greater sense of community inclusion and overall healthier residents.
For further information regarding Earth Hour you can visit www.earthhour.org.au or if you want to learn more about how to reduce, reuse and recycle your waste to help preserve the environment this article has some useful tips on How to Recycle and Reuse Your Trash for a Cleaner Environment.