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Featured Articles   21 December 2023


How to Improve Safety and Usability in Local Parks, Trails, and Outdoor Spaces After Dark


As the sun sets earlier and earlier during the winter months, people have less time to enjoy the parks in their communities due to inadequate lighting. In turn, adults and children alike miss out on critical health benefits that come with spending time outdoors, such as boosts in energy and decreased anxiety.

Parks and recreation professionals understand the challenges of making outdoor spaces both safe and accessible all year round. Relying on traditional lighting products, however, can be a costly solution to a simple problem.


While it’s true that upgrading to modern lighting solutions in public parks requires time and money, these enhancements are crucial for transforming urban green spaces into areas that are secure, welcoming, and sustainable for community enjoyment throughout the year. Discover how Sol works with parks and recreation professionals in hundreds of cities across the U.S. to deliver cost-effective outdoor lighting solutions that keep parks and other community spaces alive 365 days a year.



Increase Park and Trail Usability at Night


Even when local governments promise safe community spaces to their constituents, Americans have historically viewed parks as dangerous places after dark.  With increasingly warm summers and more and more people moving from suburbs to city centers, the National Recreation and Park Association expects a rising demand for parks to be open at night. However, a survey from the Trust for Public Land surveyed the 100 largest U.S. cities and found that most are closed from dusk to dawn regardless of demand. Solving Americans’ safety concerns begins with reliable lighting.


However, introducing reliable lighting to community spaces requires valuable infrastructure resources that some municipalities simply do not have the budget nor time for—despite the 100 largest U.S. cities investing $7 billion each year in parks and recreation. Since grid-tied infrastructure is not always planned from the beginning, bringing it to parks can often be too costly, resulting in parks dropping their projects altogether, despite the value the lighting would bring to the parks in the long term.


There’s hope for parks and recreation professionals who want to reimagine outdoor spaces for their constituents: Solar lighting actively avoids those expenditures with its simple, non-invasive installation, sustainable profile, and minimal recurring costs. Without the need for complex underground wiring, solar lighting fixtures only require a hole to rest in and remain disconnected from the nearest power grid.


This aspect alone saves a city countless resources, from labor to material costs. Additionally, this level of simplicity trickles down to maintenance costs, as solar lights by Sol do not require active maintenance for years after their installation.



Disconnect From the Grid at a Fraction of the Cost


Solar lights reduce environmental impact as they don’t require the extensive trenching traditional light fixtures do. Eliminating trenching means less costs are incurred since there is no need to bring electrical infrastructure to the area being illuminated.


On average, for a 1-mile trail, solar lighting cuts the cost of grid-tied lights in half.



Additionally, available tax credits and IRA-related federal incentives can lead to municipalities saving even more, with up to 50% of the cost of acquiring solar lighting being financed through Direct Pay by the Federal Government.


Even energy costs fall dramatically thanks to Sol’s independence from grid-based power sources, granting municipalities more freedom with their budgets.


The maintenance workload and costs are also minimal, as Sol guarantees a 10-year municipal-grade warranty. That warranty promises that the solar lighting fixtures will work as intended and remain maintenance-free for 10 years at a minimum.


But before those 10 years even begin, low installation costs ensure municipalities have a reasonable entry point with solar lighting. Sol has designed and developed products that are specifically created for use in parks and trial applications. The iSSL and UP all-in-one and all-in-two systems can be installed in less than 20 minutes—up to 5 times faster than competitors’ products.



Brighter Isn’t Always Better


As dark skies emerge earlier in the day during the winter months, strong sources of light are often necessary for residents to enjoy public spaces. However, the lighting requires strategic design and placement to enhance safety without disturbing local residents and wildlife.


To execute on that promise, Sol works with Tier-1 lighting manufacturers that provide dark-sky compliant fixtures, meaning there is no light spilling up into the sky and the use of 3000K color temperature in the LED. Our systems are also equipped with motion-sensing capabilities so that light is only provided at full brightness when needed, reducing energy waste or misuse. In addition, curfew settings can also ensure that lights switch off at predetermined times to minimize energy consumption and maximize cost-effectiveness.



Increase Safety and Usability in Your Public Outdoor Spaces Without Breaking the Bank


Sol has successfully integrated a variety of parks into our solar lighting network, working relentlessly to create a more welcoming, sustainable, and inviting environment for communities to enjoy. Through solar lighting, municipalities can uphold their promises to their communities and provide a safer park and recreational environment while slashing the required upfront and long-term costs, remaining sustainable and dark-sky compliant, and earning valuable tax incentives.


Do you know if the parks and trails in your area are underutilized due to inadequate lighting? Contact Sol to conduct a photometric diagnosis of your area and determine the best lighting solutions for your outdoor recreational spaces. Your community will thank you for it!


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