A Green Light for Solar Panels

Solar energy is free and plentiful. And it doesn't have to be a bright sunny day in order to harness the power of the sun to electrify our lives. If we can use solar power to energize our laptops and cell phones, even our homes, why not cut down on the energy costs associated with traffic management? PV solar panels can be installed on or near traffic signs to power flashing lights that alert drivers and pedestrians to conditions on the road. Northwest Power LLC, based in Colorado, produces Solar Traffic Signs that will work in cloudy coastal regions, as well as sunnier climes.
While out for a weekend run, I discovered one of these devices about 2 miles from my home. On the front of the sign is a cautionary blinking light, signaling a busy intersection ahead. The PV panel absorbs solar energy which is converted into electrical power; a battery is located at the base of the sign. Among the benefits including lower energy costs for the governmental agencies maintaining the signs, include the ability to avoid running power lines and/or trenching, as well as lower maintenance costs. The technology has spread to allow use of solar power to energize street lights, traffic lights and brighten road studs. Importantly, these traffic signals will continue to function in the event of a power failure when the need for safety alerts may be most critical. With all these positive features, government agencies should be getting the green light to install these reliable, energy-efficient signals.

Photos by Stephanie Hicks


  1. Here in Portugal we also have this kind of equipment to power some sos phones in the highways and also for illuminate some signs.

    In future this technology will be use in much more applications ;)

  2. how long till people start swiping these things?

  3. Well, I can tell you that this particular solar-powered traffic sign has been in its current location for at least 2 years (since I have lived in the area). So, as hot as they are for powering flashing lights and signals, they do not appear to be a target for theives.

  4. in Germany we have solar panels for parking meters e.g. and I'm a big friend of solar power because as you already mentioned it's free but one thing that people are afraid of are the initial costs to get it running.

    I haven't seen any solar panels for traffic lights or signs here.


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