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Improving the sustainability of construction lighting

Following a successful trial, Coates Hire recently invested in a small fleet of SMC TL55 Solar lighting towers. This new solar range supports Coates Hire’s commitment to sustainable equipment solutions and helps to meet the diverse and changing needs of its many customers across Australia.

Why invest in solar now?

According to Andy Boehm, Coates Hire’s National Product Manager for Lighting, demand for sustainable lighting has grown steadily in recent years. “Many of our larger customers now have emissions requirements to meet and solar lighting is a relatively straightforward way to make a difference,” says Andy. 

By mandating more sustainable procurement practices in tenders, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia is also fuelling this growing demand. “To continue winning and delivering major infrastructure projects, customers must now demonstrate that they are making sustainable choices for lighting and other hire equipment. Our new solar lighting range will help them to achieve these improvements.”

Finding the right solution

Sometimes Australia can lag behind other countries in adopting new construction technologies, but with solar lighting the local construction industry is streets ahead. “So far there has been less customer interest in sustainable lighting solutions outside of Australia,” says Andy. “Given this slow pick up of demand, lighting equipment manufacturers haven’t been particularly driven to innovate or to take new solar products to market, so we’ve had to wait a little longer for them to catch up.”

Although Australia is ahead in the adoption of solar lighting, Coates Hire has taken a measured approach to investing in this technology. “We trialled and considered at least a dozen solutions before deciding on the SMC TL55 Solar,” says Andy. “By not rushing to market we can be sure that this solution performs strongly for our customers in all of the right areas.” 

Most solar lighting towers offer cost savings by eliminating the need for refuelling. Solar lighting is also much quieter to operate than diesel-powered lighting, which is beneficial for customers working in residential areas. 

Reliability is another important feature that Coates Hire considered in its solar lighting search. “Essentially we are hiring out light, so if a solar tower can only run for 9 hours before cutting out then it won’t meet the needs of most of our customers,” Andy explains. “Brightness, or luminosity, and operator safety are other important factors that we considered.”

Coates Hire’s new SMC TL55 Solar fleet offers good reliability, no noise, manoeuvrability, excellent safety credentials, lower maintenance and a solid lighting output of up to 50,000 lumens. 

According to Andy, solar lighting won’t suit all customers or all projects, as there is still a difference between what solar and diesel can offer. But for any customers that do want to incorporate solar lighting into their projects, the SMC TL55 Solar is one of the safest, most efficient, cost effective and low maintenance solar lighting solutions available for hire today.

Watching and waiting

Coates Hire is taking a deliberately conservative approach to trialling solar, starting off with just 24 solar lighting units in a fleet of over 4,000 light towers. “Smaller investments like this make much more sense with technology that is still in its infancy,” says Andy. “If we invest too heavily in current technology, our fleet could very quickly become obsolete and would no longer offer value to our customers.”

“There is still a long way to go before customers can achieve sufficient charge to deliver reliable light output throughout the night” Andy concludes. “We expect this technology to advance quickly in the next couple of years as lithium battery and potentially hydrogen technology improves. We plan to tread carefully and watch this space very closely.”

Reach out today to learn more about solar lighting solutions, or find your local branch.


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