Texas Tech University is going green while improving the safety for students by putting up solar panel street lights at the pedestrian bridge over the Marsha Sharp Freeway near the Ronald McDonald House.
A security issue was raised when students, particularly females, complained about constantly being approached by strangers with no lighting on the walkway near the Hope Lodge and Ronald McDonald House.
Texas Tech installed emergency boxes, but was having issues coming up with a plan to install lights. "It turned out it was very difficult to run the electric lines underground so we looked at another way to provide lighting and we came up with the solar lights," said George Morales, Texas Tech Physical Plant Assistant VP.
After looking into the advantages of the solar lights, Tech installed three to help up security earlier this year. "These are pretty unique. They last a long time. You don't have to replace a bulb for about 15 years, very low maintenance of course, you don't use any power and they put out pretty good lighting," said Morales.
Besides helping keep students safe, the solar lights saved the university thousands in installation costs and will continue to save them more than $600 a year on energy costs. Each light fixture cost about $8,000 but saved them about three times the amount if they would have put in normal street lights.
"It's expensive to put in solar lights, but by the time you combine all the labor intensity of digging ditches, putting in an electrical system and the maintenance you end up paying yourself back," said David Clark, Electrocom salesman.
The solar panel street lights can burn for 12 hours a night for up to five days without having to be recharged, and the LED lights can last around 13 years before needing to be replaced.
"We are going to look at this and maybe there are other opportunities elsewhere not only at the Health Science Center but on campus as well," said Morales.
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