Last January, as the holiday decorations were coming down from Main Streets across Vermont, officials in Randolph began shopping around for some new decorations. They decided it would also be a good time to upgrade to some new, greener technology.
“Randolph’s holiday decorations had come to the end of their useful life, and we were striving to find something that was environmentally friendly, and did not require the use of extension cords, light bulb strings or rely on power from town street poles,” explained Emma Schumann, director of the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Every company we called told us the technology was just not available yet.”
Unwilling to take no for an answer, the chamber contacted Bill McGrath, president of the Randolph-based company LEDdynamics. McGrath accepted the challenge, and created for the town an LED lighting system powered by individually mounted solar panels and battery packs. The system also includes light sensors and an automatic timing mechanism.
“There were many challenges,” McGrath explained, “but we are very happy with the outcome of the project.”
Now the 40 wreaths that adorn Randolph's Main Street automatically light up at night. And although they hang from light posts, they are completely off the grid. Schumann said she believes the town's solar powered wreaths are the first of their kind. And while Randolph pilots the technology this holiday season, LEDdynamics hopes to create similar systems for other towns and businesses in the years to come.
Schumann said the project to create the prototype was a true community effort. The Chamber received financial support from many donating companies. Randolph Technical Career Center students in the Building Trades program drilled the holes into the solar frames needed for attaching the solar systems onto the street poles. Several Town of Randolph workers provided assistance in mounting the wreaths and systems, as did Randolph Technical Career Center students in the Public Safety program. And local residents Zina Dana and Kelly Pellegrino made the pine wreaths.
“It was a real community effort, resulting in a great product,” said Schumann. “We are very happy everyone pulled together to make it happen.”