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Solar Power Illuminates Star Spangled Banner

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

National Park News

Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor is one of the few places in the nation that is mandated by presidential proclamation to fly the American flag continuously – around the clock, every day. This flag is a replica of the original Star Spangled Banner and measures 30 by 42 feet. For decades the flagpole was illuminated at night by two very large and inefficient incandescent floodlights.  The old system was recently replaced with a modern hybrid of solar and LED lighting technology.

To illuminate the flag, the park now utilizes 118 watts of clean solar energy compared to 700 watts of conventionally produced electricity. The much smaller LED lights and solar panels were strategically positioned on an adjacent roof and hidden from sight.

By contrast, the antiquated flood lights were located at ground level and infringed upon the integrity of the historic views of the fort.  Another advantage to the new system is that the LED lighting system produces a brighter light that enhances the colors of the Star Spangled Banner at night.

To accomplish this project, Fort McHenry's Facility Maintenance Division worked in conjunction with the Solar Electric Power Company a Florida-based firm, to design a  sustainable lighting system that would be sized to be concealed from sight, reliable in operation, and durable enough to withstand a coastal environment.

According to the company, this unique and successful application is the first of its kind in a historic setting or for the National Park Service.  As the park prepares for the bicentennial celebration of the Battle of Baltimore in 2012, the flag and its nightly illumination will become an even more prominent focal point not just for the city but for the National Park Service as well.

For more information on this project, contact Wayne Boyd, chief of facilities management, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, at 410-962-4290 ext. 301.


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