The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California has a goal of powering 50% of its onshore operations using renewable sources by 2020.


So, when nearly 3 miles of recreation pathways were in need of lighting, a solution that was cost-effective, reliable and aligned with this renewable energy mandate was needed.

Why First Light


The base ordered 261 of First Light’s SCL solar area lights for its pathways. There were several factors that contributed to First Light being the best solution for the project:



Any solution needed to withstand harsh desert conditions. Not only is everything housed in a robust fixture made from U.S. formed aluminium, every component has been carefully engineered and tested to ensure that it can withstand a variety of conditions.


In most solar lighting solutions, the part most likely part to fail is the lead acid battery. Lead acid batteries are especially vulnerable to hot conditions which significantly shortens their expected lifespan.


That’s why First Light products use lithium batteries that are much better at performing in more extreme temperatures. To be sure of this, we have ongoing controlled tests in extreme hot and cold conditions to ensure sustained performance. From these tests, we know that lithium batteries dramatically outperform lead acid.

Desert pathway with solar luminaires


Easier Install

Having lights that are powered by solar negates the need to dig trenches for wires. With a minimum average cost of $25 per foot for trenching, opting for First Light solar luminaires saved the base over $400,000 in install costs along the 3 mile pathway.


This is in addition to quick mounting to the pole itself, which often takes about 15 minutes or less and does not require any specialised tools.


Energy Independence

Relying on solar power takes away the need for power from the electrical grid, about half of which is produced using fossil fuels in California. This helps reduce greenhouse gases and ongoing costs while also making the lighting along the pathway immune to power interruptions.

Solar lights in desert sunset



The SCL incorporates smart, adaptive technology to ensure the most reliable performance available in a solar powered light. When weather or seasonal conditions are less than ideal for solar, the light automatically adjusts to ensure that the light output is optimized without risking failure.


Great Daytime Appearance

The familiar shoebox style has all of the components of the lights – solar module, solar controller, battery and LED light – in one self-contained, robust fixture. This greatly reduces visual clutter and gives First Light products the appearance of a regular, wired light.


Minimal Ongoing Cost

First Light products have a life expectancy of approximately 20 years with the batteries having a 8-10 lifecycle. Batteries are designed to be easily changeable and there is no ongoing electrical cost.

While other solar lights (pictured left) struggle in desert conditions, First Light’s SCL area lights shine bright all night, every night.

Repeat Customer

With First Light fixtures performing so well in the desert, the base has already made two follow up orders with our next generation SCL2 to light even more pathways. We’re proud to have been able help light the base’s pathways with a sustainable, robust option.