LED tech is providing cheaper street lighting for housing, by saving energy and reducing emissions. Intelligent tech can increase efficiency and improve profits in the property industry.
Lighting to meet environmental needs and reducing energy consumption
While new build housing developments continue apace to meet house building requirements, it means more street lighting is being installed at a time when stringent environmental and energy saving targets must be met and the need to save on energy costs is paramount.
Cheaper street lighting methods are clearly high on the agenda, and technology is the answer.
Expensive to light
Street and general public area lighting such as roads and car parks are predominantly lit by lighting technology that dates back to the 1960s; lighting that’s very expensive to run to the point where, in general, some 40% of a city’s electricity costs are swallowed up by street lighting.
A drastic approach has been taken – or at least experimented with – by some local authorities by switching street lighting off at a certain times, such as from midnight, to reduce the hours they’re on and so save money on running costs.
Naturally this has caused controversy in that some maintain it increases the risk of crime and makes unlit roads more dangerous to drive on late at night.
Other methods to save money have included switching off a certain percentage of streetlights – such as every other one in a given area or along a road – or dimming them after a certain time.
LED – the cheaper and longer lasting option
The move for cheaper and more environmentally friendly street lighting is LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology. These lights are becoming more common on cars and in the home and use less energy so create less pollution and last much longer than their sodium counterparts.
Companies specialising in street lighting installation are becoming busier installing LED lighting to new developments and converting older lighting to the newer tech.
Along with energy savings, LED lighting is far less costly to maintain than conventional lighting. An LED bulb on average can last for 20 to 25 years while a traditional street light’s life expectancy is three to six years. This saves drastically on not only the replacement cost of the light itself, but the associated costs of replacing it such as access, time and physical checking of street lamp status.
Making the switch
Some areas of the UK have undergone or currently have LED street light replacement programmes in progress. In Peterborough, 400 sodium lights were replaced with LEDs which resulted in a 50% reduction in energy costs and a reduction of CO2 emissions approaching 27 tons annually.
Worldwide investment in LED lighting is predicted to reach a general take up of nearly 90% by 2026.
Controlled street lighting to meet environmental targets
Despite LED lighting providing a significant energy saving and environmental advantage over older lighting, switching to the newer tech won’t in itself be enough to meet energy consumption and emissions targets.
In order to bridge the gap, flexible and controllable lighting will be required and this could be made possible through connectivity and using ‘intelligent’ tech such as wi-fi, IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence).
By connecting street lighting to control systems run by tech such as GPRS, 3 and 4G (eventually 5G) it will be possible to create not only highly adjustable street lighting networks, but lighting that can almost think for itself as to when it should switch on, off or dim itself.
This ‘intelligent’ control would be based not on just whether it’s dark or not, but also in other conditions such as heavy daytime fog necessitating lights coming on, or drastically dimming when there’s heavy reflection off fallen snow.
Motion sensors could come into play to detect when lighting should, say, be dimmed when there’s no activity or ‘turned up’ when motion is detected such as from cars or pedestrians.
How can ‘intelligent’ lighting control help save costs?
Independent trials of LED tech coupled with smart controlling found savings of 50% from just LED lighting could increase to 80% with ‘intelligent’ control tech added.
With savings such as these possible with LED and smart lighting control, it’s clear where the future of street lighting lies.