A Capital Investment

By Jim Romeo | Apr 15, 2020




Wilmington, Del., is getting brighter and better thanks to smarter lighting. The city has a bold, aggressive plan to install LED lighting. Through its SMART City LED streetlight program, and with city council concurrence, Wilmington is moving forward to put LED smart node streetlights on all of the city’s 1,700 lighting poles.

Wilmington is emblematic of many cities embracing technology and enhancing their digital infrastructure. The project is expected to reduce maintenance time and costs for Wilmington’s streetlights and improve safety and security for all of the neighborhoods within the program’s boundaries.

The new lighting will provide greater visibility at night and reduce annual energy consumption. The investment is anticipated to result in a reduction of 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity consumption. It will also reduce 706 metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

Improving quality of life

Other communities, big and small, are including smart lighting in efforts to improve quality of life. For example, Watermark Retirement Communities,’ Tucson, Ariz., which manages 58 retirement communities nationwide, has decided to commission smart lighting in its communities’ interiors to provide circadian lighting.

Circadian lighting attempts to positively influence physical and intellectual health as well as emotional and spiritual well-being, which is supposed to coordinate with the 24-hour light cycle and biological rhythms. By using certain types of lamps, and carefully designed automation systems, circadian lighting will regulate the amount of light patients are exposed to each day.

A growth market

The exterior and interior smart lighting market continues to grow at a robust pace. According to the research firm Global Market Insights, Selbyville, Del., smart lighting is expected to grow from about $7.5 billion in 2018 to more than $23 billion in 2025. The researchers say LED lighting accounts for more than 40% of the general lighting market. They expect the number to exceed 80% by 2025. This will be driven by government initiatives pushing communities to adopt energy-efficient lighting technologies, and the advancement of new LED lamps, which are becoming more affordable and have better performance characteristics.

Goldman Sachs predicts that LED lighting alone is rapidly penetrating the lighting market. It has grown from a mere 0.3% of the overall lighting market in 2010 to a purported 61% by 2020.

“The increasing adoption and decreasing cost of LEDs are driving the market. The high luminous efficacy, reduced energy use, greater lifespan and decreasing average selling price of the LED lighting products compel the consumers to switch to LED technology,” according to a report from market research firm Mordor Intelligence, Hyderabad, India.

This is good news for electrical contractors, who would be wise to know and understand the technology and its limitations and become adept at installing smart lighting systems.

Return on investment

Smart lighting offers an attractive return on investment. If managed properly, a smart lighting installation can pay for itself. A capital investment may be returned over time from energy savings alone. Additionally, government programs offer grants, loans and incentives to get smart lighting programs installed; they help reduce crime and improve cities’ and facilities’ carbon footprints.

Wilmington’s SMART City LED program is quite upbeat nowadays. The city funded it with a $2.1 million loan from the efficient energy investment fund, which is administered by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The city expects to reap $150,000 per year in energy consumption savings for a total of $3 million over the 20-year life of the loan (which is equivalent to the lifespan of the LED lighting installed).

Wilmington and similar communities throughout the United States and the world will need electrical contractors more than ever to help make their smart city goals a reality.

About The Author

ROMEO is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Va. He focuses on business and technology topics. Find him at

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