Street Lights Getting Smarter

The evolution of lighting technology is touching every aspect of society. Smart technology and alternative sources of energy are similarly expanding their reach, leading to a range of innovations even in street lighting.

After determining that traditional street lighting was prohibitively expensive to install, Premiere Homes LLC, a Virginia residential and commercial builder, chose to install top-of-pole-mounted commercial solar outdoor lighting systems as part of a new neighborhood development called Randolph West in Richmond, Va.

The solar-powered systems were able to save the city time, money and the disruptions associated with installing underground wires. The efficient installation of the solar lights also considerably lessened the traffic, parking and noise effects on the new neighborhood while providing a sustainable and efficient lighting solution.

“As we were developing the infrastructure for Randolph West, it soon became clear that grid-tied street lighting would be much less efficient and would add significant time to the project,” said Sean Bowers, chief operating officer at Premiere Homes.

As lighting evolves and smart technology expands, local projects like Randolph West are taking place all over the country. 

According to a recent study, “smart street lighting” is on the rise. Boulder, Colo.-based market research firm Navigant reports that light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and network-controlled systems are helping to drive this trend. Navigant released the report, “Smart Street Lighting,” in July. It identifies a number of factors that have led to this convergence.

Foremost among them, falling prices have triggered a worldwide transition from older lamp technologies to newer, more efficient and more controllable LEDs. The change is happening so fast, Navigant reports that some manufacturers of street lamps are even discontinuing their non-LED product lines.

The report notes that LED street lights offer a number of other advantages, including improved nighttime visibility and cost savings from reduced energy consumption and lower maintenance requirements.

All of these factors are contributing to what Navigant projects will be “nearly a complete takeover” of the market by LEDs. The report forecasts that the global market share of LEDs in street lighting will grow from 53.3 percent in 2014 to 93.8 percent in 2023.

The other side of the equation is the application of smart, networked systems to street lights. The two technologies go well together, and according to Navigant, the growth of LEDs is driving the adoption of new networked street light systems. Unlike LEDs, the latter technology has some hurdles to overcome, including the lack of standardization and questions about the best networking technology to employ, power line or radio frequency versus mesh or point-to-multipoint.

As a light source, it’s no secret LEDs are making a strong bid for general service replacements, but with such broad, comprehensive applications, their reach may be farther than originally anticipated.

About the Author

Mike Breslin

Freelance Writer

Mike Breslin is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He has 30-years experience writing for newspapers, magazines, multimedia and video production companies with concentration on business, energy, environmental and technical subjects. Mike is...

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