Innovative New Product Reduces Cost of Street Lighting

Innovative New Product Reduces Cost of Street Lighting

LED lighting can cut costs of lighting and yearly maintenance by up to 90%

Street lighting is a huge annual expense in energy costs and a subject that is getting much attention in the general bid to save energy resources and reduce our carbon emissions. Newer lighting technology is being turned to in order to help address these issues with LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights being seen as the way forward.

Our street lighting dilemma

Running and maintaining street lighting costs millions of pounds a year equating to some 4% of the country’s lighting electricity bill. Worldwide, at least a third of the roads are still illuminated at night by 1960s lighting technology that makes up some 40% of electricity costs in many towns and cities. The commonly used sodium lights with their characteristic orange glow are gradually being replaced by LED types in parts of the UK: Torbay in Devon and Islington in north London have LED light replacement projects on the go. In Gloucestershire a LED replacement project has started that will see them installed in street lights throughout the county over the next twelve years. The energy saving per average street when the lights are all switched over to LED fitted by street lighting specialists is some 35%.

Environmental targets

Along with saving costs, LED lighting is seen as a way to help the environment. Local authorities are obliged to hit set carbon reduction and climate change targets: the project manager of the Gloucestershire project says they won’t meet their targets without this major lighting change. A degree of trying to save costs has already been seen nationally with many counties switching off street lights after a certain time - such as midnight - instead of them being on all night long. The problem with this is reduced safety both on certain roads and on streets.

Why LED is seen as the solution

LED lighting uses much less power than traditional road and street lighting so straight away energy costs are lowered as are carbon emissions. Indeed it’s estimated that if the 5.5 million streetlights in the UK were converted to LED some 770,000,000 kWh of electricity would be saved, and carbon dioxide emissions would reduce by around 430,000 tonnes making a cost saving overall of around £77 million a year. The cost saving is also partly down to the reduced maintenance required for LED compared to sodium lighting.

Other benefits of LED

There are several other advantages of LED lighting:
  • Improved lighting quality: better for health, safety and security
  • Low energy consumption: cost less to run and reduced carbon emissions
  • More robust: better able to withstand vandalism and accidental damage
  • Reduced maintenance: can save 90% per year in maintenance expense
  • Less toxic: free of toxic releasing materials such as mercury and lead
  • Higher per watt ratio: LED lights produce more light per watt than conventional lighting so contributing to cost savings

Keeping the lights on

The issue of running streetlights all through the night could be addressed by setting the lights to dim after a certain time or even being controlled via wi-fi from a base location. This would save power but avoid areas being plunged into darkness in the middle of the night. In any event, it’s said a system enabling lighting to be dimmed and remotely controlled will be necessary to meet environmental targets even if LED lighting becomes the norm.