As major cities nationwide begin reaping the many benefits of converting to LED street lights, so too may your city.
As anyone who has been shopping for LEDs can attest, they generally have a higher initial purchase cost compared with traditional light bulbs. The same goes for the price of an LED streetlight over conventional sodium light. However, cities are making an up-front investment in LEDs in order to experience long-term benefits of the technology.
A two-and-a-half-year global pilot of LED street lamps across major cities found that LED street lighting can generate energy savings as high as 85 percent. The pilot program also revealed that in the United States alone, cutting the energy used by lighting by 40 percent would save $53 billion in annual energy costs.
But LEDs don’t just cut costs — they also reduce the carbon footprint in the surrounding area.
According to CCTV America, scientists estimate that 20 percent of the entire world’s energy is spent on light, 6 percent of which is accounted for by street lamps. The potential to save is enormous when you consider that going from a traditional lighting system to an LED lighting system can result in energy savings of up to 50 percent.
Clearer skies and safer streets
Gone are the days of dim lamps that cast a yellowish-orange glow onto our roads, and in are the new, flat boxy fixtures that illuminate streets with white light.
Not only do LED lights give a more neutral-colored illumination to streets, but they can even take away the cloudy glow of city lights, bringing clarity to the surrounding architecture that makes each city unique.
The view from the freeway of New Haven, Connecticut, for example, is significantly more visible after the LED street light program was implemented.
Photo Credit: inspiredLED
In addition to enhancing the scenery, LEDs are helping to make streets safer.
New smart LED lighting systems that are being implemented in parks and cities with high crime rates, such as Coolidge Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have the ability to turn on automatically at dusk and off at dawn. What’s more, each light can be controlled remotely by police officers to better illuminate a crime scene or trail as a suspect is fleeing.
Beyond the U.S. borders
The development and adoption of LED street lamps is not just an emerging trend in the United States — it’s happening globally.
The Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab recently set up examples of the most advanced street lighting systems in the world at a small industrial park on the outskirts of Copenhagen so that city planners from around the world could choose the best performers for their municipalities.
All of the examples in the park were controlled by Wi-Fi management systems, and most contained motion sensors and LEDs. The Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab hopes to integrate cutting-edge smart lamps around the world, including light that is triggered by a car moving past a lamp post.
When cities incorporate intelligent lighting systems that manage each LED light post, there can be upwards of a 75 to 80 percent energy savings over traditional lighting systems, according to the chief technical officer at the Danish Lighting Lab, Kim Brostrom.
Recent breakthroughs in LED technology are leading to lower prices and increased availability. This is the spark that will bring LEDs to people and cities all over the world. As the new year begins, LED street lights are certainly a technology to watch in 2015.