What are the benefits of new LED street lights?
23 September 2015
Looking out of my window for the last couple of weeks, I have noticed road works, fencing and machinery. My road is currently getting new state of the art street lights as part of Sheffield City Councils Streets Ahead works. These lights have been installed across cities in the UK since 2011 and the Sheffield scheme started in 2012 and is expected to run until 2017. These new lights will look and work quite differently from the street lights we are used to, delivering social and environmental benefits.
The new lights will improve the quality of street lighting by assessing lamp location and potentially moving some lights to ensure light is more evenly distributed along the street, using Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology that is designed to improve the overall quality of street lighting. The white light shows more colours, making streets safer for pedestrians and also making it easier for motorists to spot dangers while driving. LED lights do not need time to warm up, they can be switched on immediately and they are better situated to concentrate light onto the pavement and road, preventing light escaping upwards and into people’s houses. All of the lights are connected to a central control monitoring system that detects when they are not working so repair and maintenance can occur sooner and more efficiently.
There are clear environmental benefits too. The lights save a lot of energy in a variety of ways. Their day to day operation uses up to 60% less energy than the sodium lights they are replacing and the lights will be dimmed late at night in an effort to further reduce the amount of energy used and to improve the city’s carbon footprint. Even though the lights will be dimmed, in many cases, the lighting level will still be improved when compared to levels before the improvements were made. In fact, Sheffield City Council expects to see a 40% saving on energy use as a result of street upgrades including the energy efficient street lighting, traffic signals and illuminated signs. LED lights also have a much longer life span than previous street lights, meaning lower maintenance and replacement costs. The LED lights do not contain any harmful substances like mercury or lead, which make them compliant with RoHS (the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) and, if damaged, therefore do not release harmful gases that can be damaging to people and/ or the environment. Better lighting also means less light pollution. This isn’t only better for star gazers; it’s also better for birds and other wildlife that have often been disturbed by other lighting options. Further, these lights do no emit ultraviolet light, that can attract nocturnal insects.
Many Councils across the country are installing LED street lighting as a way to work towards climate change mitigation as lighting accounts for almost 20% of global electricity use. More efficient lighting can lead to significant savings for Councils and help to reduce the overall carbon footprint of a city. There are various drivers for this including pressures from the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and increasing pressure on climate change initiatives both from Europe and worldwide. Hopefully you can now see the potential benefits of the lights you may see popping up in an area near you.