Green light? Ok, not literally green bulbs but green in the sense that it is a kinder, gentler, eco-friendly white light that not only provides safe night time travel but in the vernacular of today’s green world leaves a smaller carbon footprint. For all the grief that WalMart gets for being the retailer that everybody loves to hate but they still shop in, you have to admit they’ve had a huge impact in getting us to green-up our homes with compact fluorescent lights. As a City we’ve been looking for ways to green up our house too and street lights and traffic signals are two areas where some of the larger cities have had success converting to more energy efficient technology. It’s the old pay me now or pay me later dilemma, with the energy efficient bulbs costing more upfront but returning that investment in longer service life and cheaper life cycle costs. Here’s an interesting couple of articles that we came across in doing our reseach on what might be next for Kent.
To give you a frame of reference, here’s a couple of photo’s that show the visual improvement that comes from LED street lights (bright white in foreground) versus the old sodium vapor street lights (yellow background). It’s a fairly significant improvement.
City Street Lights in Kent
Here’s a short rundown from Gene Roberts, Public Service Director, regarding street lights in Kent today.
“First are the standard street lights, commonly known as cobra heads, and the second the downtown system of antique street lights.”
“The standard system is paid for through the Ohio Edison Company, Efficiency/Safety Incentive Program (ESIP). In order for a street light to be included in the OE ESIP program it must be listed in the OE Material/Equipment Specifications and Construction Standards. OE’s ESIP program includes all maintenance, bulb replacement and electrical energy costs at a reduced rate.”
“The benefit for the City is a reduced cost to provide electrical street lights, the down side is we must use a select few fixtures in order to benefit from the program. OE’s position is if they stay with a standard few then the maintenance costs go down as their maintenance trucks stock all the parts to make necessary repairs.”
“Currently most lights in the City are High Pressure Sodium (HPS) but in some of the older parts of town I still see a few older mercury vapor lights. The only cost not included in the ESIP program is damage which is paid for either directly to a contractor making the necessary repairs or to reimburse OE for the expenses out of the Service Department.”
“The City pays a commercial electric bill for the downtown decorative antique street lights and is responsible for all maintenance, repair and damage. There are a little over a hundred decorative street lights downtown (approximately. 19 double fixtures on a single pole and 83 single fixtures on single pole).”
“Regarding LED street lights the Engineer from Arcadis presented to the Crain Avenue Bridge Citizen Advisory Committee within the last two months that the current technology regarding the use of LEDs for street lights is just not there yet. They seem to work verily well in warmer climents but still need to make some improvements to make them viable here. An additional piece of information is the current price. We can purchase a T50HO high output fluorescent fixtures for about $185 (200-watt) but an LED will run about $750 (80-watt) for the same light output. After the meeting the CAB-CAC meeting Arcadis’ electrical engineer was going to try and obtain LED fixture (free or reduced cost) that we could mount outside of the Service Administration Complex replacing a current streetlight and see how well it does. This way we will have a working history for the LED fixture prior to placing in a ROW setting.”
In the United States, street lights account for approximately 30% of municipal power usage (according to the California Energy Commission) and the use of inefficient street lighting is one of the largest contributors to increased greenhouse gas emissions by municipal governments. One only has to fly over an American city at night to see the proliferation of street lighting that our constituents have come to expect, not only for convenience, but safety. Indeed, in many cities, the first request of an incoming mayor or council member is to install a streetlight outside of a constituent’s home. Given this public expectation for well-lit public streets, parks and parking garages, can municipal officials balance constituent concerns and their responsibility to the environment?
A little history may be helpful to see how we arrived at the current state of city street lighting. As electric use spread across cities, the predominant method of wiring a city consisted of a series of poles that followed city right-of-ways to businesses and homes. Given the cost and limited amount of lighting and other appliances at the time, electric providers looked for consistent, predictable uses to expand and pay for the significant infrastructure costs of building and maintaining an electrical grid. Looking upward, at the many poles lining city streets, it seemed natural to place incandescent bulbs on arms that extended out over city streets. At first, electric street lighting was confined to business districts and upper income neighborhoods, but it soon spread city wide and became a sign of prosperity to have a street light in front of your house. In turn, electric utilities came to depend on the significant revenue that cities provided and it seemed that America was headed on a path to having every street, park and public place in America, illuminated as a sign of wealth and prosperity.
For many years, electric street lighting consisted of a lone incandescent bulb with a familiar metal shade that was the favorite target of teenage boys with BB guns. This proceeded until around 1970, when various new technologies appeared that featured gas filled bulbs. The purpose of the new lighting was generally not energy efficiency, but rather a wider dispersion of light to accommodate the wider streets and faster speeds of the newer automobiles. When cities did look for more energy efficiency, the answer was generally the High Pressure Sodium light which cast an orange looking light. These High Pressure Sodium lights offered lower energy consumption at the cost of citizen satisfaction and safety concerns by public safety officials.
Along came September 11, Global Warming alerts and oil prices exceeding $100 per barrel and all bets were off. Green solutions became the mantra of citizens, businesses, politicians and the media. Respected academics like Stephen Pacala, an ecology professor at Princeton University raised the awareness of Global Warming even higher when he said, “We’re running an uncontrolled experiment on the only home we have.” Cities across America have made commitments to reduce energy use and move towards a sustainable future. Mayors like Greg Nickels of Seattle, Washington and Rick Baker of St. Petersburg, Florida have led the way in making their cities truly green. Many progressive cities have started to look at street lights as a way to reduce energy use. Technology has rapidly advanced and some significant improvements in street lighting have produced alternatives that would seem to be too good to be true.
Induction lighting, a technology that is over 100 years old, became more feasible for street lighting purposes due to reduced cost of manufacturing and the addition of integrated circuits. Because induction lighting does not use an internal electrode, it can last over 20 years and produces a “white” light that is very pleasing to the eye. Even more significant is the energy savings of 30 to 60%. Widely used in Europe and Asia, induction lighting is beginning to catch hold in North America with several major cities conducting beta tests and other mid-size cities implementing major relamping projects. In addition, several major projects have been installed on military bases and over 100,000 induction fixtures are currently in use in Mexico.
Another emerging technology is Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. LED’s are continuing to improve and have been tested by many cities and other users. LED lighting can be very efficient in getting the light to its target. Like Induction lighting, the whiter quality of light is very well received in most applications.
Remco Solid State Lighting Inc. Demonstrates LED-Based Direct Replacement For Conventional Street Lights
January 29, 2008
TORONTO–(Business Wire)–After four years of extensive Research & Development, Remco Solid State Lighting Inc., a Toronto, Canada-based SSL Solutions Company,
has broken through the barrier to replace conventional street lighting
with its recently patented SSL technology and LED-based street light.
Its disruptive SSL technology utilizes the dynamic resistance of
LEDs providing a LED light engine that is up to 98% power efficient –
only a 2% power loss that enables optimal power and LED lighting
efficiencies. IES certified photometric lab results and successful
pilot field-testing conducted at Camp Borden military base have
verified these industry-leading levels of performance.
A number of companies have ventured into the LED street lighting
market with varying degrees of success. Now, Remco Solid State
Lighting has delved into this market utilizing its recently patented
power efficient light engine and prototyped an LED Street Light for a
truly equivalent LED replacement of the conventional cobra head street
“Real LED-based lighting application replacements for existing
light sources must be direct lighting replacement solutions – lumen
for lumen and LUX for LUX, plus offer the benefits of energy savings
and reduced maintenance cost,” stated Ron Russell, Remco’s CTO and
inventor of Remco’s patented LED light engine. Not only is it
scaleable to all lighting applications but it also offers a
significant competitive advantage in high power LED lighting
Conventional street lights typically use a high-pressure sodium
bulb. Even non-technical people can see the difference in the picture.
The CTO also conveyed that, despite having retrofitted a cobra head
street light fixture with Remco’s proprietary thermal management and
LED light engine using a stock HPS cobra head lens, Remco’s LED Street
Light was able to outperform and produce more light at a greater
efficiency than the conventional high-pressure sodium street light.
Mark Matthews, Remco’s President and CEO stated, “What we strive
to achieve with our SSL technology and LED lighting applications is
equivalent useable lumens utilizing LEDs to replace conventional
lighting with significant energy savings. Our Light engine is up to
98% power efficient and this technology is the key, especially in high
power lighting applications.”
According to Alex Savu, Energy Manager at Camp Borden military
base in Canada (where the LED street light pilot test was performed),
conventional HPS street lights consume 138 watts (100 watt HPS bulb
plus the ballast which consumes an additional 38 watts) and the Remco
prototype (a light engine and LED fixture within a cobra head fixture)
consumed only 111 watts to generate 4770 useable lumens – a direct
Matthews explained that, “While the test confirms only a 20%
energy savings at 40.1 lumens per watt, these results are excellent
considering that we have incorporated our LED fixture within a cobra
head fixture and lost 20% of the lumens output absorbed by the
standard HPS cobra head lens; whereas, we could have generated
approximately 5300 useable lumens without the HPS lens.”
“When we complete our commercial product to replace all models of
100 watt HPS street lights (Note: the ballast also consumes 38 watts)
with our patented LED light engine, proprietary thermal management and
optics, utilizing 100 lumens/watt white LEDs, the commercial Remco LED
street light luminaire will achieve approximately a 50% energy savings
at 72 watts.”
It is estimated that there are 50 million 100 watt conventional
street lights in North America, and we would like to replace all
conventional street lights worldwide with Remco’s energy efficient LED
Street Light as a contribution to help reduce Global Warming.
Alex Savu reported that since performing the tests, he has seen
the superior performance of Remco’s LED Street Light. He said, “The
light is phenomenal. Basically, it is superior. It looks good!” He
explained, “We would have to change our current units ten times before
changing one of their units. The way we operate our lights, their
units will last 27.4 years.” (10 hours per day, seven days per week.)
Savu added, “Once we put theirs up, there were no complaints
whatsoever.” “However,” he said, “most of the other street lights we
tested received complaints; either they were not bright enough or
there was something wrong with the light.”
In addition to its power efficient light engine for street lights,
the company has developed a fully integrated pendant linear SSL
luminaire prototype to replace fluorescent lighting capable of 66%
energy savings as well fabricating prototypes of Edison-based LED
bulbs with brightness levels equivalent to the incandescent bulbs they
replace at energy savings of 85% to 95%!
Remco’s new LED light engine technology and SSL luminaires are
gaining attention. In 2008 the company was selected as one of Canada’s
Top Ten Cleantech technology companies by the Ottawa Centre for
Research and Innovation.
Remco is on the verge of setting new standards in the Solid State
Lighting industry and is currently seeking capital and licensing to
major global lighting/fixture organizations and/or international
distributors to collectively take a commanding lead in high power LED
Also, below is the conclusion from a very good report discussing the findings of a pilot project in Oakland California that you can read in it’s entirety, download here. I thought their choice of words “costs and savings … are still at the outskirts of acceptability” really summed up the situation best — going green is still a green ($) issue for street lights.
LED street lighting has great potential for energy savings. While this demonstration provides further evidence of the improvements in performance of LED luminaires, the particulars of costs and savings for this demonstration show economics that are still at the outskirts of acceptability for the majority of commercial customers. Performance of the LED luminaires combined with growing industry acceptance of their higher performance vs. high pressure sodium luminaires may provide early adopters the impetus to invest in the emerging technology. Utility or government incentive programs could also help to tip the scale towards greater adoption of LED luminaires for streetlight applications by reducing the initial investment. These utility incentive programs should require minimum performance standards for qualifying products in order to ensure long-term energy savings.”
A GUIDE TO GREEN STREET LIGHTING
By Jim Hunt, Co-Founder of Greenstreetlights.com