Tips & tricks

5 tips on replacing public lighting

There’s no shortage of talk about the future of smart lighting, but sometimes we forget where we are today. Even now we haven’t yet reached the point where replacing public lighting automatically means using LED lighting – and this despite the fact that using LED lighting in public spaces offers a platform for all kinds of new services and applications. So you’re considering replacing some or all of your network. What should you be considering? Sustainder’s Frank den Ridder has five tips:

Tip 1: Reducing CO2 is ‘more important’ than saving money

Cost reduction is not seen by municipalities as the biggest reason for switching to LED street lighting. Why? Municipalities can already buy energy relatively cheaply, for 5-6 euro cents per kW/h, so the financial incentives are limited. However, meeting CO2 targets is an important consideration for many municipalities. Often, central government imposes targets aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by a certain percentage within a certain period. Switching to smarter street lamps is a relatively easy step towards lower emissions. Employing LED lighting can quickly cut emissions by 30 to 35%. If you make the luminaires ‘smart’, you can approach 50%. Move to dynamic lighting that can be dimmed to just 20% of the lamp’s maximum intensity, and include motion sensors so they only switch on when needed anyway, and the reductions can be even bigger. So, don’t only consider financial savings when investigating smart lighting; also look at the ways smart public lighting can help you meet your CO2 goals.

Tip 2: Reduce the mental barriers to dynamic lighting

It’s a surprising fact, but many municipalities don’t look at what their colleagues are doing. There are many municipalities with good practices in the field of dynamic lighting. It sounds obvious, but visit these projects and talk with the people who worked on them. When you’re considering replacing a large number of luminaires with a smart version featuring a dimming system, you want to know how it works, who should be responsible for what, the real-world experience and what results you can expect. It’s more involved than just buying a lamp and installing it. On the other hand, today’s dynamic lighting systems are much simpler to manage than the early ones, even though the idea they are complex remains.  Viewing real projects first hand will show you that rather than complicating your life, they make will make it easier.

Tip 3: Write specifications together

We and other companies in the market can help you create a good MEAT (most economically advantageous tender) specification. You don’t have to do everything on your own. We could help you formulate your dynamic-lighting plan, for example, set up the tender, with the technical installation work, or the management and maintenance plan. We can also help with fragmented lighting situations, such as cycle path lighting, where you can easily think up and configure a number of variables without having to commit to a specific supplier. This approach gives you a better idea of what the market offers in terms of dynamic lighting, so enabling you to side-step potential risks.

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Tip 4: Choose a future-proof luminaire

You’re ready to choose a luminaire. Well, don’t only consider the quality of the LED light itself. You should also explore whether the luminaire can be used for things other than lighting as well. Like measuring temperature or particulates. You don’t have to decide to do these now, but it’s nice to know you can should you want to in the future. That’s why it’s useful if the luminaire’s functionality can be easily extended. At Sustainder, we employ a ‘cassette concept’ in our luminaires for just this reason. All the sensors in our luminaires are mounted together in a cartridge that is easy to replace or extend with additional sensors. And if new software becomes available, we can customize the functionality of the luminaire online without having to send a contactor to update each luminaire manually, or having to dig up the road. Choosing a future-proof luminaire now avoids having to replace fully serviceable units in the future just because you want to add new applications.

“We used to change bulbs. Now, with LED lamps and the Sustainder cassette, the light source is the constant factor, and the cassette and sensors are the variables.”

Tip 5: Save on inspection

Municipalities without a remote system for managing and controlling their public lighting spend hundreds of expensive hours every year checking their networks. Mostly they do this the old-fashioned way: by driving around local neighbourhoods and looking at street lights. Dynamic lighting makes this history. The new and easy way is to identify defective lighting remotely. The system says which luminaire is defective, or if a lamp is drawing too much power. The system can also switch the luminaire to a lower-power mode, or even off, if the LED is getting too hot. Meanwhile, you can work on a solution, without having to carry out an inspection and before people living nearby start to complain. Which may be the greatest saving of all.