Someday not too far off, street lighting in Edmonton will be so flexible that it can be programmed to be brighter when lots of pedestrians are using sidewalks, then dimmer later on.
You can just see the future light up in Vlado Cicovski’s eyes when the City’s senior street lighting engineer talks about the bright new world that LED street lighting is bringing to the city.
“Aside from the environmental wisdom of switching over to LED lighting, LED offers lighting engineers vastly more flexibility in adapting lighting to specific locations and even times of day,” he says.
The lights come in about 100 different variations of wattages and ‘throw patterns’.
“So if a sidewalk is set back further than normal from the street, we can now order lights that throw more light towards the rear of the lamp.
“There’s one stretch of roadway in Edmonton where we used four different wattages and distribution patterns to light everything the way we wanted.”
Vlado says the City’s 100,000 street lights are in the early stages of conversion from high pressure sodium vapour lamps to LED luminaires. About 17,000 are converted now; the goal is to have the rest done within five years.
Sodium vapour lamps ranged from 70 to 1,000 watts. The LED lamps, which use 16 to 200 watts, save about 35% in both energy costs and greenhouse gas emission spin-off. Vlado believes the total saving should reach 50% by 2020 with technological improvements.
The LED lamps cost about 25% more ($500 total) than their predecessors, but require much less service after installation.
“Of the 17,000 we’ve installed, seven have been faulty. That’s not even a tenth of a percent. By contrast, more than seven percent of the old sodium vapour lamps failed in their first year,” he says.
The list of ‘LED-vantages’ goes on.
Edmonton has a detailed Light Efficient Community Policy, one portion of which requires a reduction in light pollution.
If you’ve seen the new LED lights, you’ll know that there is virtually no spillage sideways or up into the sky. They focus light where it’s actually needed.
“We’re doing much better than standards set by the Transportation Association of Canada and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America,” says Vlado.
And the engineers are watching collision statistics to determine if the new lights reduce collisions. “Right now it looks like they might, but we need more years of statistics before we can say for sure,” says Vlado.
Transportation street lighting group work on 300 projects a year, many of them new residential or commercials development areas. They also oversee the repair or replacement of as many as 30 damaged poles a week.