Austin’s Moon Towers – An Alternative Approach to Streetlight

When I was down in Austin this year for the South-by-Southwest Interactive festival, we drove around looking at the city’s old moon towers.  The concept of these old towers is that they were used to augment street lighting, which was made of gas at the time (late 1800’s), and could be employed when regular street lighting was way too expensive.

The moonlight towers, as they are officially called, were once carbon arc sources, but now sport mercury vapor HIDs.  Once incandescent lighting started to get really popular, moonlight towers sorta went by the waysite.  Austin, however, still has 17 original towers that have been refurbed all the way down to the hardware back in 1993.  Supposedly they provide enough light for you to read a watch for a 1500 foot radius.  It was very hard to discern these onsite due to all of the other street lighting, but the towers certainly provide a presence around the city.  You can see them for miles.

I took a few crappy shots of the moonlight tower I checked out – there are 16 more to explore!

Thanks, Wikipedia!

Everlast’s PVW Hybrid Street Light

I wrote a post about induction lamp technology a few days ago – a company called Everlast is producing a solar and wind powered induction lamp street light.  PV panels, a turbine, and a 70-100W fluorescent induction source.  The system as a whole is pretty sweet – the wind turbine operates at as low as 2-3 mph, and has an electric shutdown after 60 mph.  I would assume that those blades could create some catastrophic failure on high winds, as any wind power collector.

Check out Everlast’s product page on the PVW Solar/Wind Street Light.  It’s pretty interesting!

PVW hybrid

Hei’s Solar Street Light

2,200 lumens at 24 watts with a service life of 75,000 hours – these are the essential numbers of Hei’s solar street light design.  An LED source is powered by a complex solar collection system – the fixture is sleek, if I may say so myself!  The solar collection unit on top is designed to catch the day’s sun direction without a tracker – or at least I assume…

Instead of me trying to explain how cool this fixture is, here’s some product info:

Photovoltaic module technology
The totally innovative tube-shaped photovoltaic element is an outstanding technical innovation by hei solar lightTM. For this purpose, highly efficient photovoltaic cells are inserted into a hardened glass tube. The vertical orientation of the PV-module and the all-round arrangement of the PV-cells result in optimised winter suitability. Even at diffuse daylight. In addition, the vertical arrangement of the PV-module prevents snow and dirt depositions.

Multi-point-LED technologyTM
The LED-technology, specially developed for hei solar lightTM allows for individual lighting design, adapted to the location. Concentration of light by means of a lens system allows for a defined orientation of light on the ground. As a result, scatter loss is minimised, luminosity is optimised.

Energy storage
A low-maintenance solar battery, integrated into the light, stores the converted energy from the sun. Due to its modular design, the capacity of the battery is adapted to the respective climate condition of the location.

Energy management
An intelligent electronic system monitors the charging condition of the energy storage device. Luminosity is reduced according to demands during longer periods of poor weather. As a result, trouble-free operation is ensured.

Ok, I’m a nerd, but even their website is awesome!  When you click to the product page, this is what you see before you click to information:


Here’s a few product images – a beautiful design!








Opto Tech’s LED Street Lamp


I’ve seen a lot of research and teasers about LED street lamp technology lately – the Lunar Resonant Street Lamp was one, New York City is also implementing an experimental program for LED street lamps.  Lots of them.  I guess it’s not fair to say just street lamps, because park lighting and other types of large-area devices are getting the LED treatment, at least in theory.

One I ran across lately was from a company called Opto Tech from Taiwan – they’re producing a fixture they call the Smart LED Street Light.  The company refers to its invention as the “breathing street light” due to its interesting cooling technology – once heat is generated by the optical module, the heat is dissipated to a heat sink via a copper heat pipe quickly and efficiently.

Opto Tech has plans to produce a 55W and 105W versions of the street lights – they’re designed to use either solar power or AC power.  The photometric curve is a perfect butterfly, engineered with safe driving in mind – the color temperature at 105W is 5200K with a CRI of 70, and about 82 lumens per watt.

It kinda looks like the head of a snake, doesn’t it?




Thanks, LEDs Mag!

Dial4Light – Street Lighting Control from Your Mobile


A company called Dial4Light is giving municipalities the option to put their street lighting on the control of residents’ cell phones.  Essentially, the street lights stay off until a resident requests them via mobile on a per-street basis.  I think I have that right – a person calls a central phone number, requests a particular street to be illuminated, and it stays illuminated for 10-15 minutes, then shuts down again.  The approach seems to be solving the problem of control before solving the problem of efficient sources.

From Dial4Light’s website:

Your local municipalityis responsible for setting lighting times for public lighting. Dial4Light® assists the municipalities via this website, through optimising lighting times, i.e. by matching them to consumer demand. Residents and municipalities benefit from this scheme. Lighting times can be adjusteded within about two months after Dial4Light® is first installed. This period is required in order to collect and analyse a wide range of data (switching times, switching frequency per route etc.).

I’m not terribly sold on this concept quite yet, but I can see some positive benefits from it – energy savings, light pollution decrease, and maybe lamp savings.  I could also see some very negative benefits from it, like safety.

What do you think?  Post in the comments, please!

Thanks, BBC!

Ireland is Testing Water-Powered Street Lights


Water-powered street lights.  Water + a little generator + LED street fixture = happy illumination for everyone.


Well, we don’t know quite yet.  Ireland is testing a water-powered lamp for street lighting – just one right now, flanked by two solar-powered LED fixtures.  The fixture is powered by a little turbine powered by the stream under the footbridge where the test fixture is installed; one generator can power three of these street lamps.  Oh, did I mention that the water-powered setup is €3,000?  The water-powered lamp is backed up with a solar collector for those days when the stream is low, or something like that.

So, the conversion is €3,000 = $243,712.67 USD.  I’m kidding, of course.

Does anyone have an image of this water=powered source and its generator?

Thanks to CleanTechnica, SuperEco, and the Irish Times!

NYC’s Dept. of Transportation to Install LED Street Lamps

New York City’s Department of Transportation is working with the Office for Visual Interaction to create new LED efficient street lamps to replace all of the HPS and Mercury Vaopr lamps that exist currently.  The city’s cost savings and maintenance hours are all things that are under consideration, with the LEDs having an ultimately longer life than the HIDs in use today.

From the Office for Visual Interaction‘s website:

In 2004, an international design competition was launched to create a new standard streetlight for the City of New York. Our design was selected after a two-stage competition process, and will add to the City’s existing catalogue of fixtures to light streets, sidewalks, and parks within the city’s five boroughs.

In creating a streetlight that will become a new classic, we asked ourselves, “What is the light source of the future?” Hi-flux LEDs emerged as an outstanding solution. With their small size, low wattage, intensity, and extremely long life of over 50,000 hours, LEDs are preeminent as an energy efficient, minimal-maintenance source.

Rethinking the aesthetic potential of LED technology was a driving force for the streetlight’s elegant form. In contrast to the bulky cobra-heads associated with high-pressure sodium lamps, the streetlight takes on a slim, elongated profile enabled by the tiny size of its light source, which does not require a hefty decorative enclosure. Instead, the thin arc of the luminaire itself provides the necessary surface area for housing and cooling the LEDs. The revolutionary aesthetic of the streetlight is specifically derived from the requirements and possibilities of LED technology.

The actual lamps themselves are being designed by the Lighting Science Group.  From the article in the NYT:

The bulbs themselves for this $1.175 million contract are being designed by Lighting Science Group and the company expects that for each pole and light source that is replaced, the payback period for the city will be two to three years. Not only will the city reduce its power usage 25 to 30 percent, but the bulbs will last 50,000 to 70,000 hours. Today’s sodium lamps are rated at 24,000 hours, which means at that point half of them are dead. The L.E.D. life rating actually means that the bulb will drop below 70 percent of its original brightness after 50,000 hours or so.

New Yorkers shouldn’t get too excited yet – the pilot project is going to replace six poles.  Just six.  Let’s hope this catches on!