solar powered street lights

Solar Street Lighting for Municipalities

Increasing Safety and Security

We have firsthand experience with solar street lighting for municipalities. In cities like Combes, Tucson and Albuquerque, older neighborhoods had no street lighting. Either it was never installed, or it was in disrepair.

Why Does Street Lighting Matter So Much?

According to UNESCO’s article Light and the Built Environment, “Lighting provides safety and security, provides access to education, enhances architecture, and improves quality of life.” We have seen the benefits of outdoor lighting. It encourages afterwork exercise, commuting alternatives, and increased socializing in the community.
Experts debate the impact of lighting on crime because it’s complicated. For example, does crime go down because of lighting or because more people feel safe enough to be out and about? In Improving Street Lighting to Reduce Crime in Residential Areas, the US Department of Justice reviews eleven studies. Seven studies show that show streetlights had a desirable impact on crime.
Lighting also helps residents safely navigate. Though it’s hard to measure, it has an impact on the atmosphere of the neighborhood as well.

Barriers to Street Lighting

The cost of installing traditional streetlighting is often highest in areas that need it most. Why?
It can be hard to dig in these neighborhoods. Records for the underground infrastructure may be out of date. Infrastructure like sidewalks, paved streets and landscaping are usually in place. Costs for installing underground wiring include trenching and wiring. They also include traffic control, repaving, soil remediation and landscape repair. Whether a city leases or buys streetlights, these costs can prevent them from installing lighting.
Another barrier to streetlighting is public opinion on light pollution. Light pollution includes sky glow and light trespass into living spaces. No one wants streetlighting in their bedroom!
Luckily, there are solutions for light pollution objections. Consult commercial lighting companies, like Fonroche. They offer fixtures certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. These fixtures prevent uplight. Also look for fixtures that have the option for an internal shield. The shield blocks unwanted light, behind the pole or on either side.

 Solar Street Lighting for Municipalities

Combes, Tucson, Albuquerque, and many others have turned to solar lighting as an alternative. Solar streetlights are completely autonomous. Because of this, installation is quick and causes little disruption. Using direct burial poles, it’s not much different than planting a tree.
Solar streetlights also provide uninterrupted lighting during utility power outages and emergencies. They don’t add to the load on the grid either. With zero emissions, these lights won’t undermine your community’s sustainability targets.

Getting Started

You need to provide a secure and safe environment. Off-the-shelf consumer grade lighting won’t do the job. Be sure that you choose a municipal-grade solar lighting supplier. Expect them to configure your system and your lighting design to meet the needs of your location. Also look for guaranteed lighting 365 nights per year and batteries that will last 10 or more years. This cuts maintenance costs.
Energy availability varies based on your location. That’s partly due to the angle of the sun at your latitude and partly due to the local climate. You will need an energy and lighting analysis. You can’t predict the reliability of your lighting or your light levels without one.
The lighting design is important too. Too much glare or uneven lighting can make visibility worse, not better. Make sure the lighting design shows worst case (winter) performance.
Finally, don’t forget to consider light pollution. Look for fixtures with zero uplight and shielding options.
To get a free energy and lighting proposal for your street, contact us.