Philips unveils poleless street lighting system


April 27, 2012

FreeStreet is a suspended street lighting system, that doesn't require streetlight poles

FreeStreet is a suspended street lighting system, that doesn't require streetlight poles

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A group of people including city planners and architects recently put a challenge to Dutch electronics company Philips: design an outdoor lighting system that helps to declutter our streets. The result was FreeStreet, a street lighting system that does away with vertical streetlight poles in favor of horizontally-strung cables that have clusters of LED lights built into them. The system won its designers a 2011 Dutch Design Award, and is available for use in Europe as of this month.

The cables are suspended to run parallel to the street that they’re lighting, and must be electrically sourced to the streetfront facade every 100 meters (328 feet) – according to Philips, the figure for most other suspended systems is closer to about every 20 meters (66 feet). Additionally, FreeStreet is said to be up to 40 percent more energy efficient than traditional sodium street lighting. That said, no figures area available concerning how its light output compares.

The four-bulb LED clusters themselves are designed to emulate drops of fluid along the cable, in that they are smoothly integrated into it, as opposed to simply being clamped on. This feature is intended to make the system less visually obtrusive ... and while it could be argued that FreeStreet does indeed eliminate the vertical clutter of streetlight poles, along with freeing up the sidewalk space that they occupy, it looks like it does contribute somewhat to the overhead clutter of power and/or trolley lines.

A pilot project for the technology is planned to begin in Eindhoven within the next six months, with a U.S. release scheduled to take place sometime this year.

More information on FreeStreet is available in the video below.

Source: Philips via Dvice

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I find the wires uglier than the poles. Bury the wires, just leave simple poles for the lighting.


I agree with sunfly.

This might have some good uses but I hope it doesn't discourage the use of buried power cables. On the plus side, it does look like they've taken effort to direct the light downward unlike some which cause light pollution and waste power.

Snake Oil Baron

It might work well in places where utility poles are still used. But most American cities that haven't already completely eliminated above-ground utilties are slowly burying electric, fiber optic, cable TV and other lines despite the higher cost.


Bury the wires and hang the lights from the trees, and buildings.


Asthetics? Yes and no.

Poles yes.

Canterlevered Beam type light fittings hanging off the side of buildings - yes.

More WIRES strung across streets.......... Tis nice to see trees and sky - the wires - Not so much.

Mr Stiffy

um so what holds the wires up? magic?

Eric Gipson


so what holds the wires up?

magic? comment Eric D Gipson - April 27, 2012 @ 11:14 pm PDT"

Yes, you still need poles to hold up the wires, so this idea is incredibly stupid.

Jason Insertlaastnaamehere

Most places outside the western world have high tensile power cables/telecom cables strung along the streets therefore they could combine light and power from the same cable infrasructure, if they create a inductance powered led light that would clip onto existing power lines matters would be better still.


Spot on Eric! I don't want this in front of my house. I'd much prefer a slender pole, very skinny on top and the lights molded into the arc.

The Hoff

This isn't all that original of a design, people have been using strings of lamps hung on wires as street lighting for two hundred years They were even used to hang people in the french revolution.

Peter Kowalchuk-Reid

Wires strung from buildings and trees leave little space for flying kites and hanging running shoes. Prefer poles and underground cables. LEDs work on any support.


Question. How is this better than replacing end of life streetlights with led lamps when the infrastructure is already in place ?.


I imagine that even a small wind would get the light swinging and make for constantly moving shadows, which would be an unpleasant side effect.

Michael Crumpton

No !!!!!!!!

Take the single-most ugliest blot that infests our skylines, and install more of them???

This is hands-down the most stupid idea I've ever seen in Gizmag.

They should have been incarcerated for that idea, not awarded.


You airheads should study the information more before you spout off.

The applications are in Europe where the streets and plaza's do not have any sidewalk space to waste on more poles for lighting, the cables are strung between buildings.

The requirement was to declutter the street level to walk around in urban cores, not driving through North American suburbs.

Robin Mccabe

so what holds the wires up? the wire that now oscillates and soon to fail.

Jay Finke

I've always liked the Moonlight towers in Austin, TX. A single tower could illuminate a large area. These came about in the late 1800's and now, I think they are worth re-considering. With modern LED lighting, a sleek or retro (steampunk) design, They would be far more efficient at night and more attractive than all the wires during the day. Come to think of it, adjacent buildings could "host" solar panels to charge batteries and lower the cost of operation.


Most of the comments are from people in the developed world, and quite frankly, many of them are downright uninformed or just plain biased

This idea addresses a huge problem of cities in the developing world, where myriad vertical poles of all kinds have made the streets dirty, cluttered and grossly ugly. The lane in front of my house has a total of about 60 houses , 26 feet side with a 8 foot garden in front of each house , and a 10 feet road . The lane has about 20 horrible looking electricity poles, 10 on each side. each of these poles has a mess of wires of all kinds dangling at a height, and normal electric cable running between every pair. Add to that the myriad bamboo/ metal poles the local TV and internet providers have erected illegaly in front fo every house. You cant even begin to imagine how shabby, cluttered and horrible a look the lane gets with all this

I know the real solution is underground cabling for power lines, but this sure is a start. I say that because it is unlikely in the next 50 years that India sees underground electric lines in our cities.

Atul Malhotra

Re; Atul Malhotra

One day Tesla will return, until then you are stuck with cables.


floating glow globes, as seen in Frank Herbert's Dune.. or issue everyone night vision goggles

Herm Perez

Yes, you still need poles to hold up the wires, so this idea is incredibly stupid.

Maybe buildings? Can also be strung diagonally...

Brendan Dunphy
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