Solar powered LED streetlights provide off-the-grid road illumination
By Ben Coxworth
August 20, 2010
It would seem kind of strange if you were driving on a back road at night, far from any known source of electricity, when you suddenly came across a working streetlight. Such a thing is possible, however, and could even become a common occurrence. That’s because Lighting Science Group now manufactures solar powered LED streetlights, that can run entirely independent of local power grids. Even if the availability of electricity isn’t an issue, Lighting Science states they are also brighter, more efficient, and require less maintenance than regular HID streetlights. Those claims obviously impressed somebody, as the company’s PROLIFIC Series Roadway streetlights are now being installed on a 23-kilometer (14-mile) stretch of Mexico City’s elevated Viaducto Bicentenario superhighway.
Lighting Science says their 100-watt, 5000K Roadways are at least 50 percent more efficient than HIDs. The lights are designed to run off a low-voltage direct current source of electricity, which could come from either solar or wind power.
They are also said to give a more intense, uniform light distribution, and should save thousands of dollars in maintenance over the 60,000-hour lifetime of the fixture. This is because they don’t require relamping or reballasting, and direct line wiring is used instead of starters or capacitors. When maintenance is necessary, the electrical components can be accessed through a swinging door that requires no tools to open. The low maintenance requirements were one of the key reasons they were chosen by BHP Energy Mexico.
Given that the lights have a listed operating temperature of -40 to 40C (-40 to 104F), it will be interesting to see how they hold up to the often-intense heat of Mexico City.