Solar powered LED streetlights provide off-the-grid road illumination


August 20, 2010

Lighting Science Group's PROLIFIC Series Roadway LED streetlight

Lighting Science Group's PROLIFIC Series Roadway LED streetlight

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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.

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

This will be a boon in conserving energy in street lighting compared to normal practicing. If cost can be reduced many developing countries will adopt this.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh

Even in industrialized countries with established power grids, the low maintenance costs would make it attractive, and the ability to use solar power would make street lighting independent of power grid failure during emergencies like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, etc.

William Lanteigne

There is still that problem of the relatively low operating temperature. maybe the can add some sort of passive liquid cooling to the system into the stem of the street light. even add a solar panel to each light and interconnect them. just a thought.

Denis Klanac

The title is misleading. These are not solar powered LED lamps since there is no solar panel/generator. They are DC Powered LED lamps and can be powered by any DC source including an ICE generator, a wind powered generator, or solar panels. Their overall efficiency might also include energy losses of any AC-DC converter used on the supply side if an AC source is used.


Too bad - more light polution...


Here on Okinawa I spotted a large business driveway entrance streetlight powered by both a small vertical wind power generator mounted with a flat solar panel. The lights were LED.


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