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Public / Municipal

A recent study coordinated by Philips and The Climate Group in cities like Sydney, Toronto, Calcutta, London,  New York, Hong Kong found that LED street lighting saved massive amounts of energy, reduced CO2 emissions and improved the quality of the ambient street experience. This study together with numerous trials accross the world, have proven that LED outdoor lights are mature enough in terms of their exceptional performance, energy efficiency. LED lights have to be evaluated in terms of quality, but it is clear that initial period of uncertainty is now gone and LED technology is being widely adopted as tehcnology of the future. Government organizations are generally not the first ones to embrace newer technologies. Yet, many municipalities are in fact taking this first step and installing LED street lights (after much research and field studies).

Budgets have become increasingly restrictive over the years and energy consumption in cities has become a focal point for many local governments. Municipal governments seem to be paying attention also to intelligent lighting systems. For instance, intelligent dimming can provide up to a percentage in energy savings for each percentage of dimming. Utility charges can be reduced as metering solutions enable accurate measurement of energy consumption data. With the ability to adjust light output for LED aging, color shifting and even failure, the usable lifetime of an LED-based installation can be even improved.

Awarness of cities, municipalities in selection of suitable lights as well as delivering decisions in a timely manner is rising.  There are still some major challenges to be overcome, especially in terms of coordination, cooperation of different bodies responsible in replacing the inefficient technologies but the main motivation should always be the public benefit – creating the sustainable livable cities today.




Step 1 - Decide if LED street lighting is right choice for your community
Step 2 - Define the scope of the project
Step 3 - Determine the funding source
Step 4 - Complete the financial analysis
Step 5 - Determine if street lights are going to be purchased by the city direct or through the installing contractor
Step 6 - Develop a simple, preliminary specification to help narrow down the fixture selection
Step 7 - Invite suppliers to present their products for testing and preliminary evaluation
Step 8 - Test the preferred luminaires in a residential street application
Step 9 - Issue and award bid
Step 10 - Implement project



Step 1 - Decide if LED street lighting is right choice for your community

LED street lights offer many advantages but in reality many cities may simply lack the personnel to administer these types of projects. This will usually require development of specifications, preparation of bid documents, and overseeing the implementation of the project. It is highly recommended that cities begin networking with other cities who have installed LED street lights as early as possible in the process to help confirm the desired objectives and avoid the pitfalls. It is recommended that the city consider purchasing few different LED street lights from different manufacturers to test.By putting up eight or twelve LED street lights you can quickly begin to educate yourself on the technology, the mechanics of the products, the differences in the illumination quality, etc. In addition, you can begin to obtain community feedback (positive and negative) on the lighting quality. When you are able to proceed with this initiative you will have gained valuable experience.




Step 2 - Define the scope of the project

For smaller communities it may be economical to convert all of the street lights at once. Larger cities typically prefer doing the project in stages. To define the scope of the project municipality should complete an audit of current street light inventory and light levels. In many cases cities do not have complete and current knowledge of the extent of their street lighting inventory.

If street lights are owned by an Investor Owned Utilities, confirm that they offer LED tariffs and/or rebates. This will substantially impact the financial viability of the project.
Because of the high initial cost, replacing decorative lights typically offer financial returns substantially lower and consequently are often deferred to the later stages.





Step 3 - Determine the funding source


It is wise to carefully consider the funding source early in the process:
-    Self Funding
-    Federal Government
-    State Programs
-    Utility Programs
-    ESCO’s Two or even three of these options can be combined to achieve the most favorable financing package for the project.




Step 4 - Complete the financial analysis

A preliminary analysis of the financial payback can be done quickly.
The formula for Simple Financial Payback is = Initial cost of the Program / Annual savings in Energy and Maintenance If the payback seems favorable it will probably be desirable to complete a more in-depth financial analysis to determine Return On Investment and the Net Present Value of the project. Typically programs with paybacks under 5 years should certainly be done and paybacks over 10 years are usually deferred. However, because of the urgency of global climate change, many communities are even proceeding with energy saving programs that have very long financial payback periods. If the funding source is a federal or state grant, it will normally make sense for the city to proceed with the project regardless of the payback.






Step 5 - Determine if street lights are going to be purchased by the city direct or through the installing contractor

Generally speaking the most cost effective method for these projects is for the city to buy the luminaires directly and have them installed by their own crews or by an outside contractor. Some cities however prefer the simplicity of having a single contractor provide a complete turnkey solution which may also include financing, labor warranties, etc. This approach will normally have a longer financial payback. Also, if the “turnkey solution” is chosen, the contractor may attempt to provide a lower quality street light. It is imperative therefore to list the acceptable products clearly in the bid documents.





Step 6 - Develop a simple, preliminary specification to help narrow down the fixture selection

You should define some criteria that would normally eliminate most of the very poor quality products and unreliable suppliers. For example:
-    LEDs shall have a CCT (correlated color temperature) of 4000K ± 3000K
-    Luminaires shall produce 0 light at or above 90°
-    Luminaries have passed industry standard tests for product safety (C-Tick label, AS/NZS compliance)
-    Supplier provides at least five year limited warranty
-    Luminaires meet the lighting levels and uniformity requirements You could also analyze energy use, light quality and lifecycle costs with help of street lighting tools.
For example SEAD Street Lighting Tool is a new, free software tool that allows lighting specifiers to find better fixtures for  their lighting upgrades.

You can download it from:

Two ready-to-use calculation tools are also provided by Australian Energy Savings Scheme.  These Excel calculation tools help you to use the Commercial Lighting Formula.




Step 7 - Invite suppliers to present their products for testing and preliminary evaluation


 Contacting suppliers and inviting them in to present their luminaires and data is very important. Wherever possible, it is also advisable to include the maintenance department in these meetings.
Generally the most successful LED street lighting conversion projects have been in cities that began dialogues with several manufacturers early in the process. They invited them to present their products and photometric analysis to determine:
-    Compliance with the specifications
-    Visual product quality
-    Ease of installation and maintenance
-    Experience, integrity, and solvency of manufacturer




Step 8 - Test the preferred luminaires in a residential street application

It is a good idea to identify between three and seven potential suppliers who presented products that met the specification and offered mechanical or performance features that the city found desirable. A good location for a street light test is a low traffic residential location with existing 70W or 100W HPS lights, consistent single-sided pole spacings and minimal trees. After this area is identified invite the selected suppliers to run the lighting calculations with their product’s IES files for your test installation using the precise street width, pole locations and mounting height. After the test units are installed invite feedback from city council, public works department, maintenance department or installing contractors, local citizens etc. on ease of installation, quality of illumination, light trespass, glare, and other issues that are deemed important.





Step 9 - Issue and award bid


Based on the results from the test installation select the products that are acceptable. Now writing the specification becomes very simple. You can use the original preliminary specification and simply add the selected manufacturers’ names and part numbers. Generally speaking, the more products you allow the more favorable the pricing will be. Therefore you should certainly list at least two - three products.




Step 10 - Implement project


If the city’s own staff are doing the installation this will obviously require more oversight than if an outside contractor is used. Some cities have used a combination of their own personnel and an outside contractor to install the luminaires. Based on cost and project schedule this can add significant flexibility to the project.

A realistic schedule should be developed that will allow the supplier to deliver the products consistent with the city’s ability to have them installed.