Advantages of public LED lighting

Advantages of public LED lighting in the cities
Advantages of public LED lighting

LED lights for public lighting? Let's try to understand in this article what are the advantages of choosing LED lighting in cities: many advantages for the Public Administration and for citizens. It is well known that LED lighting is more efficient from an energy point of view, has a longer duration and is more sustainable, but the advantages for public lighting certainly do not end there, let's explore them all in detail.

Efficiency and energy saving

One of the main advantages of LED public lighting is the reduced energy consumption: LEDs consume much less energy than traditional lamps to offer the same light output. In fact, LED lighting, compared with traditional lighting sources, leads to considerable savings: the average savings obtained using LED lighting is about 93% compared to incandescent lamps - 90% compared to halogen lamps - 70% compared to metal halide lamps - 66% compared to fluorescent lamps.

Extended life and no maintenance required

The use of LEDs in public lighting has significantly changed the concept of maintenance. Compared to traditional public lighting (made with sodium vapor lamps, fluorescent lamps or metal halide lamps) which made it necessary to replace the lamps even every year, LED lighting, thanks to recent technological upgrades, reaches and exceeds 100,000 hours, or over twenty years of operation. An incredible advantage both for municipal administrations, which do not have to constantly spend on the maintenance of street lamps or worry about spare parts, and for citizens, who no longer incur frequent breakdowns and continuous reports.

Color temperature

Another advantage of LED lighting is the color temperature of the source which can be changed. Color temperature is a physical quantity and is measured in Kelvin degrees (K) and determines the hue of light. The lower the Kelvin number, the "warmer" the light, the higher the number, the "colder" it is. LED lighting does not have a specific color temperature, but can be modulated according to the required application. A study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has shown how 4000K LED public street lighting allows drivers to identify the presence of pedestrians and obstacles more easily and at greater distances than other color temperatures, both higher and lower. , considered. Consequently, the 4000K could be considered the ideal choice from the point of view of safety on roads with the presence of pedestrians and cyclists. 

Why do we use Kelvin degrees to indicate color temperature?

The color temperature, as we said previously, is a scientific value, expressed in Kelvin degrees, which we associate with the different color shades of the light emitted by a lighting body. On a scale ranging from 1000 to 12,000 the higher the number of degrees Kelvin, the bluer (cold) the light will appear vice versa, the lower the number of degrees Kelvin, the more the light will tend to yellow (warm). 

Color temperature of sunlight in kelvin degrees
In physics, Kelvin degrees are used because it is the same unit of measurement that defines the temperature at which stars burn. The stars, in fact, emit light by burning large quantities of gas. The temperature at which these gases burn is measured in degrees Kelvin and, as the temperature changes, the color that the star emits also changes: colors ranging from yellow, white and blue. For example, if a star burns at temperatures ranging from 2700K to 4000K, it is a yellow star. 

No polluting or health-threatening chemical materials

The LED does not pollute and does not contain dangerous substances: it is essentially composed of silicon powder, it does not have other harmful gases or toxic substances, unlike fluorescent lamps and discharge lamps (metal halides and sodium vapors). The LEDs produce energy through an electronic component which, thanks to the passage of a minimum amount of electrical energy, emits a light without infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV): no part of the energy that is transformed into light is outside. of the visible spectrum. Furthermore, as they do not contain mercury or other substances dangerous to human health, they are easier to dispose of (despite being WEEE waste) and are 95% recyclable.

What is WEEE waste?

The acronym Waste of Electric and Electronic equipment (WEEE) means what remains at the end of life of equipment that required electric currents or electromagnetic fields for operation.

For an appropriate separate collection, WEEE has been divided, on the basis of homogeneity characteristics, into 5 groups:

R1 – refrigerators, freezers, other large appliances for refrigeration and air conditioning.
R2 – washing machines, dishwashers, cooking appliances, microwave ovens, electric heaters and other large electrical appliances.
R3 – TV and monitor with or without cathode ray tube.
R4 – small appliances such as irons, vacuum cleaners, blenders, fans, telephones, photovoltaic panels.
R5 – light sources (fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, high intensity discharge lamps, including high pressure sodium vapor lamps and metal halide lamps, low pressure sodium vapor lamps, LED lamps).

The treatment of WEEE guarantees enormous environmental and health benefits but the elimination and safety of dangerous substances, such as mercury present in traditional public lighting lamps, has a high cost and the recovery of materials, which can be used for new applications, it is more limited.

Disposal of traditional lighting fixtures

The treatment technology used for fluorescent tubes, for example, is the crushing called "crush and sieve process", which consists in the shredding of the light sources and in the consequent separation of the individual components and capture, through suction and filtration processes, of the mercury and of fluorescent powders. The remaining glass, washed and shredded, can thus find new applications in building products (for example glass wool and insulation) or in the vitrification processes of tile surfaces.

Disposal of LED lighting fixtures

An end-of-life LED public lighting fixture can be recycled almost in its entirety (on average over 95%) and does not require special processes for capturing gas or other polluting materials during its disposal: a fair economic advantage, both for the realization of the process itself that for the environment.

Reduction of CO2 emissions from public lighting

Another advantage of public LED lighting is that of drastically reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main cause of the greenhouse effect. LED streetlights use much less energy than traditional sources, consequently the consumption in kW / hr per year is much lower and contributes to the reduction of CO2, for more eco-sustainable cities. Choosing to convert public lighting to LED is therefore a valid strategy for reducing energy costs and the carbon footprint on the planet.

What does the term LED mean?

But what exactly does the word LED mean? The acronym LED derives from the English phrase Light Emitting Diode which literally means light emitting diode. The LED represents the evolution of solid-state lighting, in which the generation of light is obtained using semiconductors rather than using a filament or a gas

When was LED technology born?

LED technology was first developed in 1962 by Nick Holonyak Jr. while working for General Electric. By exploiting the properties of some semiconductor materials capable of emitting photons, and therefore light, following the application of an electric potential.

The first practical realization of an LED took place in 1968, with the production of devices that emitted light only in red color. The first LEDs in question, however, had a very low power, for this reason, they were not sufficient to illuminate the space. They were therefore only used as a substitute for classic indicators or in seven-segment displays.

Who is Shuji Nakamura? The revolutionary inventor of the blue light LED.

The real breakthrough in the development of LED technology as a source of lighting came in the early 90s thanks to the brilliant intuition of the Japanese physicist Shuji Nakamura. Shuji Nakamura together with Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano (then awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014) managed for the first time to generate a beam of blue light from semiconductor materials

Official image of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 Shuji Nakamura

Official image of the 2014 Nobel Prize. Note the insistent presence of the blue color in the illustration, which finally makes it possible to create the “yellow” light.
As previously mentioned, until then there were only red and then green light LEDs, but in both cases it was not possible to produce white light from these devices, which, among other things, had a very low power. The green and red diodes, in fact, without a source of blue light did not have the possibility to create a white light that adds the three components. 

For years, overcoming this obstacle has been a real challenge for physicists all over the world, seeing enormous technological potential in the LED.

The revolutionary discovery of the blue light LED

In 1993 at Nichia Chemical Industries in Japan Shuji Nakamura managed to create the first blue light LED using a different semiconductor. The importance of the invention was considerable because blue is a primary color and by combining the three basic monochromatic lights (red, blue and green) through special software, it was possible to obtain white light (and lights of any other color).
From that brilliant intuition, the first multi-chip LEDs (with three chips of the three fundamental colors) with white light were born, which in a few years revolutionized the entire sector, thanks also to their energy efficiency, starting a fundamental transformation in the lighting sector and in the whole world that has continued over the years until today. Precisely for this reason, the joint invention of Shuji Nakamura, Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in 2014

Sandro Cini Managing Director di AEC Illuminazione, Shuji Nakamura Premio Nobel per la Fisica 2014 e Luca Vagheggi AEC Optical Developer, durante il conferimento del Dottorato Honoris Causa in Energia e Sviluppo Sostenibile al prof. Shuji Nakamura dell’Ateneo di Perugia.
Sandro Cini Managing Director of AEC Illuminazione, Shuji Nakamura Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 and Luca Vagheggi AEC Optical Developer, during the awarding of the Honoris Causa Doctorate in Energy and Sustainable Development to prof. Shuji Nakamura of the University of Perugia.

How to take advantage of the advantages of LED public lighting

As we have seen, the advantages of LED lighting are many and we can summarize them as follows: 

  • Life of the LED light source over 100.000 hours.
  • No maintenance costs.
  • High efficiency compared to traditional public lighting and CO2 reduction.
  • Light without IR and UV components because no part of the energy transformed into light is outside the visible spectrum.
  • Safe operation, because the LED works at very low voltage.
  • Less heat generated in the environment than other traditional lighting technologies.
  • Correct operation even at very low temperatures (up to -40 °C) without problems.
  • Absence of mercury or dangerous substances.
  • Possibility of creating compact luminaires due to the reduced dimensional impact.
  • Reduced size of the light source which can be modulated at will thanks to the use of lenses or specific optics.
  • Possibility to adjust the light intensity. 
The commercial strength of LED public lighting fixtures is based on their ability to obtain high luminous flux with very low consumption and on their high reliability, especially in conditions of mechanical stress. It is therefore clear how public LED lighting can really make a difference for citizens but above all for public administrations that are able to have significant savings in terms of operating costs.

At what point is the conversion of public lighting to LED?

Despite all the indisputable advantages of public LED lighting, the road to total energy efficiency is still long, with the replacement of old lighting technologies with efficient LEDs.

According to a survey by market analyst Arthur D. Little, this is less than 15% of the 320 million LED street lights installed worldwide. The European average is even lower but with profound differences between cities and various geographical areas: in Milan, for example, since 2015 100% of street lamps are LED.

Make your lighting system more efficient and sustainable.

Contact us to find out how to improve the energy sustainability of your lighting by adopting the latest LED technology, whether it is a public lighting project, a sports one, or an industrial interior efficiency project. Together we design modern and sustainable lighting that pays for itself after the first few years of use.

Discover our LED products for street, urban and tunnel public lighting but also for artistic, sports and industrial interior lighting.

For over 60 years we have been providing technologically advanced solutions, made entirely in the Tuscan company headquarters and with our sales network present in over 50 countries around the world, we offer consultancy and design to redevelop any type of LED system lighting. 

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