Go Solar: Ultimate Guide to Commercial Street Lights
Posted by Stephen Shickadance in Most Popular. Solar FAQs. Applications of Solar Lighting. Solar Lighting Design.
Many types, models, and options populate the world of commercial street lights. Some lights boast more power, while others go for optimal energy efficiency. From power source to height, hue to color temperature, LEDs, and solar alternatives, navigating all of the options and their ramifications can seem a bit daunting. Each type of street light has a specific use in which it can really shine, and no single street light is appropriate for every task.
Whether you're looking to light a golf course, parking lot, or campus, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the different types of street lights, how to figure out how many street lights you need, and where to find the best commercial street lights on the market. Here is everything you need to know about commercial street lights, as well as a few recommendations for the best lights to buy, depending on your use case.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Commercial Street Light
Before we can get into the buying guide, we have to cover some background information about streetlights. Myths about commercial street lights, LED lighting, and solar lights often overshadow the truth, and both first-time street lighting buyers and veterans can benefit from a little brush-up on the facts. Here are some key things to know and factors to consider when trying to find the best commercial street lights for sale.
Blue Light and Correlated Color Temperature
Lights that produce a clean, cold shade of white actually contain many other colors within them. That sterile, fluorescent white contains a high concentration of blue light. The US Department of Energy defines blue light as all light with a wavelength between ~424 and ~500 nanometers.
Also called short wavelength light, the Department of Energy has warned that blue light can have adverse health effects. Photoreceptors in the human eye detect day and night cycles by tracking the amount of blue light they receive. According to a study conducted by Dr. Joshua J. Gooley of Duke-NUS in Singapore, exposure to blue light can interfere with these receptors, potentially impacting sleep, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and your body's ability to regulate its own temperature.
Correlated Color Temperature is an index used to describe a light's color temperature, including its blue light content. A higher CCT usually means a light puts off more blue light. Most lights beyond about 3000 K CCT put off a significant quantity of blue light and should be avoided. Mercury and fluorescent lighting fixtures emit more blue light than most other lighting fixtures.
Look for a warm white tone — between yellow and a cold, sterile white. Lights with this hue illuminate roads clearly while taking it easy on the eyes.
How Many Watts Should a Street Light Be?
You may ask yourself: "How many watts should a street light be?" However, when looking to purchase a commercial street light or lighting system, that's not quite the right question. Watts are a measure of power consumption. The relationship of power consumption to overall brightness will vary significantly depending on the type of light you select.
In street lighting of the past, watts and lumens correlated to one another directly. Today, however, we use so many different types of light that watts no longer serve as a good measurement of brightness.
Lumens for Light Measurement
To measure the amount of light emitted by any source, we use a unit called lumens. The more lumens a light has, the more illumination it offers. So, how many lumens should a commercial street light emit?
Street lights vary in power from about 1,000 lumens to about 10,000 lumens. The right number of lumens for you will vary depending on the specifics of your project, like how high you hang your lights and how far apart you place them, but these general guidelines may help you determine the right number of lumens for you.
You can use watts to measure something else vital, though. Calculate the energy efficiency of a light by dividing its lumen output by its energy consumption. For example, the 260 Pro Solar Lighting Fixture from Greenshine can either supply 3929 lumens at 30 watts (3929/30; an efficiency of ~131 lumens/watt), or supply 5288 lumens and consume 40 watts of power (5288/40; an efficiency of ~132.2 lumens/watt).
Meanwhile, the 290D Solar Lighting Fixture outputs 3990 and 5186 lumens of light at 30 and 40 watts, respectively, for an efficiency of 133 lumens/watt (3990/30) and 129.65 lumens/watt (5186/40). Shopping for a more efficient commercial street light can help cut energy costs in the case of conventional lights and increase reliability in the case of commercial solar street lights.
How Long Do LED Street Lights Last?
Commercial LED street lights last longer than traditional sodium bulbs, often shining bright for up to 50,000 hours of use, or 11 to 15 years (assuming 8 to 12 hours of use per day). Many commercial street lighting systems now offer custom control settings through a smartphone app. Many property owners use this feature to conserve use-hours, saving themselves utility money and extending the life of their LED bulbs.
How Tall is an Average Street Light?
Street lights are 9 to 14 feet tall typically. However, commercial street lights used on pedestrian walkways are often shorter. Changing the height of a street light can affect the range the light can cover. For example, if you take two identical street light fixtures and place them at different heights, the taller street light will cast a wider, less intense glow than the shorter street light.
What Is the Best Distance Between Two Street Lights?
The ideal distance between commercial street lights depends on the height of the post. The diameter of the circle the light forms on the ground under the light will roughly equal the height of the light in the air, relative to the ground. If every post has the same height, all posts should have equal distance from one another. If some posts are shorter than others, add the heights of any two adjacent posts together and divide by two to find the optimal distance between those two commercial street light posts.
For angled posts, measure from the position of the light source itself, rather than from the base of the post, since the light cone will sit a distance away from the base post.
How Many Street Lights Do I Need?
The number of street lights you need depends on the area you want to cover and your required brightness. Larger areas that need a lot of brightness will require more street lights than smaller areas that could stand to stay a bit dim. If hung at a reasonable height, most street lights will cast light in every direction equal to their distance from the ground.
Let's suppose you need to illuminate a uniform 264 by 900 square foot area (the average size of a city block in Manhattan) and hang your lights at 14 feet. First, find the total area illuminated by each light (using the area of a circle formula (A = π r²), which in this case yields ~154 ft (remember that radius is equal to one half of diameter and, in this case, the diameter is equal to the height of the post). Then, find the total area of the space you want to illuminate (264 * 900), 237,600 square feet.
Finally, divide the total square footage of the area by the area illuminated by each light (~1,543 in this case). We've just determined that it would take 1,543 street lights hung at 14 feet to illuminate a uniform area the size of a Manhattan city block. However, you may not always find yourself working with a uniform area in need of lighting. Most plots of land aren't perfect squares, and calculating the necessary number of lights for an irregular area can get complicated. Thankfully, there's a simple solution.
To find the number of commercial street lights necessary to illuminate an irregularly shaped area, first divide the area into regular sections (that is, sections that are themselves simple shapes), and calculate the area of each of those regions. Then, find the number of lights necessary for each region, and add up that number. That way, you can make all of the necessary calculations without having to go beyond basic multiplication and geometry.
How to Choose the Best Commercial Street Light
Now that you have a solid background on street light basics, we’ll show you how to narrow down your street light options with our commercial street light buying guide.
Is Solar or Traditional Power Better for Street Lights?
Both solar and traditionally powered street lights enjoy widespread use across the world. However, the increased popularity of solar in recent years implies that it will slowly overtake traditionally powered light sources for street lighting.
Traditionally powered lighting connects to the regular power grid, and its environmental impact depends entirely on how your existing grid receives its power. Solar powered street lights receive power from a solar panel, usually on or near the unit. You may decide to connect your solar lights to the grid as a backup, but power consumption of solar lights on the grid stays near zero in most locations.
Commercial street light installation is typically less costly with solar power because it does not require trenching to bury new power lines. If trenching is not required, traditionally powered street lights sometimes cost less than solar powered lights in the short term, but their energy costs will quickly make up that difference. Plus, solar powered LED street lights cost next to nothing to maintain, making them the most environmentally friendly street lighting option, and also the cheapest.
Consider Local Regulations for Street Lights
Most areas have strict laws regulating what kinds of lighting fixtures can line the streets. Regulations will usually include guidelines for height, brightness (measured in lumens), maximum wattage, and CCT. Some of these ordinances just help keep public spaces safe, uniformly lit, and relatively free of blue light. Others aim to reduce light pollution so that residents can enjoy the night sky.
The International Dark Sky Association is the authority on light pollution and the leading organization combating the phenomenon worldwide. In recent years, the International Dark Sky association has enjoyed a number of major victories for its cause in the United States, including light pollution-reducing ordinances in 19 of the 50 states. Due to this recent boom in light pollution legislation, check local laws to make sure none of the fixtures you pick out risk breaking the law. These ordinances may limit the brightness, location, energy usage, or hours of operation of any commercial street lights.
If you work in an industry that must report energy consumption to the EPA, you must disclose energy consumed by light sources, including those used to light roadways. Solar lights can help here, too, since they draw virtually zero power from the grid once installed.
Select the Right Design and Style for Your Commercial Street Light
Most street lights have a bold, utilitarian look. However, commercial decorative street lights can bring a softer, more familiar tone to any outdoor space. Solar LED street lights even come in nostalgic styles, bringing some 19th century elegance with all the modern convenience and efficiency of contemporary solar and LED technology.
Different models also come with different posts, which also come in different heights. While most lights can sit atop a variety of different posts, some (like those that cast light horizontally rather than downwards) pair more naturally with shorter posts. Of course, the higher the post, the larger the area of coverage, so try to find a good balance between ambiance and utility when deciding on height.
Greenshine's solar commercial LED street lights come in a variety of styles and wattages to suit any budget and project. Greenshine also offers complete solar lighting systems in addition to individual fixtures, so you can get everything you need to set up a modern, efficient, and effective network of commercial street lights without hunting for each component separately. We use long-lasting Cree LEDs, state-of-the-art solar technology, and even offer competitive financing options.
Greenshine New Energy specializes in developing and manufacturing customized solar outdoor LED lighting systems for a wide range of lighting applications. We provide cost-effective, industry-leading, and proprietary solar lighting solutions for commercial, residential, and industrial projects. Our solar LED light systems are installed at over 5000 locations all around the world. Get in touch today to learn how our commercial street lighting solutions can work for you.
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