Don’t get left in the dark

Outdoor lighting is a topic of hot debate at the moment with some arguing that it is necessary to keep people safe, while others argue that it can be switched off to make energy savings.

It is a good way to save energy because if the lights aren’t switched on they are not costing anything, but it isn’t the most popular solution. Indeed some local authorities have taken this very step to reduce costs, switching off street lighting in certain areas. But while these measures will help them to reduce their energy bills, it has caused a huge amount of backlash, with many citizens concerned about safety on the streets at night.

But this isn’t just about popularity, because switching the lights off, whether it is on the streets or in the car park of an office building, is neither practical nor necessary. The simple fact is that you don’t need to switch off the lights in order to make savings because we do have technology which will allow you to achieve energy efficiency in outdoor lighting.

Efficient dimming

Occupancy related lighting in buildings is a very familiar concept to all of us and most commercial buildings take advantage of presence and absence detectors to ensure that lights are only switched on when people are in the building and occupying a particular space.

So while I agree that this isn’t very practical for outdoor lighting, there is a solution on the market which acts in the same way by responding to local night time cycles, dimming the lighting up and down when necessary.

Novarius electronic ballasts for high intensity discharge lamps have been developed with a focus on the future and as a result it can significantly reduce the costs of installations by reducing the light output without compromising on safety.

The geoDIM technology adapts its dimming behaviour to actual, local and real-time night cycles automatically, working reliably in all degrees of latitude from the equator to 65. parallel near the arctic circle. What this means is that it can respond to both regional and seasonal variations in night time lengths to produce an optimum cycle which ensures that light is available when and where it is needed.

The system calculates the real night length based on the switch on/off patterns of several nights – the calculated real night time is then the basis for an energy optimised dimming curve that is set without programming. So the dimming curve would mean that there is 100% light output for the first 30% of the night; 50% light output for the next 50% of the night and then 100% light output for 20% of the ending night cycle.

What this gives you is an intelligent, automatic dimming technology which helps to save energy and costs by reducing the light output when less light is needed without compromising the safety of the people in the immediate vicinity.

The need for light

There is no getting away from the fact that people need light and where car parks or other communal areas are concerned we must balance the need for safety with the need to make energy savings. Most people would agree that we simply cannot compromise on safety and therefore a solution like this is the obvious answer.

The use of intelligent dimming technology allows for energy savings to be made because it automatically dims down when less light is needed. But it also answers the need for safety and as a result it is great for those local authorities who are looking to save costs– and they won’t have the additional worry of angry residents who have had their street lights switched off.

But it is equally suitable for commercial building car parks and other, similar communal areas where not only will it allow savings to be made on energy bills, it will also send out the right message for companies who are keen to promote the green message – it can be very damaging for a company if the public can see a brightly lit car park which is empty because all of the building occupants have left for the day.

Despite the fact that we are all striving to make energy savings we have to take a sensible approach and switching the lights off is not the answer as many local authorities have found out. Commercial building owners and managers have a huge amount of intelligent technology at their disposal and most are not afraid to use it inside the buildings to reduce their energy bills. Does it not then follow that if the technology is available for outdoor lighting which allows savings to be made without putting people at risk we should be using it – after all what price do you put on safety?

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