Report Says Mediumband is ‘Sweet Spot’ for LED Lighting

Replacing traditional street lighting with LEDs can reduce a campus or municipality’s energy bill by half. But what are the most cost-effective ways to implement such energy-saving technology?

According to a new report by Echelon, a company that designs control networks, the choice between narrowband, mediumband and broadband can prove confusing for decision-makers. The report says mediumband provides the most flexibility, functionality and cost savings.

“The challenge for municipalities and universities is to balance current and future requirements against the costs and benefits of different network options,” said Navigant Research Associate Director, Richelle Elberg. “Control solutions that utilize medium bandwidth technologies lie at the sweet spot for many cities and campuses.”

According to the report, Smart Street Lighting as a Smart City Platform:

  • Mediumband networking solutions occupy the sweet spot, balancing cost and support for the largest number of high-value smart city applications.
  • Installation of networking and controls simultaneously with LED deployments will reduce overall costs, increase the efficiency and functionality of street lighting and provide a platform for future smart city applications.
  • The right smart street lighting platform can help cities deal with issues such as crime and antisocial behavior, pedestrian and driver safety, and city revitalization projects.
  • Cities need to outline long-term goals and priorities before selecting a smart street lighting network. They should also recognize that the right solution may combine more than one technology for different applications; for example, mediumband for most applications and dedicated fiber or Pt2Mpt for security cameras.
  • In a world that depends on ubiquitous access to power and connectivity, the street lighting network is a valuable asset. In addition to improving the efficiency and value of city services, that network can also become a source of new revenue for the city.

Mediumband options for smart lighting consist of PLC, RF Mesh and Hybrid PLC/Mesh. The report states that PLC carries the signal over power lines that are already connected to most street lights. For that reason, outside of the United States and the United Kingdom, PLC has traditionally been the leading method of communicating with outdoor lights in a networked system. An RF mesh network forms a web-like network topology. Any node not in direct communication range of its target destination (a gateway or collector) will have its data relayed by another node in the mesh (e.g., another street light). Hybrid PLC/Mesh technology allows communication to hop from PLC to wireless and back seamlessly while always staying connected.

Smart street lighting offers benefits such as energy monitoring, performance monitoring, color controls and adaptive lighting. Just this month officials in Buncombe County, NC, announced it will swap out 47,000 light fixtures in its school district with LED bulbs, saving the county nearly $1 million in energy costs. Similarly, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania added LED lighting to its athletic and recreation center in February. The move is expected to save the private liberal arts school $2.1 million over a 20-year period.

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