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Street lighting and General Illumination options for residential complexes: HPSV, LED, Fluorescent and Solar

By on January 28, 2020

Street lighting and general illumination are very important for security in all residential complexes. Parking lots and pathways should be lit uniformly as it provides a sense of security. Although lighting may be a small portion of a residential complex’s electricity bills it is a very important aspect for the well being of the residents. Lately, with rising electricity bills, management committees of various residential complexes have started thinking about various ways of cutting down the electricity bills and interestingly their first target is the lighting. So we thought of giving some idea about various options that are available for street lighting at various places.

Specifications of effective street lighting or general illumination system

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has set specific standards for street lighting at various locations (can be accessed through http://www.standardsbis.in/Gemini/home/Home.action). But here are the general things that one should consider while setting up a lighting system:

  1. High Lamp Efficiency: Try to get more lumens (or brightness) per watt of energy.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Low operating costs.
  3. Life of the system: More life is better.
  4. Good Color Rendering: Helps object appear more natural and pleasing.
  5. Proper light distribution: Provides light in the right areas.
  6. Proper aesthetics: Blends with the surroundings.

Retrofitting an existing system and various types of lighting options available

The builders build most residential complexes and we hope that they follow the standards from BIS. The real challenge starts when a society takes over which becomes responsible for the payment of electricity bills and maintenance of the system. In some cases lack of information makes them pick up wrong choices. So first let us look at various options that are available:

  1. Halogen (Mercury Vapor) Lamps: These are most commonly used lamps for pole lighting and street lighting till the beginning of 21st century. They provide very less brightness per watt and thus a higher wattage bulb is required. Most common streetlights use about 150-180 Watts Mercury Vapor lamps. They also have less lamp life of about 10000 hrs.
  2. Sodium Vapor lamps: These are the energy-efficient options for halogen lamps as they provide double the amount of brightness for the same amount of wattage. These are also ideal for pole lighting. They have a few drawbacks though: a) their brightness is highest in the centre (just below the pole) and is lesser on the outside. b) they are mostly yellow or orange in colour with poor Color rendering index and thus mostly used for highway/street lighting. Still, if a Halogen is replaced with Sodium Vapor lamp, 20-25% savings can be achieved. It also has a high lamp life of 18000-24000 hrs.
  3. Metal Halide lamps: These bulbs are as energy-efficient as Sodium Vapor lamps and also come with whiter lights but their life is less (8000-12000 hrs).
  4. Fluorescent Lamps: At many places, tube lights are used for lighting and general lamination. Tubelights, in general, are available in lower wattages and they cannot produce the same kind of brightness as a Halogen or Sodium Vapor lamp. So they should not be used to replace Halogen lamps, as they cannot produce the same amount of brightness. But if any complex has an existing lighting system using old T12 or T8 tube lights, then it was considered for replacing with T5 tube lights but now LED lights are the best option. CFLs were never used for larger areas, as their brightness per watts is less than tube lights. T12 or T8 or T5 tube lights have a life of 5000-10000-20000 hrs but that of LED tube lights is 25000 to 50000 hrs.
  5. CFLs: These should be used only for lighting small areas. They were used for a replacement to incandescent bulbs during the 2010s  and now completely taken over by LED lamps.
  6. LEDs:  These are the latest and most energy-efficient options available in the market for street lighting. Their brightness is much more uniform and can give up to 50% savings over Sodium Vapor lamps and now prices ata reasonable price. They also produce less glare and can reduce visual fatigue for drivers and pedestrians. LEDs are also available with the solar option that can be an attractive and cost-saving (but again one has to evaluate the payback period and should be ready for the same and useful only when grid power is now available since it will be using a battery to store the power). Typically they are rated to last for about 25 years, but as per feedback from some of our readers, it needs to be protected from rust and insects to last longer. The problem of rust and insect ingress is with all types of lamps since the fitting is not properly designed for particular ingress protection. One should always look for IP65 to avoid these problems. 

Retrofitting ideas

For Pole Lights:

If pole lights have halogens (150-180 W) then the most ideal replacement for them is a High-Pressure Sodium Vapor lamp (70 W) or a similar wattage Metal Halide lamp before LED became affordable. This can give up to 25% savings ( electricity is consumed by ballasts also) which can be up to 16 units a month for 12 hours of use per day which roughly converts to Rs 100-150 saving per light per month at an average cost of electricity in India. If LEDs are used as replacements then a 48W LED panel is ideal for replacement of a 150-180 W Halogen. CFLs should not be used for replacement on pole lights.

For Old Tubelights:

Wherever old tube lights are there in the complex, they were planned for replacement with 28 W T5 tube light. It was giving straightaway 40% savings (or 4-8 units per month for 12 hours use per day which roughly converts to Rs 30-80 saving per month per tube light at average electricity rates in India). This gets paid back within a year of use. But now it has been taken over by LED tube light without requiring any high-cost implication.

Parking Areas:

T5 tube lights were the option for parking areas before LED became economical. Halogens or HPSV lamps are too bright for parking areas and T5 tube lights were providing better options. T5 tube light is good to cover about 300 sq ft of area and with LED one can get similar performance.

For other common areas like floor lighting etc

If the areas are big, T5 tube lights were used earlier and now taken over by LED tube lights.  If areas are small (less than 200 sq ft), 20W or lower wattage waCFLs were used and now the consumer is using LED lamp as a retro fitment.

Using Solar Street Lighting (All-in-one Street Lights)

Solar street lighting is very promising street lighting option during the first decade of this century and one can still find such street lights in operation. Now in what cases the solar street lighting can be a good option

  1. Grid supply is not available nearby;
  2. Even if the grid supply is available nearby, it requires huge investment for laying the cable;
  3. Overhead wire impairs the aesthetic of the area; and
  4. Most suitable for the hilly area where laying cables/overhead line is a challenge.
  5. Solar lights are more affordable with LED lights since LED can work on DC

One can plan for All-in-one Street Lights which consists and having a fine control for usage

Integrated Design of say 90W LED Chips, 6V, 60W Polycrystalline Solar Module; and 3.2V, 16,000mAh Lithium Battery; Auto ON/OFF, charging time: 6-8 hrs; Lighting time >12 hrs; IP 65; Install Height: 4-6 meters; Optically Controlled Motion Sensor for control of brightness as per requirement with motion sensor detection to control the illumination. The job integration is done by other than those who are branded in the field of manufacturing the LED lights. Therefore, quality, life, performance of the sensor needs to be discussed with the supplier in detail.


Buying Options on Amazon

Street Lights

Always look for IP65 protection and warm light of 2700K temperature shall be acceptable.

https://amzn.to/2rSIlli IP66, 120lm/W, 30W https://amzn.to/33KGgFm IP65; 4300lm; 30W
https://amzn.to/2Y9FznS IP65, 48W, 140lm/W https://amzn.to/34FX6Xk IP65, 40W, 6500K

Parking and Corridor lighting

Visit our webpage for options and buying at amazon.







About the Author:
Abhishek Jain is an Alumnus of IIT Bombay with almost 10 years of experience in corporate before starting Bijli Bachao in 2012. His passion for solving problems moved him towards Energy Sector and he is keen to learn about customer behavior towards Energy and find ways to influence the same towards Sustainability. .