New Approach to LEDs Could Reduce Costs of Public Lighting

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KARLSRUHE, Germany, April 5, 2019 — To increase LED streetlight efficiency, a team at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed an array of weaker LEDs to use as an alternative to conventional high-performance diodes. Streetlights with the new light heads will be tested in the municipality of Maxdorf, Rhineland Palatinate, and are expected to reduce power consumption by about 20% and decrease CO2 emissions. Central to the new design is a smart circuit that compensates for aging and failure of individual LEDs.

The new street lights tested in Maxdorf consume less power and are much brighter. Courtesy of Tanja Meißner/KIT.
The new streetlights tested in Maxdorf consume less power and are much brighter. Courtesy of Tanja Meißner/KIT.

With the new approach, it will be possible to install a large number of LEDs on a single board at low cost. Moreover, the new LEDs will be safer, because the new switching concept is operated at voltages of 20 V compared to the 120 V required for traditional LED boards.

In the future, cities and municipalities could reduce power consumption by using the new type of LED. According to Maxdorf’s utility company, illuminating a medium-sized city requires about 55,000 lamps, 35% of which are LEDs. The city’s power consumption totaled about 10,800 Mwh in 2018, resulting in annual power and maintenance costs of €3 million. “If all streetlights are equipped with novel LEDs, cost reductions of up to 30% will be possible,” said Stefan Lang at Pfalzwerke, the utility company for Maxdorf.

In addition, the new LEDs are more comfortable for the human eye. “Many small LEDs are perceived as panel radiators from a certain distance,” said Klaus Müller, managing director of Gratz Luminance GmbH. “Their glaring effect is smaller than that of high-performance LEDs that are perceived as spot-like light sources.”

The low-power LEDs are also cheaper than high-power LEDs, making a streetlight system less expensive to build, even though more LEDs would be required. Changing over to the new lamp technology is uncomplicated and inexpensive. “Our light head can be installed onto existing poles,” Müller said.

Series production is being prepared. “We hope that we can offer the lamp to selected pilot customers in the second half of 2019,” Müller said.

Published: April 2019
Research & TechnologyBusinessEuropeLEDsLight SourcesDisplaysenergyConsumerKarlsruhe Institute of Technologystreetlightspublic lightingEnergy Efficiency

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