Internet of Things pioneer Echelon Corporation is currently conducting what is believed to be the first successful deployment of so-called “white tunable” connected streetlighting with the municipal leaders of White Bear Lake, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and design firm Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. The new Lumewave by Echelon® solution can dynamically regulate the amount of potentially unhealthy blue light emitted from outdoor lighting. With this ground-breaking innovation, city managers can adjust streetlight color from soothing warm yellow to bright blue-white based on activity levels, time of day, weather and events. Dimming levels can also be remotely adjusted, making the system ideal to aid visibility for first responders, security professionals and more.
“Being the first to try this new technology and see it in action was very rewarding,” said Mark Burch, Public Works Director/City Engineer, White Bear Lake. “We could raise the brightness and select a more vivid hue during an evening event. With a scheduled scenario, we could shift the lights in that same area to a warmer hue at 2:00am when there are rarely park visitors, other than our nocturnal wildlife. We could also program sensors along with the lights to automatically respond to higher foot traffic or certain weather conditions for optimal visibility. The new technology could give us the power to elevate the level of public safety and quality of life across our entire community.”
This next-generation, connected LED lighting control technology enables municipalities to realize the full scope of LED streetlighting benefits, from improved public safety and reduced energy consumption and reduced maintenance and costs, to better health, quality of life and environmental comfort. White Bear Lake’s successful implementation of Echelon’s new technology is an example of the company’s commitment to foster safer and more comfortable cities through IoT-enabled connected lighting.
“Municipalities now have the power to create the perfect environment at any given time,” said Ron Sege, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Echelon. “Imagine the improved public safety if all of the streetlights in an area were immediately whiter and brighter when a 911 call was responded to, but otherwise dimmer and more yellow at night for restful sleep. Cities need not compromise safety for comfort or vice versa. Our technology is paving the way for smart cities to improve quality of life, while still achieving energy efficiency and sustainability goals.”
American Medical Association vs. LED Benefits
The American Medical Association issued a policy statement about the harmful effects of outdoor high-intensity, LED lighting on humans and the environment. The guidelines put forth a recommendation for communities to control blue-rich lighting to reduce glare and discomfort. The AMA also warns that the blue-rich LED lights can suppress melatonin, which can negatively impact human circadian rhythmicity causing poor sleep quality, among other health concerns. According to the guidelines, outdoor streetlighting should have a color temperature of no greater than 3000 Kelvin (K) at nighttime.
On the flip side of the issue, lighting researchers and experts counsel that, if the lights are either too yellow or too dim, visibility and public safety may be compromised. The Department of Energy supports the use of LED streetlights because they consume approximately 50% less energy than the common high-pressure sodium and metal-halide lamps. They also last longer which has cost-saving appeal for many municipalities. Each side of the debate has valid points, forcing city managers to ultimately believe they must make a choice between health or public safety.
It’s Now Possible to Have All of the Benefits of LEDs Outdoors
While many municipal leaders and sustainability managers may feel the pressure to make the right choice, Echelon has engineered a solution that doesn’t force people to choose one set of LED streetlight benefits over another. Echelon is the first to give municipalities the power to adjust the white color and brightness level – as needed.
In a first-of-its-kind demonstration, the forward-thinking leaders of White Bear Lake were able to adjust both the light level and the white color range in its city park lighting. By being able to tune from warm white (2700 Kelvin) all the way to cool white (5500 Kelvin), city managers can modify outdoor lighting to enhance quality of life without compromising visibility or public safety. A warm white of 2700K was preferred for times with low activity, while higher color temperature of 4500K was deemed to provide better visibility for times with higher activity and during public events.
“There has been a lot of controversy in the industry regarding the color of light generated by outdoor lighting and the possible harmful effects it may cause to humans and the surrounding ecosystems. This issue forces agencies to select the preferred color temperature before installation of a lighting system,” said Ken Taillon, Manager of Municipal Lighting Services, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., who led the project engineering. “With Echelon’s innovative technology, agencies no longer have to choose the color temperature during the design process. Tuning the color of white light in conjunction with adjusting the brightness level provides opportunities we’ve never had before. Lighting systems can now respond to the dynamic needs associated with providing necessary public safety while rendering colors and light levels that are more appropriate for lighting the after-hour nighttime environment.”
Custom color tunable lamps, drivers and controls provide the capability to easily shift from cool white light to warm white light, offering endless options for smart cities. For example:
4000K and higher lighting is ideal for:
- Higher levels of activity
- High risk areas such as intersections, on/off ramps, parking lots and dark alleys
- Emergency scenes and first responders
- Commercial areas with signage
3000K and lower lighting is ideal for:
- Delicate nighttime illumination
- Historic and residential neighborhoods
- Natural environments such as forests, parks and sanctuaries
Echelon’s smart streetlighting infrastructure serves as a platform that allows smart cities to integrate IoT applications as needed. Coming together to create this next-generation infrastructure is Echelon’s new CLP 4000 connected lighting controller, SmartServer™ 2.2 converged universal gateway and LumInsight® central management system (CMS). The combined solutions can set color scenes based on a programmed schedule, sensor inputs or manual adjustment.
Based on customer interest, Echelon expects to make this new solution available more broadly in 2017.