Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Coventry plans street light dimmer switch technology

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Lights will be dimmed at times of 'low use' under new proposals by Coventry City Council

Dimmer switch technology will be fitted to thousands of replacement street lights in Coventry to help save energy and money.

Coventry City Council is proposing to replace 28,000 of its 32,000 street lights over the next five years.

It wants to be able to reduce the brightness of lights at times of low road usage.

The ability to vary bulb brightness on demand will save up to £684,000 per year in energy bills, the council said.

The scheme is part of a £64m private finance initiative. Councillors are due to consider tender offers on Tuesday.

Installation of the new lights is scheduled to start in the summer, making Coventry one of the first places in the UK to adopt the new lighting technology on such a wide scale.

ANALYSIS:
Dr David Gregory, Science and Environment Correspondent

It is from the air that you really get a sense of the problems faced by council lighting engineers.

Sure, there are nice white pools of light on the road here and there. But mostly it is vast tracts of orangey glare, plenty of which is wasted as it soars straight up to you in the plane.

This is a waste of course and now thanks to much improved lighting technology councils can tackle the problem.

Led lights are more focussed and use much less power. Coventry plans to further control the power used by varying the light levels.

So on match days or a Friday night you can bring the lights right up.

But the council stress Coventry will not become some sort of outside disco.

Instead, the variable levels of light will be applied across the year, gently dimming in lighter summer mornings for example.

Worcestershire County Council adopted a similar energy saving scheme in late 2009.

New lights have so far been installed in two roads. The rest are to be installed over the next 13 years.

The council said the lights had an automatic sensor, which dimmed their brightness after midnight when traffic is down 90% on the busiest time of day.

It estimated the system would help it save up to £80,000 per year.

Coventry City Council leader Ken Taylor said: "Like lots of people, I have dimmer switches in my home. Soon we will have one that covers all street lights in the city too.

"This will mean we can turn areas of lighting down, or up, as required.

"So, for events in the city centre we can turn them up but at 0330 on a Tuesday morning for example we can also turn them down - saving power and money."

Colin Knight, Coventry's head of highway services, added: "The lights will be pre-programmed in predictable areas, such as roads where there are nightclubs, which will be brighter, but they will have the ability to be overridden if needed."

The street lamps are not movement-sensitive but would be linked to a centrally-controlled computer that can override the settings on demand to reflect different lighting needs.

The system would also automatically indicate when bulbs need replacing.



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SEE ALSO
City's lights are to be replaced
15 Feb 10 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
64m to improve street lighting
05 Jan 08 |  Coventry/Warwickshire

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