Why Solar Street Lights Are Important For Safety & Ambience

Why Solar Street Lights Are Important For Safety & Ambience

It’s not controversial to say that things are scarier in the evening. Being surrounded by shadows can make us feel unsafe. There’s a sense of uncertainty that comes with not being able to see every inch of your surroundings. Introducing street lighting – especially solar street lighting – can increase people’s comfort, ability to pathfind, and recognition of places and objects. 

The Problems: Why We Need Solar Street Lights

Monash University’s XYX Lab researched this issue in partnership with Plan International and ARUP lighting. The results determined that harsh, bright lighting often has the opposite effect to urban designers’ intentions. In many instances of this style of street lighting, women report feeling less safe. ttps://theconversation.com/more-lighting-alone-does-not-create-safer-cities-look-at-what-research-with-young-women-tells-us-113359

While high vertical and horizontal illuminance is a compliance standard for urban design, it does not align with what works. The research investigated women’s perceptions of safety regarding lighting, with their study focused on 80 unsafe hotspots. The responses were surprising: women perceived those hotspots with higher light levels as less safe. 

Quantity of light was not the only issue identified by the women in this study. Light colour influenced their perceptions of safety as well. Bright, cool lights were negatively correlated with safety. These glare and contrast from these types of light produce a floodlit effect, creating pockets of brightness. More and starker areas of darkness appear outside of these pockets, making identification of details near impossible. Unfortunately, these bright, cool types of light are the ones most commonly used by urban planners. Thankfully the study provided some alternatives that could lead to a seismic shift in the public lighting design industry.

How Solar Street Lights Can Help 

The study didn’t just produce bad news for the street lighting status quo. It also developed some clear pathways for improving safety and ambience in public spaces. If urban planners can develop lighting systems using a considered design approach, this will produce net-positive safety outcomes for all members of the public, and especially women. 

This considered design approach is likely to have several key features. It should focus on deploying multiple light sources, instead of single, bright overheads. This can create a consistent and layered effect, rather than the stark harshness that is common at present. Using this method in concert with lights that are at the warmer end of the colour spectrum is also a key way to increase perceptions of safety. 

Many councils have been resistant to this manner of street lighting, because the current method has been viewed as easier and more cost-effective. Luckily for their communities, times have changed. The advent of solar street lighting makes acquiring all of these benefits simpler than ever.

Solar Street Lighting: The Solution

Solar powered street lights have developed to the point that they can provide the aforementioned benefits to public safety and ambience with ease and affordability. 

Good lighting design is compliant with Australian Standards but also understands the nuances of the environment and users in providing fit for purpose lighting. It can help people feel safe and welcome in public areas at night and is mindful of different perceptions, particularly women and older people who have higher thresholds for feeling safe. Good lighting is not always equivalent to more, brighter lighting. Nuances are important. Different places have different lighting needs. There are a complex range of potential issues that need to be balanced, such as the impacts on wildlife, human circadian rhythms and lighting which spills into neighbouring properties. 

3000K has been found to create the most inviting spaces for pedestrians and most sympathetic to wildlife. Organisations such as The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA), Webb Australia and Australasian Dark Sky Alliance (ADSA) all advocate for 3000K lights for public spaces intended for relaxation, leisure or low level activity.

Leadsun solar street lights use 3000K LED light sources as standard. These are not just warm, but entirely adjustable. Optimum brightness levels can be determined and programmed in such a way that they are deployed automatically when the sun goes down. 

Adaptive intelligent lighting control with ‘Smart-Eye’ PIR motion sensors, allows the lights to be programmed to respond when movement is detected. For example, in the late evening when it’s quiet, lights could operate at 30% brightness, and then automatically increase to full brightness for 30s when pedestrians approach.

This creates a safer and more inviting environment, improves visibility and passive security within the area of the lights. It also increases the battery autonomy in the winter months when the nights are longer, and the days are shorter. It is fully programmable either through EDGE or set on the lights.

This functionality is all controlled via our EDGE program. This application provides councils with the ability to adjust, monitor, and maintain their solar street lights from anywhere in the world with secure login credentials.

Leadsun Solar Street Lights

Leadsun are revolutionising the public lighting industry one council at a time. With over 130 happier, safer, and more active communities in our customer base, we are proud to be leading the charge towards a more environmentally friendly and illuminated Australia. Contact us today to discuss your next solar street lighting project.