Planning solar pathway/cycle-way lighting with the use of sensors? – you need to know this

Orca Solar Lighting blog on the use of sensor driven solar lighting

To put this in context, sensor driven solar lights are becoming popular, as solar lighting needs to be energy resourceful,  as they are relying on energy capture from a solar panel and energy storage from a battery.  Therefore the intention is that one can run the solar light brighter when it is needed, and at a lower level (or turn off when it is not needed) to minimise the solar panel and battery requirement.

Obviously  lighting is to encourage night time use of pathway and cycle-ways, to encourage people do get outdoors and use these facilities, it is so important that the illumination is adequate for safety reasons, and just as  importantly that the users feel safe. The second reason is to protect the owner of the assets (pathway and lights) from potential litigation if an incident occurs.

Therefore most lit public pathways and cycleways in Australia are designed to comply with Australian lighting standards (AS/NZS 1158 3.1 2020 Pedestrian lighting).

To comply with this standard, there are two important factors to consider if the use of sensor driven lighting is being considered.

  1. light levels must be based on the LOWEST lighting level emitted throughout the night – not the sensor driven higher level of light. Therefore to comply with the lighting standard subcategory nominated (EG PP5, PP4, PP3 etc) the lighting levels must reach the subcategory when it is at its lowest lighting level.
  2. Most sensor driven solar lights have as sensor range (maximum distance from how far the sensor is located w here it will detect a pedestrian) of eight meters, however the necessary distances between light poles to meet these lighting standards is often somewhat more than double this distance. What this creates is a situation where a pedestrian or cyclist moving down the pathway may only have activated one of the sensors, therefore only the light behind the user is at full illumination, the light in front of the user is in power saver mode.

Please note this applies for stand-alone sensors on each light pole, some meshed systems can illuminate all the lights on the path with a sensor at the beginning of both ends of the pathway.

Often the best solution is to run the lights at constant illumination all night.

The Australian and New Zealand pathway lighting standards were updated in early 2020. Some of the most noteworthy changes is the requirement to light 5m either side of the path to 50% of the light levels of the path itself. This gives the path user visibility well beyond the edges of the pathway to deter crime and provide the user with a feeling of safety. (There are exceptions to this,  if the path is bordering a fence, wall or similar boundary structure, of if there is special dispensation required when the area is ecologically sensitive to light.  The lower lighting subcategory PP5 requires a small amount of illumination on the vertical (at 1.5m height), with the exception if the light source is lower than 1.5m (eg: lighting bollards).

Check out Orca Solar Lighting path and cycle-way lighting solutions

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