These streetlights automatically dim when no one is around and illuminate as soon as someone passes by


Believe it or not, streetlights use a lot of energy. It’s a shame too, because late at night when no one is walking the streets or no one needs them they still burn through resources. They’re actually a huge source of C02 emissions, about 40 million tons are released every year. That’s the equivalent of 20 million cars emitting the same toxins. It’s safe to say, the system needs to be optimized better.

Europe apparently spends $13 billion dollars powering streetlamps, which comes out to 40 percent of their total energy costs for the year. That’s ridiculous when you think about it. Sure, we need lights to see where we are going, but I’m willing to bet at least some of those lights are on at unnecessary times.

Thanks to a system called Tvilight, we may yet see streetlights that only illuminate as needed. Thanks to an integrated plug-and-play wireless sensor, the lights are able to brighten as individuals pass by. The system can detect people walking, biking or even driving by in vehicles. When no one is around, the lights remain dim in order to conserve energy and C02 production.

If this new system is widely adopted, it will decrease C02 emissions by 80 percent. That’s just one of the benefits of Tvilight though, as there are several.

Each streetlamp is also outfitted with a simple diagnostic system, allowing it to alert a service center that something isn’t working properly. This allows maintenance teams to pinpoint exactly which streetlights are not working, saving valuable time spent seeking them out.

Realistically, these Tvilight lamps could be used for a number of different applications. For example, they could flash red when an ambulance passes by, or even flash blue and red when there’s an emergency. Of course, the technology would need to evolve a little more before some of the more advanced applications took shape, but it’s still very promising.

It’s amazing how much you can conserve by cutting back on small things like streetlamps. It just goes to show how overzealous the human race is when it comes to things like this. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that streetlamps don’t have to be on all the time at night. It did, however, take this long to develop a system that would conserve energy when passerby are not around.

Of course, there’s little to no mention about when we can expect Tvilight to start cropping up in cities around the world. Let’s hope that changes real soon.

What do you think of the lights? Check out the video below to see them in action.

[via Gizmag, Dvice, Tvilight]

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  • Mike

    [@Ashraf] Ditto–office buildings started doing it over 25 years ago.

  • Ashraf

    Im surprised it took this long for someone to come up with this…

  • JonE

    Great article Briley; thanks!

  • Briley Kenney

    [@vandamme] Light pollution is terrible.

    [@etim] Why of course. They will also demand master encryption keys which allow them to turn said lights against citizens (jesting- sort of).

    [@Darcy] You can’t really compare the savings gained from a residential home when turning off or dimming lights to that of billions of street lights which remain on all throughout the night. Sure, the savings may be incremental, but in such large numbers it can add up.

    Also, there’s the C02 emissions factor. Less is always better in that case.

  • I was driving in Belgium last week, and yep, the expressways still have street lights way out in the country. Why? I dunno. They should convert to LEDs which are easier to dim, as well as being more economical. Or just shut them off.

    Real darkness is a beautiful thing. You can see all the stars, aurora, satellites.

  • etim

    But, of course, the NSA will monitor the motion detectors.

  • etim

    Why not just turn them off instead of dimming? And paint the poles with glow in the dark paint so you’ll know where to walk/bike.

  • Louis

    Now if they can just do something about those office blocks keeping their lights on all night ! If that’s to do with security, then put in motion sensors to turn on the lights whenever there’s movement inside, otherwise, I really don’t see the point. Massive savings can be made this way id done on a national basis.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    I think this type of tech would be great for residential neighborhoods that don’t see a lot of traffic at night. I think the biggest hurdle would come from residents who would freak out because it was dark at night. I was raised in the country and we had no street lights, so darkness was natural at night… when you’re raised in the city and there are always lights on at night, the darkness would take some getting used to.

  • Mike

    [@Darcy] And yet, still a great idea–turn the lights off when you’re not using them!

  • I’m guessing the savings won’t be quite as good as they hope. Street lights take time to warm up before they reach their full illumination, so they will have to remain on to some level. How much actual savings do you get from dimming the light? In a home it’s 0 but here IDK. Plus you now have to power the motion sensors. Many streets will be busy enough that there are no savings. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

    I think it would be more effective overall to change from a Halogen floodlight system for streetlights to an LED system. Far more significant potential savings.