April 10, 2008 Streetlight systems are expensive for cities to operate and maintain. They also use a lot of energy — representing almost 40 percent of a typical city’s electricity spending. Echelon Corporation announced at the 2008 Light+Building event in Frankfurt that Philips Lighting, one of the world’s leading providers of lighting systems, has built its new Starsense street light telemanagement system using Echelon’s LonWorks platform, which uses Echelon’s power line transceivers to communicate between lighting fixtures and Echelon’s i.LON SmartServer to provide Internet access and local monitoring and control. It is believed Starsense can deliver energy savings of over 40 percent, reducing cities’ energy bills and carbon footprint.
Philips’s Starsense solution uses Echelon’s power line technology in each streetlight in its new OLC (Outdoor Luminaire Controller) to reduce installation and deployment costs, turning the existing power lines running to each light pole into a reliable communications network. Data from the streetlights is collected by the Starsense Segment Controller which manages the streetlights and communicates with a city’s monitoring center equipped with Starsense Supervisor Web portal software. The software aggregates millions of data from the streetlights and other devices and provides the end user with a comprehensive package of Web management applications, including energy consumption analysis, automatic failure identification, preventive maintenance and remote testing and monitoring of streetlights on city maps.
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The savings potential for such a system is significant. The ability to remotely adjust light levels based on time, traffic, weather, and other factors can dramatically reduce energy consumption saving cities money and helping them meet their Kyoto commitments for CO2 emission reductions. According to Echelon analysts have estimated, for example, that the New York City metropolitan area could save over 275,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, or the equivalent of removing 50,677 cars from the road, by switching to an energy-efficient streetlight system.
Philips is not the only company to develop products based on Echelon’s technology. LonWorks networks are being used as energy management systems in smart demand/response systems in individual homes and buildings to city-wide smart utility grids as well as street lighting systems to control individual devices based on real-time information - the key to energy efficiency strategies. So it seems that while information is power, it can help save power too.