Shopping for new street lights? Head for Denmark’s outdoor light lab

Wed, 2014-09-17 06:00 -- Doug Cooley

Lighting vendors offer dozens of smart street light options that promise to save cities money as well as collect useful types of data. But how do municipal officials figure out which option is right for them?

A trip to the new Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab (DOLL) might help. Located in an industrial park outside Copenhagen, the recently opened test center intends to help European municipal utility managers comparison shop the latest LED street lighting solutions on the market.

“Municipalities are our foremost group of clients,” says lab director Flemming Madsen in a Citiscope article. “They really operate a lot of lighting in the public space.”

Seeing the light

The lab was jointly established by the Technical University of Denmark, the municipality of Albertslund and Gate 21, a public-private partnership developing and promoting primarily energy-efficient LED solutions for cities.  

The test facility includes an outdoor “living lab” area with 10 kilometers of streets and paths and park space. There vendors can showcase their latest lighting designs and municipal officials can see how well they work in an urban environment before making an investment. The lab is open to large and small lighting solution companies. Watch a video about the lab >

“We gladly welcome Philips, Osram, Siemens, all the big cats,” says Madsen. “But we focus a lot on offering the small and medium-sized enterprises an opportunity to be equal to them and show their products under the same conditions.”

Testing street light network features

The lab is also a showroom for advanced street lighting solutions. Council Lead Partner Cisco has connected all lamp posts in the outdoor lab to a central network, creating a street lighting infrastructure. This enables lighting companies, from a control room in a nearby building, to show off their smart city solutions using network connected sensors embedded in lamp posts.  Vendors, says Madsen, can demonstrate how the sensors gather and transmit data on UV radiation from the sun, acoustic qualities and noise, humidity, temperature, traffic and air pollution.

The Danish test facility has two other labs that light-shopping city officials might find useful.

  • A “quality lab” provides vendor neutral measurements of LED lighting quality and performance so that municipal governments or other clients can verify the claims made by manufacturers.
  • A “virtual lab” enables lighting manufacturers and their customers to use 3-D animations that simulate how different lighting solutions would work in different environments.

City leaders looking for more information on evaluating LED street lighting solutions might also check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium site